Superbet Rapid & Blitz: Wildcard Le Quang Liem Goes Wild
Le Quang Liem scored 7/9 on Saturday. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Superbet Rapid & Blitz: Wildcard Le Quang Liem Goes Wild

| 23 | Chess Event Coverage

On the first day of blitz, Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem went through the field like a raging bull and scored an amazing 7/9. Anton Korobov didn't disappoint either and is still the leader at Superbet Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour with one day to go.

Robert Hess Commentary
The Superbet Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour games start each day at 14:00 CET, which is 8 a.m. Eastern and 5 a.m. Pacific. You can follow them here as part of our live portal. Commentary is provided by GM Robert Hess at

Saturday was the day of Le. His first rapid win against Vishy Anand on Friday apparently gave him wings, and today the former world blitz champion was in a class of his own. (The second-best performer today was Levon Aronian with 5.5/9.)

In the first round of the day, Le took down the leader right away and made the field even more tightly packed at the top. Korobov must have miscalculated in the endgame:

Korobov vs Le Quang Liem 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Bucharest Grand Chess Tour
Anton Korobov vs. Le Quang Liem, the two wildcards doing so well in Bucharest. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

After draws with Sergey Karjakin and Aronian, Le won no fewer than four games in a row—against Anand, Vladislav Artemiev, Wesley So and Anish Giri. The Dutchman was completely crushed and left the board in disbelief of what had just happened:

Anish Giri 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Bucharest Grand Chess Tour
Some tempo-losing moves were fatal for Giri in this game. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Le also had a bit of good luck on his side as he survived a lost position against Fabiano Caruana, but that was not just luck because the Vietnamese player also showed perfect defense in the subsequent rook ending for 64 moves:

Le Quang Liem 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Bucharest Grand Chess Tour
What an amazing first day of blitz for Le Quang Liem, who won the world blitz championship six years ago in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Yesterday Korobov said his main goal was not to lose 18 blitz games in a row, but that turned out to be too modest. After his first-round loss to Le, the Ukrainian scored four draws and a loss to Anand but then suddenly won two games in a row—against Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

In both games Korobov was lost, but in this tournament he has more lives than a cat. For starters, the game with Caruana, where Korobov was winning, then losing and then winning again:

It was even crazier in his game with Mamedyarov, who outplayed him in the opening, won an exchange, then allowed counter-chances, took over again and was +8 when he suddenly blundered terribly: 

Mamedyarov 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Bucharest Grand Chess Tour
Even Mamedyarov couldn't convert against Korobov. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

As if nobody wanted to end the day with a loss, all five games in the ninth round of blitz ended in draws. As a result, Le has moved up to third place, and Korobov is still leading, a full point ahead of Aronian, who will make it to the London playoffs if he continues this way.

His draw offer in the final round against Caruana was in "Soviet style," Aronian explained. He had noticed he had blundered significantly just before that:

Aronian 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Bucharest Grand Chess Tour
A tactical draw offer by Aronian after he noticed his blunder. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Korobov notably has been playing the somewhat old-fashioned Rubinstein variation (4.e3) against the Nimzo-Indian. In his interview at the end of the day, he revealed that the other day he had been reading Mark Taimanov's book, which was first published in Russia in 1956, on the opening!

Korobov autographs 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Bucharest Grand Chess Tour
Korobov giving autographs to local fans who show up every day. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

The final day will see nine more rounds of blitz, with the games still counting half compared to the rapid games.

Superbet Rapid & Blitz Standings before final day

All games from day 4

Previous report:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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