So faces Carlsen, Nakamura in Clutch Chess International

Roy Luarca
So faces Carlsen, Nakamura in Clutch Chess International
Fresh from clinching an online chess crown, Wesley So goes for another title against a tougher international field


MANILA, Philippines – After ruling the inaugural Clutch Chess Champions Showdown, Wesley So will be up against a bigger, stronger field in the follow-up Clutch Chess International slated June 6-14.

World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, world No. 5 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, No. 6 Alexander Grischuk of Russia and No. 7 Levon Aronian of Armenia have been invited to challenge So, the world No. 8.

Returning are So’s fellow United States team members Fabiano Caruana, world No. 2 and runner-up to the Filipino-born player, No. 14 Leinier Domingues and No. 18 Hikaru Nakamura.

The success of the Champions Showdown, held May 26-29, prompted the organizing St Louis Chess Club to hold a second edition of the online tournament using a new format conceptualized by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley.

“We’re thrilled with how the first Clutch Chess tournament went and are excited for the upcoming Clutch Chess International scheduled for June 6-14, 2020 and expanding to an international field with 8 players,” said Tony Rich, executive director of St Louis Chess Club, in a tournament report.

So, who traces his roots in Cavite, edged Caruana via tiebreak to become the first champion of the online event and bag the $30,000 top purse. So pocketed another $10,000 for his wins in the clutch games. (READ: Wesley So clinches Clutch Chess title, P1.5M)

Clutch Chess has a 10-minute playing time and 5 seconds increment. Its unique feature is the 5th and 6th games are valued at 2 points and the concluding 11th and 12th games valued at 3 points, giving trailing players the opportunity to overhaul a big deficit.

After losing to So in the Champions Showdown semifinals, Nakamura came from behind to stun Carlsen in the Round of 4 and advance to the finals of the ongoing Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge opposite Russian Daniil Dubov.

Nakamura bowed to Carlsen on Day 1 of the semifinals, 0-3, but topped Day 2, 2.5-1.5, to force the Day 3 decider, where they played to a 2-2 draw. Nakamura prevailed after a rare Carlsen blunder in the Armageddon tiebreaker.

Dubov and Nakamura will dispute the $45,000 top purse on June 1-3. –

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