Wesley So settles for 3rd in Sinquefield Cup, Alireza Firouzja takes title

Roy Luarca
Wesley So settles for 3rd in Sinquefield Cup, Alireza Firouzja takes title

FALLING SHORT. Wesley So is unable to protect his throne as overall champion of the Grand Chess Tour.

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Wesley So fails to bounce back from his eighth-round loss to Alireza Firouzja and finishes third in the Sinquefield Cup

MANILA, Philippines – French teen sensation Alireza Firouzja bested Ian Nepomniachtchi in their playoffs and won both the Sinquefield Cup and the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) on Sunday, September 11 (Monday, September 12, Manila time) in St. Louis, Missouri.

United States back-to-back champion Wesley So failed to bounce back from his eighth-round loss to Firouzja and settled for third place following a draw with Leinier Dominguez in the ninth and final round of the $350,000 (around P20 million) event.

The Bacoor, Cavite-born So was leading the tournament and was on track toward retaining the GCT overall title, until he blew a favorable position to Firouzja.

Employing the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, So tried but could not obtain a significant  advantage against Dominguez and agreed to a truce that rewarded him with $48,000 (around P2.7 million).

The other ninth-round matches pitting Shakhriyar Mamedyarov against Levon Aronian and Nepomniachtchi against Hans Niemann also ended in draws.

Firouzja, the 19-year-old runaway winner of the St. Louis Rapid & Blitz, and Nepomniachtchi, a world title challenger, split the $100,000 and $65,000 champion and runner-up purses after both finished what was supposed to be a nine-round event with 5 points each.

The withdrawal of world champion Magnus Carlsen after a loss to Niemann in the third round reduced the field to nine.

After a draw in their first game of rapid playoff, Firouzja pounced on an early blunder by Nepomniachtchi to win the second game and the tournament.

So wound up with 4.5 points like Caruana, who took a ninth-round bye, and also dropped to third in the GCT title race, which he topped in 2021 at the expense of Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. –

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