Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen renew rivalry in Altibox Norway Chess

Roy Luarca
Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen renew rivalry in Altibox Norway Chess

FACE OFF. Wesley So (right) looks to pull off another upset against world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Photo from FIDE

World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen admits that Wesley So is his ‘biggest opponent these days’

The brewing rivalry between world champion Magnus Carlsen and United States king Wesley So will hog the spotlight in the Altibox Norway Chess super tournament slated May 9-21.

So has beaten Carlsen twice in the finals in the ongoing Champions Chess Tour (CCT) and poses a threat to the Norwegian’s drive toward a third straight title in the 10-man field that also includes world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, winner of the 2018 edition, No. 3 Ding Liren, No. 5 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and No. 6 Levon Aronian, the 2017 champion.

In addition, So dealt Carlsen the most humbling defeat of his career, a 13.5-2.5 thrashing before his compatriots to become the world’s first Fischer Random champion in 2019.

No wonder, Carlsen, the highest-rated player in chess history with a peak Elo of 2882, acknowledges the Filipino-born So will be his main rival for the $79,000 (P2.8 million)  top purse in the over-the-board annual classical event.

“So is my biggest opponent these days,” Carlsen said after losing to the Bacoor City pride in the 2021 Opera Euro Rapid finals.

Carlsen also bowed to So in their title duel in last November’s Skilling Open, the inaugural leg of the CCT.

Other Altibox participants are Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, tied with So at 8th place in the world rankings, teen sensation Alireza Firouzja, and Aryan Tari, the 2017 world junior champion and Norway’s No. 2 player.

Firouzja placed 2nd to Carlsen in last year’s six-player, double-round edition held October.

The 10th and last bet has yet to be named with world No. 4 Ian Nepomniachtchi, No. 7 Alexander Grischuk, and Hikaru Nakamura as strong candidates.

The first 6 rounds of the tournament will be held at Clarion Hotel Energy before moving to the Scavanger Concert Hall for the last 3 rounds. –

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