Wesley So tackles Caruana in Speed Chess quarterfinals

Roy Luarca
Wesley So tackles Caruana in Speed Chess quarterfinals

QUARTERS. Wesley So meets Fabiano Caruana in the quarterfinals.

Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club

Wesley So aims to end Fabiano Caruana's run in the 2021 Speed Chess Championship

MANILA, Philippines – Team USA stars Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana will clash in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Speed Chess Championship Main Event.

Caruana, the board 1 player of the United States, nipped French ace Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 13.5-12.5, in the round of 16 on Monday, November 29 (Tuesday, November 30, Philippine time) to advance against So, the back-to-back US champion.

So rallied to beat another Team USA member, Jeffery Xiong, in another round of 16 tussle (18-14) on November 15 and waited for the winner of the Caruana-Vachier-Lagrave encounter.

Though Caruana, ranked No. 3 in the world in standard chess, surged ahead at 7.5-4.5, Vachier-Lagrave stormed back by taking the next five games for a 9.5-7.5 lead.

Vachier-Lagrave was still in front, 12.5-11.5, but Caruana again displayed his resilience to take the last two games and oust the 2020 runner-up.

It was a surprising victory for Caruana as he was not known for strong play in the bullet (1-minute) segment.

Against the Filipino-born So, however, Caruana will be facing an even more formidable rival on December 9.

So has placed runner-up twice, both to another Team USA member, Hikaru Nakamura, in the 2018 and 2019 editions.

Other quarterfinal pairings put Richard Rapport against Nihal Sarin on December 2, Ding Liren against Levon Aronian, and defending champion Hikaru Nakamura against Anish Giri on December 6. –