Wesley So, Caruana head Saint Louis in PRO Chess title duel vs Russia

Roy Luarca

FINALE. Wesley So targets another crown with a powerhouse US squad.


Wesley So and the United States’ Saint Louis Arch Bishops vie to defend their crown against a Russian squad led by world No. 4 Ian Nepomniachtchi

Powerhouses Saint Louis Arch Bishops of the United States and the Russia Wizards subdued their semifinal rivals and will clash for the PRO Chess League’s Arena Royale title on Friday, September 24 (Saturday, September 25, Philippine time).

Led by world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, Leinier Dominguez, and reigning US champion Wesley So, the Arch Bishops trounced the India Yogis in all four rounds for a lopsided 11-5 count.

The Wizards, powered by Ian Nepomniachtchi, allowed the California Unicorns to draw the first round, 2-2, before taking the next three rounds en route to a 10-6 score.

Atoning for his erratic play in the early stages, Caruana scored 3.5 out of 4 as Saint Louis prevailed in round 1 (3-1), round 2 (2.5-1.5), round 3 (2.5-1.5), and round 4 (3-1) over the young Yogis, the oldest of whom is 27-year-old Vidit Gujrathi and the youngest, Raunak Sadhwani, only 15.

The Filipino-born So, the 2021 Grand Chess Tour overall champion who scored the most points for Saint Louis in the quarterfinals, got stunned by Gujrathi in round 3 and contributed 2.5 points.

Dominguez accounted for 3 points while Xiong wound up with an even 2 points.

Joining world No. 4 Nepomniachtchi in the Russian side are fellow super GMs Evgeniy Tomashevsky, Andrey Esipenko, and Alexey Sarana.

At stake is the $20,000 champion’s purse and bragging right’s as the world’s top chess team.

The Arch Bishops are defending the title they won last year after the winner of the finals Armenia Eagles got disqualified for fair play violations. –