Filipino-born Wesley So has been declared the winner of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Grand Prix Berlin, defeating tour champion Hikaru Nakamura in the final tiebreaks.
The Filipino American Grandmaster defeated his Japanese American opponent, 1½ – ½, to win the third leg of the Grand Prix tournament held over the board in Berlin, Germany, which wrapped up the late evening on April 4, 2022 (April 5 early morning in Manila).
The all-American finals went into tiebreaks after So lost the first finals game and then drew the second match, forcing two tie-breaker mini-matches to decide the winner of the last battle of the Grand Prix tourney.
Nakamura played white against So’s black pieces in the first final mini-match that saw the advantage swinging between the two players and eventually resulting in a draw.
So took the white pieces in the second final mini-match and established an edge early in the game and capitalized on a blunder by Nakamura to convert his advantage to win the game and the final match.
Despite his loss to Wesley So, Nakamura had earned the most points (23 pts) in the tournament and was declared the overall winner of the 3-event FIDE Grand Prix organized by World Chess which took the games twice to Berlin and the middle match in Belgrade. Nakamura along with Richard Rapport (20 pts) earned the top two qualification spots for the Candidates Tournament which will determine the challenger to World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.
Wesley So earned a total of 17 points in the Grand Prix, placing him 3rd in the overall rankings but out of the qualification spots. In the post-game interview, the three-time and reigning United States Chess Champion said he looked forward to qualifying and returning to the Candidates Tournament in the next years after experiencing it for the first time in 2018.
“I am only 28, and I’m hoping that next year or in a couple of years, I will get a chance to play in the Candidates. The last time I played, I was very inexperienced and finished second to last, so I think if you qualify, you have to be ready to fight for first place,” So shared in the interview.
In his characteristic humble demeanor, Wesley So started off his interview with Grandmaster Dina Belenkaya by praising Nakamura for playing well, nearly winning both Berlin events, and qualifying for the Candidates Tournament.
When asked what he credits his win to – energy level, character, or luck – So dismissed luck as playing any part in any chess game and said he just tried to play good chess throughout the 13 days of the tournament.
The Fil-Am chess champion revealed he would root for any of the American players to win the Candidates Tournament to face off Carlsen, the Norwegian current world number one chess player whom he defeated in the inaugural World Fischer Random Chess and two events during the year-long Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
So was visibly happy with his win and thanked the organizers and the German people for hosting the event. He shared he will celebrate with his mother, Lotis Key, and his Berlin-based friend. “The only thing that matters when you win is that you have someone to share it with”.
The FIDE Grand Prix 2022 is a series of three chess tournaments where 26 of the world’s top players took part to qualify for the upcoming Candidates Tournament.
SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Wesley So, the Filipino American winner of the FIDE Grand Prix Berlin 2022! WATCH his post-game interview here.
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