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. – Rappler.com