Liem did not start well on the first day of competition (April 24), earning just two points after five games – one win against Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (Norway), two draws with Hikaru Nakamura (US) and Alireza Firouzja (Iran), and two losses against Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) – settling for 13 th position amongst the 16 participants.
However, the Vietnamese star delivered an exceptional performance on the second day (April 26) with three wins over Indian prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (India), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) and Gawain Jones (England), and two draws against Wesley So (US) and Sergey Karjakin (Russian).
This brilliant display brought Liem into the top four with six points ahead of the last qualifying day (April 27).
The Vietnamese grandmaster entered the Tuesday competition knowing he would need 2.5 more points to be guaranteed a quarterfinal berth. And he did it with a game to spare.
Liem tied with Leinier Dominguez (US) in Round 11 before punishing Indian Vidit Santosh Rujrathi’s mistakes to win his Round 12 match. In the next two rounds, he scored two successive draws against Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Aryan Tari (Norway), which was enough to put him through despite a final-round defeat to Levon Aronian (Armenia).
Liem was equal with Alireza Firouzja and Teimour Radjabov on 8.5 points but stood one place above Radjabov thanks to better auxiliaries.
In the quarterfinals, to be played on April 27-28, Liem will take on Hikaru Nakamura, who finished second in the qualification phase.
Chess king Magnus Carlsen topped the table with 10.5 points and will meet Teimour Radjabov in the knockout stage. The two other quarterfinal clashes are Alireza Firouzja vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Wesley So vs Levon Aronian.
New in Chess Classic offers a total prize fund of US$100,000, with the overall champion to be awarded US$30,000. The 16 participating players will compete against one another in a single round robin tournament to decide the top eight for the knockout round.