Filipino Wesley So has won his first US Chess Championship title in a difficult 2-game rapid chess match against Alexander Onischuk.
The Super Chess Grandmaster of Chinese-Filipino descent was dressed in Barong Tagalog as he received his trophy and USD 50,000 cash prize.
The 23-year- old So was undefeated in the 11-round tournament but tied with Onischuk with 7.0 points in the standings.
The former Philippine National Team member played against the former Latvian chess GM in the playoffs in two 30-minute games.
So won the first game in white 31 moves and drew the second, giving him a 1.5-0.5 victory to earn the championship title.
"I really wanted to win this one this year . . . because it's the strongest national competition in the world. All the great (US) players have won this one," the Bacoor, Cavite-born chess GM said in a Star Tribune report.
The win affirms So’s standing as the No. 1 US chess player and No.2 in the world, proving that he has the best chances to beat the current No. 1 world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
So can play against the world champion if he wins the next Candidates Tournament scheduled towards the end of this year.
So was ranked No. 99 in the world when went to the US on a college chess scholarship in 2012.
Since then the Filipino GM turned professional player for the US, dominating elite international competitions since July 2016 and is now on a 67-game winning streak.
So next competes in Azerbaijan, Norway, Paris, Belgium, Spain, St. Louis, Georgia and London.