MANILA, Philippines – What was supposed to be a classical title duel between Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura has been transformed into a rapid tiebreaker.
The foreign-born Americans opted for an even quicker draw in the second game of their FIDE Grand Prix third leg final on Sunday, April 3 (Monday, April 4, Manila time) arranging the two-game tiebreaker in Berlin, Germany.
The Philippine-born So and the Japan-born Nakamura, who handled white, only took 13 moves and less than half an hour to agree to a truce in their Berlin Defense encounter.
In the first game on Saturday, they needed 30 moves and an hour before settling for a draw.
Both So and Nakamura promised things would be a lot different in the deciding games of the three-leg series held to determine the last two qualifiers of the 2022 Candidates Masters in June in Madrid, Spain.
Nakamura, who has secured the slots with Hungarian Richard Rapport, will assume the slight favorite’s role as he is known as the speed chess demon.
In fact, he is currently the world’s top-ranked player in both rapid and blitz, displacing world champion Magnus Carlsen. Nakamura holds an Elo 2850.6 in rapid, while So is rated 2776.3. Nakamura is rated 2850 in blitz, while So is at 2814.
According to So, Nakamura is back to his 2800 level of play and is very determined to follow up his victory in the Grand Prix first leg also held in Berlin.
Rapport qualified by reaching the semifinals in the first leg and topping the second leg held in Belgrade, Serbia, where So and Nakamura did not play.
So is the reigning back-to-back US champion, while Nakamura is a five-time winner of North America’s premier tournament. – Rappler.com