Wesley So disputes Pool D slot with Dominguez in playoffs

Roy Luarca
Wesley So disputes Pool D slot with Dominguez in playoffs

MUST WIN. Wesley So gets ready for a crucial duel.

Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Instead of advancing to the semifinal round outright, Wesley So needs to go through the playoffs to stay alive in the 2022 Berlin Grand Prix

MANILA, Philippines – Wesley So missed a winning position and settled for a draw with Pentala Harikrishna on Thursday, February 10 (Friday, February 11, Philippine time) allowing Leinier Dominguez to force a playoff for the top spot in Pool D of the 2022 Berlin Grand Prix at the World Chess Club Berlin in Germany.

Instead of advancing to the semifinal round outright, So will have to get past Dominguez – who bested Spain’s Alexei Shirov – in Friday’s playoffs, where play shifts to rapid, to clinch the pool’s lone semifinal seat.

In the post-game interview, So, who handled white, admitted he overlooked the Bh3 move on the 29th which would have given him the clear advantage and played a4 instead.

Pressed for time, So forced the draw via perpetual check after 36 moves of a Bogo-Indian Defense.

Both So and Dominguez, members of  Team USA, posted 4 points out of a perfect 6 in the double round-robin eliminations.

The Bacoor, Cavite-born So drew with the Havana, Cuba-born Dominguez in the first round and prevailed in the fourth round.

Hikaru Nakamura, another Team USA member, weathered Andrey Esipenko’s onslaught to forge a draw and top Pool A, joining early Pool C qualifier Levon Aronian, who is playing as an American for the first time, in the knockout semifinals on Saturday.

Playing in his first classical tournament in two years, Nakamura showed no rust and wound up with 4.0 points, half a point ahead of Esipenko.

The Pool B slot will be contested by Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Hungary’s Richard Rapport in another playoff.

Rapport trounced Russian Vladimir Fedoseev in the sixth round to catch up with Wojtaszek, who was held to a draw by Russian Grigoriy Oparin, at 3.5 points. –