So trounces Abdusattorov, reaches Elite Speed Chess q’finals

Roy Luarca
So trounces Abdusattorov, reaches Elite Speed Chess q’finals
Wesley So, the newly crowned US champion, will face the winner between world No. 3 Fabiano Caruana and Jan Krzysztof Duda in the quarterfinals

When Wesley So regained potent form, Nodirbek Abdusattorov couldn’t level up.

Bucking a meltdown in the 5-minute section, So trounced the 16-year-old Uzbek in the 3-minute segment en route to an 18-10 rout in their round of 16 tussle in the 2020 Elite Speed Chess Championship on Sunday, November 8 (Monday, November 9, Manila time).

The 27-year-old So, the newly crowned US champion, advanced to the quarterfinals, where he’s going to face the winner between world No. 3 Fabiano Caruana and Jan Krzysztof Duda on November 15.

Living up to his higher rating, So won the first 3 games and raced to a 4.5-0.5 lead. Just when he readied for a breakaway, however, Abdusattorov struck back, winning 2 and drawing 2 to keep the match tight, 5.5-4.5.

Hoping to surprise So in the 3-minute section by playing fast and aggressive, it was the Uzbek who got ambushed instead.

After they traded victories, So took the next 5 before drawing the last two for a 7-2 spread and 12.5-6.5 lead overall.

Whatever hopes Abdusattorov had vanished quickly in the one-minute section when So swept the first 3 games and drew the 4th to seal the outcome, 16-7, with still 5 games left.

Abdusattorov, who at 11 became the youngest ever to enter the world’s top 100 juniors, snatched the 5th game only to be blown away by So, the world’s Fischer Random king, with back-to-back wins.

A pair of closing victories somewhat eased the pain of Abdusattorov’s early exit from the $100,000 (P4.8 million) knockout event.

Other early quarterfinalists were France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who beat India’s rising star Nihal Sarin, 16.5-11.5; world champion Magnus Carlsen, who trounced 2018 junior world titlist Parham Maghsoodloo, 24-5; and Vladimir Fedoseev, who stunned prime prospect Alireza Firouzja, 15-14.

The Cavite-born So couldn’t help but reflect on the fast turnover of talents in chess.

“I don’t mind getting old, everyone gets old, and also with it comes experience and maturity in a way, but you’re right, there are a lot of talented youngsters right now and I’m particularly impressed with Nodirbek’s games,” So told  “I’ve been studying his games for the last few days, and also looking at his recent best games, and he’s a very good player. He’s very principled, I’m sure he’s coached well. I’m not sure how exactly the chess culture is in Uzbekistan, but with proper support and training. I’m sure Nodirbek would go far.”

For now, however, he is not yet So’s equal. –

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