Wesley So subdued teen sensation Jeffery Xiong in the ninth round on Wednesday, October 28 (Thursday, October 29, Manila time), and inched closer toward regaining the US Chess Championship crown.
Handling white, the Bacoor, Cavite-born So used the Sicilian Pelikan variation to tame Xiong and raise his lead with only two rounds left in the all-Grandmaster $150,000 event.
Stymied by back-to-back draws in round 6 on Tuesday and round 7 also held Wednesday, So trounced Elshan Moradiabadi in round 8, where Xiong gained ground with a victory over Ray Robson.
With 7 wins, So climbed to 8 points, a point ahead of Xiong and Robson, who revived his title bid by handing the struggling Hikaru Nakamura another defeat in the ninth round.
Aiming to duplicate his triumph in the 2017 edition, the top-ranked So will tackle Robson in the 10th round on Friday (Manila time) before tangling with defending champion Nakamura in the 11th and last round.
A win over Robson will assure So, the reigning world Fischer Random champion, of the title and the $40,000 (nearly P2 million) purse because of the winner-over-loser rule in case of a tiebreak.
Only So and fellow Team USA members Xiong and Robson are in title contention as No. 2 seed Leinier Dominguez and 2018 winner Sam Shankland are too distant to challenge at 4.5 points.
Nakamura, a 5-time winner of the event being held online for the first time, has only 4 points to show with Sam Sevian and 17-year-old Awonder Liang. – Rappler.com