Chess

So gains semis spot, Caruana sustains hot form in Rapid Chess Championship

Roy Luarca
So gains semis spot, Caruana sustains hot form in Rapid Chess Championship

HEATING UP. Wesley So is gradually regaining his intuition and perception in rapid play.

Grand Chess Tour

Filipino-born Wesley So continues his steady climb in the Rapid Chess Championship as he reaches the semifinals of the 25-week series for the first time

MANILA, Philippines – Fabiano Caruana is hot while Wesley So is starting to heat up in the 2022 Rapid Chess Championship.

Keeping his lethal form, Caruana won Week 3 of the online event to become the first back-to-back winner of the 25-week series offering a total purse of $650,000 (around P33 million).

Caruana, the highest-rated United States player, beat fellow American Jeffery Xiong in the finals on Sunday, February 27 (Monday, February 28, Manila time), to duplicate his triumph over another American, Hikaru Nakamura, in the Week 2 edition staged from February 19 to 20.

But Caruana better watch out as So, a three-time US national champion, is gradually regaining his intuition and perception in rapid play.

The Filipino-born So missed the quarterfinals in Week 1, made the quarterfinals in Week 2, and barged into the semifinals in Week 3, where he yielded to Caruana. The other pairing of the all-American semifinals saw Xiong stun Nakamura.

After scoring 5.5 points in the preliminary stage of Week 1, held from February 12 to 13, So tallied 6 points in Week 2, and notched 6.5 in Week 3 to finish joint second with Xiong. Caruana was also the top qualifier with 7 points.

So, the overall champion of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour, started Week 3 by disposing off grandmasters Matthias Bluebaum, Sanan Sjugirov, and Grigoriy Oparin in succession. Nakamura derailed So in the fourth round, but the former Philippine champion rebounded with victories over Haik Martirosyan and Le Quang Liem.

So then sailed through the semifinals for the first time in the series with draws against Caruana, Alexey Sarana, and Maxim Matlakov in the last 3 rounds.

Week 4 of the event backed by Chess.com and presented by Coinbase will be held from Saturday to Sunday, March 5 to 6, with So expected to gun for his first title of the year. – Rappler.com