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 coach of Vietnam's national chess team, Mikhail Vasyliev, is originally from Odessa, Ukraine, which he describes as the "world capital of chess." The elderly Ukrainian, who does not speak Vietnamese, explained that the Vietnamese government's approach to chess works because efforts are directed at the most promising players from a young age, rather than at those children whose parents have the most money to pay for classes. Many of Vietnam's best players, such as Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, 20, who tied for third place in Moscow, are from poor families, Mr. Vasyliev says.
In Vietnam, children as young as 4 who do well in tournaments receive monthly salaries, free chess instruction, and monetary prizes for winning competitions. The Vietnamese government spends $3 million a year to promote the game, which includes covering players' travel expenses to domestic and international chess events.