Wesley So subdues Giri; Carlsen routs Nakamura

Roy Luarca

TOP TWO. Wesley So (right) stays within striking distance of Magnus Carlsen.


It's down to a two-way race between Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So in the 2021 Champions Chess Tour Finals

Wesley So rebounded from an opening-game loss to subdue Anish Giri in the playoff, 1.5-0.5, and keep his chances of catching up with Magnus Carlsen in the 2021 Champions Chess Tour Finals on Wednesday, September 29 (Thursday, September 30, Philippine time).

Trailing 0.5-1.5 after the first two games, So repulsed a kingside attack and pounced on a blunder by Giri to equalize, then agreed to a quick draw in the fourth game of the rapid section to extend their fifth-round match into blitz, where he won the decider after a draw.

Derailed by a fourth-round defeat to Vladislav Artemiev, Carlsen got back on track with a smashing 2.5-0.5 conquest of speed chess specialist Hikaru Nakamura.

Getting the full 3 points against Nakamura, Carlsen padded his lead over So, who notched 2 points against Giri, with four rounds to go in the $300,000 (P15 million) event featuring 10 super Grandmasters with an average Elo of 2782.

Carlson, the decade-long world champion, pooled 26.5 points, including 16.5 bonuses in the past nine events while So, the 2021 Grand Chess Tour overall champion, posted 21.5.

It’s now a two-way race between Carlsen and So as joint third-placers Teimour Radjabov and Levon Aronian are too distant to challenge for the title with 15 points each.

Radjabov bested Aronian, 3-1, in round 5 where other matches saw Maxime Vachier-Lagrave trounced Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 2.5-0.5, and Artemiev beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 2.5-1.5.

Having survived Giri, who holds a three-game edge over him in their head-to-head duel, So gained momentum heading to a sixth-round clash with Radjabov on Saturday, October 1.

Other matches pit Carlsen against Giri, Aronian against Duda, Nakamura against Mamedyarov, and Artemiev against Vachier-Lagrave.

The single-round robin event takes a break Friday. –