Defending champion Wesley So pulled off a win over John Burke and shared the lead with Sam Sevian and Aleksandr Lenderman in the 2021 US Chess Championship on Wednesday, October 13 (Thursday, October 14, Manila time) at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri.
Though he handled black, So was quality up and threatening mate when Burke, the reigning US junior titlist, resigned after 34 moves of a Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense, giving the Filipino-born super Grandmaster 4.5 points out of a perfect 7, the same as Sevian and Lenderman.
His morale propped up by a victory over top seed Fabiano Caruana in the 6th round, Sevian trounced Lazaro Bruzon also with black, and like So, remained unscathed so far.
Lenderman settled for a draw with Jeffery Xiong, the 2020 runner-up who is now hogging the cellar with Burke at 2.5 points.
Despite their disparity in rating, So (Elo 2778) said it’s difficult to extract a win as all the players this year, including Burke (Elo 2554), is tough to beat.
In fact, So only has two wins to show against five draws, and with only four rounds left won’t be able to match his nine-point winning output in 2020.
His live rating falling below 2800 after back-to-back losses, Caruana persevered to beat erstwhile co-leader Ray Robson in the 7th round and climbed to the middle pack with 3.5 points, trailing third seed Leinier Dominguez and Robson with 4.0 points each.
Dominguez split the point with Daniel Naroditsky and remain in contention for the $50,000 (P2.5 million) top purse.
The Filipino-born So will try to make it back-to-back when he plays white against 2018 US champion Sam Shankland, who drew with Darius Swiercz, in the 8th round on Thursday (Friday, October 15, Manila time).
Other matches pit Naroditsky against Burke, Sevian against Dominguez, Robson against Bruzon, Xiong against Caruana, and Swiercz against Lenderman. – Rappler.com