So tangles with Carlsen, Nakamura back-to-back as Crypto Cup begins

Roy Luarca
So tangles with Carlsen, Nakamura back-to-back as Crypto Cup begins

TITLE HUNT. Wesley So eyes another crown in the Champions Chess Tour.


Wesley So braces for a tough grind as the Crypto Cup draws the world's top 10 chess players

Wesley So tackles world champion Magnus Carlsen and speed demon Hikaru Nakamura in succession when the FTX Crypto Cup gets going with the preliminary stage on Sunday, May 23 (Monday, May 24, Philippine time).

Ranked 1-2 overall after five legs of the $1.5 million (P72 million) Champions Chess Tour (CCT), Carlsen and So clash in the third round followed by the So-Nakamura encounter in the fourth.

Also pitted against So, the reigning United States champion, is Alexander Grischuk in the first round, Daniil Dubov in the second, and teen sensation Alireza Firouzja in the fifth.

Offering a cash prize of $220,000 and $100,000 in bitcoin, the Crypto Cup has drawn the world’s top 10 players, including Tour newcomer Fabiano Caruana, rated No. 2 behind Carlsen.

Completing the field are No. 3 Ding Liren, No. 4 and World Championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, No. 5 Levon Aronian, No. 6 Anish Giri, No. 7 Alexander Grischuk, No. 8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, No. 10 Teimour Radjabov, No. 12 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, No. 27 Peter Svidler, and Argentine Alan Pichot, the only player with an Elo below 2700.

Only the top eight after the three-day, round-robin preliminaries will advance to the knockout stage of the Tour’s sixth leg.

Thus far, Carlsen and So have qualified for the playoffs of each leg with the Filipino-born So eventually winning the Skilling Open and Opera Euro Rapid.

After four failed attempts, Carlsen finally ruled the New in Chess Classic at the expense of Nakamura to topple So as CCT leader in both points and earnings.

Apart from So, Carlsen will tangle with Mamedyarov, Nepomniachtchi, Vachier-Lagrave, and Pichot.

Carlsen, So, and Nakamura are tipped to advance along with Nepomniachtchi, Caruana, Airthings Masters winner Radjabov, and Carlsen Invitational titlist Giri. –