Wesley So absorbs 2nd loss in Candidates Tournament
MANILA, Philippines – Chess has become like boxing right now. Wesley So has been decked twice in the Candidates Tournament. Does he have enough resilience to recover and make a fight of out of it?
So lost to Fabiano Caruana, his fellow American in Round One Sunday, March 11. In Round Two Monday, March12, he fell to Alexander Grischuk of Russia. The post-game interview was proof of how commanding a position Grischuk had over So when the Russian said: "Ok, I have all pieces in attack, and Black defends with one bishop. If there is no mate, I just quit chess!" Grischuk later said he found nothing concrete and was contented with a winning position.
Leading with 1.5 points after two rounds were former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, Caruana and Shakriyar Mamedyarov. Levon Aronian, Grischuk and Ding Liren have one point and So is in the cellar, the lone winless grandmaster.
Pundits say So's twin setbacks must be the worst start by a contender in the Candidates Tournament, where the winner will challenge world chess champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway. In Tuesday's third round, So will have the White pieces for the first time in this event against Ding Liren of China, who eliminated him in the semifinal of the 2017 World Cup.
During the post-game interview, So said every tournament is different, referring to those he had won last year en route to his 71-game unbeaten streak. He said: "I have to get into form," without elaborating.
So handled the black pieces against Grischuk, his second Black in a row. The retired Judit Polgar, considered the strongest woman chessplayer ever, said in the live stream commentary after So lost tempo trying to simplify the position in a Ruy Lopez, and Grischuk played Rc5, the position was superior for the Russian.
"There are moves that show you a position is winnable. This is one of them with Rook on c5 and a Rook on g4, Black is under pressure," she said.
Grischuk always uses a lot of time to find the quickest way to win. As of move 30 in their 44-move battle, he had less than 10 minutes left but his position was so superior that the big time advantage of So did not matter.
Polgar, her attacking skill as sharp as ever despite retiring in 2015, spotted chances for So to complicate and even win if Grischuk made a mistake. Her deadly tactical eye startled her commentary partner more than once who said one time: "I am enjoying what one of the greatest attacking players is explaining." So quit, a piece up and facing a strong attack.
SUMMARY: Round 2 results: Grischuk 1-0 So, Mamedyarov 0.5-0.5 Aronian, Kramnik 0.5-0.5 Karjakin, Ding Liren 0.5-0.5 Caruana.
Round 3 pairings: Karjakin-Grischuk, Aronian-Kramnik, Caruana-Mamedyarov, Wesley So-Ding Liren.
Now Grischuk has made the time control Wesley So looks doomed to starting his first Candidates Tournament with 2 losses in a row: https://t.co/tqmo7t10aS #c24live #BerlinCandidates pic.twitter.com/8dYcxNJNLT
Now Grischuk has made the time control Wesley So looks doomed to starting his first Candidates Tournament with 2 losses in a row: https://t.co/tqmo7t10aS #c24live #BerlinCandidates pic.twitter.com/8dYcxNJNLT— chess24.com (@chess24com) March 11, 2018