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So advances vs Nakamura in semis; Carlsen tangles with Nepomniachtchi

When in trouble, Wesley So finds a safe way out.

Recovering from a 0.5-2.5 beating dealt him by Azerbaiajan's Teimour Radjabov in their first match, So took the second match, 2.5-1.5, drew the blitz tiebreakers, 1.5-1.5, then prevailed in the Armageddon to advance to the semifinals of the Skilling Open on Friday, November 27, Philippine time.

Though the Armageddon ended in a draw, So won because he handled black and has less time than Radjabov (5 minutes to 4 minutes).

So is pitted against fellow Team USA mainstay Hikaru Nakamura in the two-day semifinals of the online event kicking off the $1.5 million (P72 million) Champions Chess Tour.

Like the Filipino-born So, Nakamura also came from behind against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who prevailed in their first match, 3-1. A touted speed chess exponent, Nakamura won the second match, 2.5-05, settled for a draw in the tiebreaker, 1.5-1.5, before winning the Armageddon.

World champion Magnus Carlsen edged Anish Giri in their first match, 2.5-1.5, then forged a 2-2 draw in the second match to enter the semifinals first.

Living up to hype, Carlsen topped the 15-game preliminary phase, followed by Nakamura, So, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Radjavov, Vachier-Lagrave and Giri.

Nepomniachtchi bowed to Aronian in their first match, 1.5-2.5, but rebounded with a 3-1 victory in the second. Nepomniachtchi then swept the tiebreak, 2-0, to advance against Carlsen.

The two-round semifinals had Carlsen and Nakamura tagged as favorites.

All the semifinalists are assured of at least $7,500 (P360,000). – Rappler.com