Wesley So in striking distance of early Aimchess US Rapid leaders

Roy Luarca
Wesley So in striking distance of early Aimchess US Rapid leaders

STRONG START. Wesley So is back in the running for another chess crown.

Saint Louis Chess Club

Levon Aronian grabs the early lead over world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen as Wesley So remains close

Levon Aronian surged ahead while Wesley So rebounded from a first-round beating by Magnus Carlsen to stalk the leaders in the Aimchess US Rapid online on Saturday, August 28 (Sunday, August 29, Philippine time).

Posting three wins and two draws, Aronian tallied 4 points, towing world champion Carlsen and Vladislav Artemiev with 3.5 each in the first five preliminary matches in the event serving as the final leg of the 2021 Champions Chess Tour (CCT).

So, the newly crowned king of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour, posted 3 points with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Alireza Firouzja, and Leinier Dominguez.

Shrugging off the loss to Carlsen in an unorthodox opening, So trounced Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Santosh Gujrathi Vidit in succession before settling for draws with Le Quang Liem and Firouzja.

Aronian, the longtime Hungarian No. 1 now playing for Team USA like So, subdued Le, drew with Firouzja and Daniel Naroditsky, before prevailing over Eric Hansen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

After salvaging a draw against Vidit in the second round, Carlsen downed Le, got stifled by Firouzja in the fourth, and bested Naroditsky in the fifth to boost his bid for the CCT overall title.

After eight legs, Carlsen leads in both earnings and points in the CCT with So at second and Aronian a distant third.

The Filipino-born So, the winner of the Skilling Open, Opera Euro Rapid, and the Chessable Masters, is the only player among a total of 44 bets with the chance of overtaking Carlsen, winner of the New in Chess Classic and FTX Crypto Cup.

So tries to gain ground in the next five matches on Sunday when he clashes with Naroditsky, Hansen, Vachier-Lagrave, Dominguez, and Mamedyarov. –

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