Carlsen, Wesley So tighten hold of 1-2 spots in CCT finals

Roy Luarca
Carlsen, Wesley So tighten hold of 1-2 spots in CCT finals

LEADERS. Wesley So (right) hopes to pull off a tournament upset over top-ranked Magnus Carlsen.


‘Someone's got to catch Magnus,’ says Wesley So, who’s running second behind world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen in the 2021 Champions Chess Tour

World champion Magnus Carlsen and United States titlist Wesley So subdued their first-round rivals and boosted their hold of 1-2 spots in the 2021 Champions Chess Tour Finals on Saturday, September 25 (Sunday, September 26, Philippine time) on chess24Playzone.

Carlsen routed FIDE World Cup winner Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 2.5-0.5, while So tamed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 3-1, to gain the maximum 3 points which added to their built-in bonus points after nine tournaments of the $1.5 million Tour.

The top-ranked Carlsen raised his total to 19.5 points, keeping his lead from So (15.5 points) as they pulled farther away from Levon Aronian (9 points), who was stunned by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave via Armageddon and got only 1 point.

Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave wound up tied after the four-game rapid match and two-game blitz tiebreakers.

Anish Giri bested speed chess beast Hiraku Nakamura via tiebreak to post 2 points and overtake Teimour Radjabov at the fourth spot with 7.5 points.

Radjabov tallied 7 points following his blitz section loss to Vladislav Artemiev, who climbed to 5.5 points and displaced Nakamura (5 points) at sixth place in the elite 10-man field boasting an average Elo 2782.

The Bacoor, Cavite-born So, owner of three Tour titles (Skilling Open, Opera Euro Rapid, Chessable Masters) like Carlsen (FTX Crypto Cup, Aimchess US Rapid, New in Chess Classic) will tangle with Vachier-Lagrave, while Carlsen will battle Mamedyarov in round 2 of the single round-robin event staking $100,000 as a top purse.

Other matches pit Anish Giri against Duda, Nakamura against Radjabov, and Artemiev against Aronian.

Thus far, So, overall champion of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour, is the only player who can displace Carlsen in the race for the overall title of this year’s CCT.

“It’s a very long tournament so one match at a time,” said So, who is playing from Saint Louis, Missouri. “Someone’s got to catch Magnus! He is in a comfortable lead and the best player, but someone’s got to try. I just wanna play good chess.”

Carlsen, Duda, and Giri are playing in Oslo, where they competed in the recent Norway Chess 2021 also won by Carlsen. –