Dominguez shuts door on Wesley So in Berlin Grand Prix

Roy Luarca
Dominguez shuts door on Wesley So in Berlin Grand Prix

TOUGH EXIT. Wesley So misses his last chance to reach the semifinals.

Saint Louis Chess Club/Bryan Adams

After a rough start to his campaign, Wesley So heads home early, noting that it’s ‘not ideal, but that’s what chess is’

MANILA, Philippines – Leinier Dominguez booted Wesley So out of the Berlin Grand Prix semifinals on Friday, February 11 (Saturday, February 12, Philippine time) at the World Chess Club Berlin in Germany.

Finding the precise move with white in the waning seconds, Dominguez was poised for a mate when So resigned in the second game of their rapid playoffs for the lone Pool D slot to the semifinals of the first of three legs of the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix Series.

His clock down to 8 seconds, the Havana, Cuba-born Dominguez saw the deciding 32nd move Kh1 that spelled doom for the Cavite-born So. Any other move would have enabled So to turn the game around.

Dominguez thus completed his climb from a deep pit after losing to So in the fourth round of the eliminations.

The Americans, who wound up tied after the double round-robin eliminations, drew their first playoff game.

Dominguez joined early qualifier Levon Aronian, the runaway Pool C champion, Pool A winner Hikaru Nakamura, and Richard Rapport, who bested Radoslaw Wojtaszek in their own playoffs for the Pool C slot, in the semifinals starting on Saturday.

Rapport, Hungary’s top player, took the first game, then held Wojtaszek, Poland’s No. 2, to a draw to advance.

It will be Dominguez against longtime Armenian No. 1 Aronian, who’s playing for the United States for the first time, and Nakamura, also an American, against Rapport in the semifinals.

So later tweeted: “I have to go home, which is not ideal, but that’s what chess is: you train so hard & then everything really depends on that crucial few seconds of decision-making that determines what will happen in your tournament.”

Well, So could have qualified outright, but missed the winning move against Indian Pentala Harikrishna in the sixth round. –