So triumphs again

 

Filipino-American Grandmaster Wesley So continued to impress by keeping Indian Grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna under pressure in the 5th round to grab the solo lead on Thursday in the Tata Steel Chess Masters tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The 23-year-old So started 2017 in the same form he ended 2016, defeating Harikrishna to notch his 3rd straight win against a draw in 5 rounds.

Playing in his usual aggressive style and white, So finished in 48 moves of a King’s Fianchetto to bring his total to 4.0 points and pad his live Elo rating to 2819.4, which is the seventh highest ever in history.

This 3rd straight win also crowned Mr Philippine-born So as No.3 in the world, being ahead of Norweigian world champion Magnus Carlsen, who was held to a draw by Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, and former leader Pavel Eljanov, who was snapped by Armenian GM Levon Aronian. Carlsen, a five-time winner of the event, and Eljanov have 3.5 points each.

Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre said he was closely following the game between So and Harikrishan, but slept when he saw that So was almost winning.

Torre who is a 3 bronze medal holder of the last year’s Baku Chess Olympiad with 9 wins and two draws, said –

“With the way he’s been playing, I won’t be surprised if Wesley wins the tournament and hopefully emerge as a (world) title contender,” said

Analyst said So played a matured game and did not make a move to win back a pawn he lost in the sixth move.

He added that So handled his pieces “beautifully” throughout the course of his encounter with Harikrishna.

The sixth round will be held Friday with So tackling Indian Baskaran Adhiban.