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So, Giri trail Carlsen in Opera Euro Rapid chess

Wesley So scored 2 points in his last 3 games to stay close behind world champion Magnus Carlsen in the Opera Euro Rapid chess tournament early Monday, February 8.

With 6.5 points, So and Anish Giri were half a point off Carlsen, who kept the top spot with 7 points following a victory over Speed Chess champion Hikaru Nakamura in the 10th and last game of the second stage of the preliminaries.

So, the Philippines' former No. 1 and now the reigning United States champion, trounced Poland's No. 1 Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the eighth round then drew with Alexander Grischuk and Giri to boost his drive toward the quarterfinals.

A win over 2018 US champion Sam Shankland in the sixth round enabled So to catch up with Carlsen, but he fell back again after a loss to Cuban-American Leinier Dominguez in the seventh.

Cooling off after a four-win run on Sunday, February 7, Carlsen drew his games from the sixth to the ninth rounds before finding the decisive bishop move to beat Nakamura.

Russian No. 1 Ian Nepomniachtchi drew all his games and was at 4th spot with 6 points, towing Armenia's No. 1 Levon Aronian, France's No. 1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Airthings Masters winner Teimour Radjabov with 5.5 points each.

Radjabov also settled for draws and remained the only unscathed player among the 16 Super Grandmasters vying for the $30,000 (P1.44-million) top purse.

In the five-point borderline are Alexander Grischuk, Duda, and Nakamura.

The third and last stage of the 15-game preliminaries will be played early Tuesday, February 9, with the top 8 advancing to the knockout quarterfinals.

Carlsen is a cinch to qualify as he needs only a point in the last 5 games to make the upper half of the standings.

So, the Skilling Open champion, and Giri, who yielded the Tata Steel Masters crown to fellow Dutch Jorden van Foreest via Armageddon last week, need to score 1.5 to advance.

With only 3 points so far, Dominguez and world No. 3 Ding Liren must sweep their last 5 games to snatch a seat in the quarterfinals worth $5,000 each. – Rappler.com