Champions Chess Tour (CCT) two-leg winner Wesley So started hot before settling down and sharing second place behind Anish Giri in the FTX Crypto Cup preliminary stage on Monday, May 24.
So, the reigning United States champion, beat Alexander Grischuk and Daniil Dubov, respectively, then posted quick draws with world champion Magnus Carlsen and speed demon Hikaru Nakamura before agreeing to a truce with teen sensation Alireza Firouzja for 3.5 points, half a point behind Giri, the Carlsen Invitational titlist.
Tied with So after five games of the CCT’s sixth event are Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
Firouzja tallied 3 points and landed in the company of Airthings Masters winner Teimour Radjabov and world No. 3 Ding Liren.
They towed world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, world championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Carlsen, who said he had an “awful” start, with 2.5 points each.
Carlsen, winner of the New in Chess Classic and the overall CCT leader, drew with Nepomniachtchi in the second round, fell to Vachier-Lagrave in the fourth, and failed to dispose of Argentine cellar-dweller Alan Pichot in the fifth.
Showing the form that netted him the Skilling Open and the Opera Euro Rapid titles, So will tackle Peter Svidler, Caruana, Radjabov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Nepomniachtchi, respectively, in the second set of five matches on Tuesday, May 25.
So, who trails Carlsen in the Tour’s points and earnings rankings, is trying to make the playoffs for the sixth straight time like Carlsen, who will battle Giri, Ding, Grischuk, Dubov, and Levon Aronian in succession.
Giri takes on Nakamura in the seventh round, followed by Firouzja, Svidler, and Caruana.
Making his first appearance in the Tour, Caruana lost to Mamedyarov in the fifth round and tumbled to the lower half of the standings. – Rappler.com