Defending champion Wesley So found Jeffery Xiong tough to crack and settled for a draw in the 2021 US Chess Championship inaugurals on Wednesday, October 6 (Thursday, October 7, Philippine time) at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri.
Handling black, So split the point with Xiong, the board 1 player for Team USA which placed second behind Russia in the FIDE Online Olympiad in August, after 48 moves of a Nimzo-Indian Defense.
Ray Robson and John Burke took the early lead in the over-the-board classical event with victories over Daniel Naroditsky and Darius Swiercz, respectively.
While Robson, a sharp tactical player, is rated higher than Naroditsky by the US Chess Federation, Burke is the lowest-rated among the 12 Grandmasters competing for the $50,000 (P2.5 million) top purse with an Elo 2589.
Top seed Fabiano Caruana, the world No. 2, agreed to a truce with Lazaro Bruzon and so did third seed Leinier Dominguez with Aleksandr Lenderman and 2018 US champion Sam Shankland with Sam Sevian.
So, trying to recover from a floundering fourth-place finish in the recent Champions Chess Tour Finals, and Xiong both have a rook and three pawns each in the end.
In the second round, So will take on Swiercz, needing a win to bolster his bid to make it back-to-back in the $194,000 event he also won in 2017.
Other matches pit Dominguez against Caruana, Shankland against Bruzon, Burke against Lenderman, Naroditsky against Xiong, and Sevian against Robson. – Rappler.com