Wesley So, Caruana held to draws in US tournament

Roy Luarca
Wesley So, Caruana held to draws in US tournament

Wesley So Saint Louis Chess Club

The top seeds get off to a slow start as Wesley So also settles for a draw to kick off his title defense in the US Chess Championship

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. –