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Vietnamese chess has won international esteem following recent victories by its players at world-class tournaments.
Le Quang Liem, 19, became the first Southeast Asian to win the Aeroflot Open in Moscow earlier this year, widely regarded as the world's most difficult open chess event.
As a result, the world no. 55 qualified for the category-20 Sparkassen Chess-Meeting tournament in Dortmund, Germany, where he finished second behind Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.
Truong Son, ranked 157th in the world, tied for third place at the Aeroflot Open and finished first along with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the top section of the Biel International Chess Festival in Switzerland that included many of the world’s best young players.
Last December the Vietnamese women's chess team won the Asian championship while the men's team placed second. In 2008 seven-year-old Tran Minh Thang became the world under-8 champion.
The chairman of the Vietnam Chess Federation, Dang Tat Thang, said the government spends US$3 million a year to promote the game which includes players' travel expenses to domestic and international events.
This is less than a quarter of the investment made in football, the nation’s favorite sport.
But football and other popular sports like volleyball and tennis have never brought glory to Vietnam even at the Asian level.
Between 500 and 700 young players around the country train for chess, getting a monthly stipend of $300 plus room and board, according to the Ukrainian-born coach of the national team, Mikhail Vasyliev.
While investment in and rewards from a sport clearly make a difference, many hope that chess will become more popular in Vietnam since it is one sport where Vietnamese are doing well.