MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine flag may no longer be beside him, but Wesley So can still bring happiness to Filipino chess fans whenever he wins.
On Sunday, June 3, in the 6th round of the Norway Altibox Tournament, So finally defeated world champion Magnus Carlsen, pulling him into a half-a-point with 3 others off the world chess champion. There are 3 more rounds in the event.
The victory came in 44 moves of an Exchange Slav, which has a reputation as an opening where White can aim for a draw if he wants.
“Agila No.1!” exclaimed Cliburn Anthony Orbe, treasurer of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, (NCFP), in the group’s official Facebook page. Orbe’s post was shared 17 times by followers of the site.
It was So’s first win out of 4 losses and 8 draws against Carlsen in standard chess. So also defeated the Norwegian 3 years in a rapid tournament in St. Louis, Missouri.
“It was my first classical victory over Magnus for some reason took a really long time to come but I finally managed to get Magnus in his off-day,” said So after the game.
Carlsen told reporters after the game: “This was not fun. Well played by So. Credit goes to him, because he played a great game.”
Not only did So break Carlsen’s streak of 37-game winning streak but it was also the former Filipino’s first win since the US Championship.
So’s victory came after a fallow period.
Carlsen dethroned him as Tata Steel champion. In his first stint at the Candidates Tournament, So lost 3 times and won once. So was also unseated as US Champion. His world rating, which was second in the world last year, is now 9th as of June.
So said he was caught by surprise when Carlsen played the Slav Defense, which he never played against him. He then paused for 10 minutes on the 3rd move before exchanging the central pawns.
So said Carlsen chose a sideline by retreating his Knight to the d7 square instead of exchanging pieces. Then he shifted play to queenside where So placed his Knight on the c5 square and mobilized his queenside pawns.
So got the initiative but as he showed in the post-game analysis, Carlsen was still aiming for a win.
But after So managed to occupy the central squares, advanced the passed pawn and took advantage of Carlsen’s weak backrank, the road to a victory which made Philippine chess fans happy on early Monday morning was forged. Sleep was forgotten following a historic chess win. – Rappler.com
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