SPORTS KEN: Wesley So retains US chess crown

Already named the US grandmaster of the year a while back, Fil-Am super GM Wesley So added another feather to his multi-decorated cap by triumphing anew in the 2021 US Chess competitions held in St. Louis, MIssouri.

Playing black, the Cavite-born defending champion outsmarted Fabiano Caruana in a difficult mid-end game, seizing the initiative after a miscue by his opponent – and scoring the win – in the three-man playoffs.

As his clock was running out, Caruana’s flag fell, losing by time forfeiture.

The victory gave the 2778-Elo rated So plenty of comfortable minutes waiting for the result of the Caruana vs Sam Sevian playoff match which netted the former Italian player the point, hoping that the latter beats So in their respective match.

So, undefeated in the 12-man round robin contest, proved he was the man to beat by convincingly registering an easy win over the young but promising Sevian, to run away with the championship trophy.

“Fabi (Caruana) should have won, but today is my lucky day,” WS said during the post-game interview with coverage commentators GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Christian Cirilla.

So has won the US tile three times – in 2017, 2020 (on-line) and this year to become the third man to win back-to-back titles. Gata Kamsky did it in 2013-14 and Lev Alburt in 1983-84.

So took home $50,000 for his efforts. He also received $100,000 plus for his overall victory in the Grand Chess Tour.

Additionally, Wesley also snatched three titles for his scintillating participation in the recently-concluded ten-leg 2021 Champions Chess Tour, which Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champ. ruled overall.

“It (retaining the tournament title) means a lot and I’m very happy. I saw Fabi pushing and pushing and I would have been disappointed if I had not won it,” he told the coverage commentators.

So said he was thankful to Sam (Sevian) for drawing his game against Caruana, thus extending the matches to the playoffs.

He said maneuvering his Knight on d6 after Caruana missed a rook move gave him comfort and confidence because his opponent could not penetrate Black’s defense.

“I felt the worst was over. I was holding on.”

Ever diligent in his career as a professional player, So said he has prepared opening repertoires for Black that enables him to draw and overturn tough matches.

“It’s huge. Winning the (US) championship for me was more important than the money,” said the 28-year old winner.

Missing winning chances are part of the game, added he who missed one such during his battle against former tormentor Danile Naroditsky.

Question: Do you think Wesley So has matured and developed into a rock solid player that we can expect him to challenge for the world championship in the next two years? (Email your feedback to fredlumba@yahoo.com.) GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!

 

 

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