Wesley So trounces Nakamura, forces American Cup title duel

Roy Luarca

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Wesley So trounces Nakamura, forces American Cup title duel

TITLE SHOT. Wesley So shakes the hand of Hikaru Nakamura during their title match.


After climbing from the loser's bracket final, Wesley So gets a chance to pull off an upset over world No. 5 Hikaru Nakamura in the 2023 American Cup title match

MANILA, Philippines – Resurgent Wesley So exacted revenge on Hikaru Nakamura on Saturday, March 25 (Sunday, March 26, Philippine time) in the rapid tiebreaker to force a final title duel for the 2023 American Cup at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri.

Nakamura, currently the world No. 5 in classical play, beat So, the world No. 8, in their first match in the winner’s bracket final to relegate the Bacoor, Cavite-born So, to the loser’s bracket final, where So prevailed over Levon Aronian to arrange a repeat showdown against Nakamura.

By virtue of his earlier victory over So, a three-time United States champion, Nakamura, a five-time US titlist, earned a twice-to-beat advantage in the finals.

With their first match going So’s way, the finals winner on Monday will bag the $50,000 prize with the loser settling for the $35,000 runner-up purse.

En route to the winners’ finals, So tamed deposed American Cup champion Fabiano Caruana.

The 29-year-old So, the inaugural Global Chess champion last year, is bidding to make it back-to-back after ruling the Armageddon Championship Series 2023 at the expense of Sam Shankland early this month.

Like in their first match in the winner’s bracket, So and Nakamura drew their two standard games in the grudge rematch, necessitating the two rapid tiebreakers both won by So this time. In their first match, So and Nakamura also drew their rapid tiebreakers before Nakamura prevailed in the blitz tiebreakers.

Though he won no title in February, So climbed on top of the FIDE Circuit leaderboard, displacing Anish Giri, with fourth-place finishes in both the Tata Steel Masters and the WR Chess Masters. –

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