After failing to defend the 2022 US Chess Championship, GM Wesley So fought back and won the inaugural Chess.com Global Championship held in Toronto, Canada early this morning, Manila time. So defeated Indian chess prodigy Nihal Sarin, 4.5 to 1.5, to win the lucrative $200,000 first prize. Sarin earned $100,000 as runner-up.
It was an impressive performance for the 29-year old Cavite-born So, now representing the United States. On the way to the finals, he defeated Denis Lazavik of Belarus, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, Jeffrey Xiong of the USA, Dmitry Andreikin of Russia and Hikaru Nakamura of the USA.
So didn’t lose a game after beating Xiong in the Round of 16, eliminating Andreikin in the quarterfinals, 4.5-1.5, then nosing out Nakamura, 5-3, in the semifinals. The matchup against the world #1 blitz chesser proved to be decisive only in the seventh and eighth games, with So winning both games. The first six games resulted in draws.
In the finals, the world no. 8 (classic format) showed his class by beating Sarin twice with the white pieces and drawing the other two to forge ahead, 3-1. Needing only 1.5 points in four rounds to win the championship, So wrapped things up by drawing Sarin in the fifth game with the white pieces, then completing the feat with a resounding 43-move win with black.
“This is definitely big,” So said after winning the title. In a newly-opened Twitter account, he expressed his gratitude to the organizers for “the best tournament ever. They outdid themselves and produced a smooth, professional and exciting tournament that was fun and fabulous in every respect! Thank you Lord for this win!”
With the win, So went up two notches to fourth overall in the rapid format FIDE rankings with an ELO rating of 2799.6, earning a massive 15.6 points in the tournament.
So will proceed to San Francisco for the last leg of the 2022 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals that will kick off on November 14. He will go up against world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Jan Duda of Poland, Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, Anish Giri of the Netherlands, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, Arjun Erigaisi and Rameshabu Praggnanandhaa of India.
(Photo from Chess.com)