Wesley So foiled the challenge of Le Quang Liem in the second set of their final tussle on Monday, August 9, to rule the 2021 Chessable Masters and become the winningest player on the Champions Chess Tour (CCT).
Stunned by the Vietnamese ace in the first game, So equalized in the second, then settled for a draw in the finale to bag his third title after eight stages of the $1.5 million (P75 million) CCT.
The Bacoor, Cavite-born So prevailed in the first set, 2.5-1.5, on Sunday, replicating his 4.5-0.5 conquest of Le in last month’s San Fermin Masters in Pamplona, Spain.
So, also the winner of the Skilling Open and Opera Euro Rapid, bagged $30,000 and narrowed the gap between him and Magnus Carlsen in the overall points and earnings race of the 10-stage Tour.
Living up to hype as a pre-tournament favorite, So topped the preliminary phase with a Tour record 11.0 points, subdued Jorden van Foreest in the quarterfinals, and bested Vladislav Artemiev in the semifinals to book the title clash with Le, conqueror of top-ranked Levon Aronian in the semis.
Like So, Le is a product of chess powerhouse Webster University in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association and is now serving as its head coach.
According to So, also the runaway winner of the 2021 Paris Rapid & Blitz in the Grand Chess Tour in June, his triumph wasn’t as easy as it appeared to be.
“It was a very tough match today. In these events, the toughest opponent is Magnus. But in this tournament, Le was playing at that level so nothing came easy today,” said So, adding he was mentally prepared to go through the extra blitz games if Le did manage to win the second set.
After a draw in their first game, Artemiev beat Aronian back-to-back to place third. – Rappler.com