Teen prodigy Firouzja ousts Wesley So in US Rapid

Roy Luarca
Teen prodigy Firouzja ousts Wesley So in US Rapid

OUT. Wesley So fails to advance to the Final Four this time.

Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Wesley So rallies to force a quarterfinal playoffs but still falls short in the end to exit the ninth leg of the 2021 Champions Chess Tour

Wesley So crawled out of a deep pit only to tumble once more.

On the brink of annihilation by Alireza Firouzja, So won twice on demand and forced a two-game blitz playoffs in their Aimchess US Rapid quarterfinals tussle on Wednesday, September 1 (Thursday, September 2, Philippine time).

Far from top form, So failed to convert a one pawn edge for a draw in game 1 then blundered to yield game 2 and bow out of the ninth regular tournament of the 2021 Champions Chess Tour (CCT).

Firouzja, a French teen Grandmaster, advanced to the semifinals of the $1.5 million CCT for the first time and will be pitted against top qualifier Vladislav Artemiev, who subdued Leinier Dominguez, 3-1, in their second four-game mini-match.

World champion Magnus Carlsen exacted revenge on 2021 World Cup titlist Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 2-0, to forge a semifinal duel with Levon Aronian, also a 2-0 victor over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Booted out of the World Cup semifinals by Duda, Carlsen trounced the Polish star twice, both by 2.5-0.5, and further boosted his bid for the CCT overall title.

Aronian beat Mamedyarov in the first match, 3-1, on Wednesday and sealed the outcome with a 2-1 lead in the second match.

Held to a 2-2 draw by Dominguez on Wednesday and a 1-1 count after 2 games on Thursday, Artemiev prevailed back-to-back to barge into the CCT semifinals for the first time.

So, the pride of Bacoor, Cavite, got crushed in the first match, 0.5-2.5, and was pushed to the edge when the 18-year-old Firouzja took a 1.5-0.5 lead, needing only a draw in the last two games of match 2.

Showing resilience, So eked out victories in games 3 and 4 to force the playoffs where he fell short. –

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