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Asia's chess factory: Vietnam trains its youngest to be world-class players

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But Liem's success is not an isolated victory for Vietnam. In December, the Vietnamese women's chess team won Asia's championship, while the men's team placed second, and in 2008, 7-year-old Tran Minh Thang became the world chess champion for children under 8.

So what is Vietnam doing right when it comes to chess?

As it turns out, the country's socialist government adopted the chess system of the former Soviet Union, which produced five undefeated world champions between 1948 and 1972.

"Sports clubs are spread throughout the political structure of provinces and cities," says Casto Abundo, deputy president of the Asian Chess Federation. "Each club has its own budget at its disposal and they concentrate on the development of the youth. They are now harvesting the fruit of their labor."

The chairman of Vietnam's Chess Federation, Dang Tat Thang, says he learned to play chess in Russia when he was a student there.

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