Wesley So trails 3 new leaders; Magnus Carlsen at risk

Roy Luarca

QUARTERS BID. Wesley So needs to reach at least the quarterfinals to stay in the top two of the Champions Chess Tour.


World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen absorbs an upset loss as Wesley So settles for draws in the FTX Crypto Open

Wesley So drew all his five matches and trailed new leaders Teimour Radjabov, Fabiano Caruana, and Hikaru Nakamura in the FTX Crypto Open preliminary stage early Tuesday, May 25.

Getting used to online play after shunning it for eight months, Caruana, the world No. 2 behind Magnus Carlsen, won his last two assignments for the day and caught up with Nakamura and Airthings Masters champion Radjabov at 6.5 points out of a perfect 10.

Erstwhile pacesetter Anish Giri, the Carlsen Invitational champion, tumbled to joint fourth with So at 6 points following back-to-back losses to Peter Svidler and Caruana.

Carlsen got stunned by Levon Aronian in the 10th round, putting the world champion in the danger zone with 5.5 points, the same total as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Ding Liren, and Svidler, who matched Caruana’s 4 points in five matches to boost his bid for one of the eight playoff slots.

Outside looking in are Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with 5 points, world title challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Aronian with 4.5 each, and 4-pointers Firouzja Alireza and Daniil Dubov.

Carlsen, the winner of the New in Chess Classic, and So, champion in both the Skilling Open and Opera Euro Rapid, must qualify for the quarterfinals of the $320,000 event, including $100,000 in bitcoin, to keep their 1-2 positions in the overall points and earnings race of the Champions Chess Tour.

After opening up with victories over Alexander Grischuk and Dubov, Filipino-American So has now drawn eight straight, the last five against Svidler, Caruana, Radjabov, Mamedyarov, and Nepomniachtchi.

Blocking So’s path  in the last five  matches of the round-robin eliminations are Aronian, Vachier-Lagrave, Alan Pichot, Giri and Ding, the world No. 3.

Carlsen, who has made three finals appearances in the Tour thus far, is pitted against Nakamura, Firouzja, Svidler, Caruana, and Rdajabov in succession.

Nakamura, the world’s top-ranked blitz player, will also take on Aronian, Firouzja, Svidler, and Caruana. –