Wesley So aims to join Aronian in Berlin Grand Prix semifinals

Roy Luarca
Wesley So aims to join Aronian in Berlin Grand Prix semifinals

STILL FIGHTING. Wesley tries to recover from a rough start.

Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club

After settling for draws, Wesley So goes for a must win to advance outright to the next round

MANILA, Philippines – Back-to-back United States champion Wesley So will try to join Levon Aronian in the semifinal round when he tangles with Indian Pentala Harikrishna in the sixth round of the Berlin Grand Prix on Thursday, February 10 (Friday, February 11, Philippine time) at the World Chess Club in Berlin, Germany.

Aronian, playing for the US for the first time, trounced rising teen star Vincent Keymer in round 5 on Wednesday to move beyond reach in Pool C and cruise to the semifinals with one round to spare.

The longtime Armenian No. 1 has 4.0 points, followed by Indian Vidit Gujrathi and Russian Daniil Dubov with 2.5 each.

The Filipino-born So, on the other hand, settled for a draw with Alexei Shirov and needs to beat Harikrishna to advance outright in Pool D. They drew their second-round match.

Toting 3.5 points, So tows fellow Team USA member Leinier Dominguez (3.0 points), who wheeled back into contention with a victory over also-ran Harikrishna (2.0) in the fifth round.

So and Shirov agreed to split the point after 31 moves of the Ruy Lopez Berlin System.

Dominguez will tackle the Latvian-born Shirnov (1.5), now representing Spain, on Thursday.

Proving he can still excel in classical chess, Hikaru Nakamura subdued Alexander Grischuk to climb to 3.5 points in Pool A, half a point ahead of Russian Andrey Esipenko, who tamed Etienne Bacrot (1.5) of France.

The battle for the Pool B slot remains to be tight with Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland and Vladimir Fedoseev of Russia having the inside track after drawing their round 5 match.

Wojtaszek and Fedoseev have 3.0 points each, just half a point ahead of Hungarian Richard Rapport.

Only the top finishers in each pool will advance to the semifinals of the event serving as the first of three legs of the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix. –