Russia beats Wesley So, US for PRO Chess League crown

Roy Luarca
Russia beats Wesley So, US for PRO Chess League crown

Wesley So and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Photo from FIDE

Wesley So and the US’ Saint Louis Arch Bishops yield to world No. 4 Ian Nepomniachtchi’s Russian squad in the finals

The Russia Wizards leaned on the heads-up plays of Alexey Sarana and Ian Nepomniachtchi to topple the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, 9-6, and capture the PRO Chess League Royale Arena crown on Friday, September 24 (Saturday, September 25, Philippine time).

Nepomniachtchi, the world No. 4 who’ll be challenging Magnus Carlsen for the world title this year, and Sarana, who performed way better than his Elo 2635, both scored 3.5 points out of a perfect 4 to power the Wizards past the defending champions led by world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So in the four-round finals.

Sarana was the most impressive performer with consecutive victories over Caruana, So, and Lenier Dominguez, complementing the effort of Nepomniachtchi, as Russia took the first round, 3-1, and the second, 2.5-1.5, before settling for a 2-2 draw in the third round.

With the outcome virtually settled heading to the fourth round, the Russians drew 3 boards with only So notching a win over Evgeny Tomashevsky to give the Americans an immaterial 2.5-1.5 victory.

The Wizards, who also included Maxim Chicagev, pocketed the champion’s purse of $20,000 apart from individual prizes.

The India Yogis clinched third place with a 9-7 triumph over the California Unicorns.

Russia thus asserted its supremacy over Team USA which it also beat, 3.5-2.5, for the 2021 Online Chess Olympiad. 

Jeffery Xiong, who manned the top board for the Americans then, was also part of the top-seeded Saint Louis squad. –