Monday, January 26, 2015


GM Weseley So, left, plays GM Loek Van Wely in the last round of Tata Steel Chess Tournament.

Chess Grandmaster Wesley So outplayed Duth GM Loek Van Wely late last night to finish tied for second place with GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, GM Anish Giri of Netherlands, and GM Ding Liren of China in the 2015 Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee in The Netherlands.
     So, Vachier-Lagrave, and Liren all tallied 8.5 points after winning their last round games. Vachier-Lagrave beat Fabiano Caruana of Italy while Liren won over Levon Aronian, the tournament’s defending champion. Giri, who was the erstwhile solo second placer, drew with GM Woztasjek, earlier in the last round.

     Current world chess champion GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway topped the category 20 tournament (average ELO rating of 2746) by scoring 9 points out of possible 13. Carlsen had a slow start in the tournament with two draws and a loss after three rounds but then won six straight games beginning round four.

     With white, So pounced on the hapless Dutch GM Van Wely, who was in time trouble by as early as the 17th move, and was poised to win the latter’s queen when he resigned.

     With a strong showing in the invitation-only tournament, So, who is currently ranked 10th in the world with an ELO rating of 2762, is expected to move up to 7th with a rating of 2788. This is the highest rating a Filipino chesser has ever achieved.

     So won over GMs Ivanchuk, Aronian, Saric, Jovaba, and Van Wely and drew with GMs Carlsen, Vachiar-Lagrave, Liren, Caruana, Radjabov, Wojtaszek, and women’s world champion Hifan. His only loss was in the hands of GM Anish Giri in the penultimate round.

     After So, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri and Liren scored their points, the attention shifted to the game between GM Carlsen and GM Saric.

Carlsen, who only needed a draw to win, seemed to be in trouble during the middle game. The possibility of a Carlsen loss would create a logjam on the leaderboard with five players (Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, So, and Liren) having an identical 8.5 points apiece.

     Carlsen, however, found ways to simplify the position by exchanging major pieces. When truce was finally declared after 49 moves, the players were looking at a drawn rook and pawn ending.

     So, a Cavite City native quit his studies at Webster University to turn professional this year.

He had a bumper year in 2014. He won, among many others, the Millionaire’s Chess in Las Vegas and the $100,000 pot money that goes with it. He also won the 49th Capabalanca Memorial in Cuba and some other pocket tournaments in the US and Canada.

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