From Steady to Stellar: Wesley So’s Unyielding Strategy Catapults Him to 3rd Spot in Norway Chess

Wesley So's Unyielding Strategy Norway Chess
Wesley So’s strategic ascent in the Norway Chess 2023 catapults him to the 3rd spot on the leaderboard. Norway Chess photo.

Steady as he goes, Filipino American Grandmaster Wesley So ascends to new heights in the world of chess. Known for his consistent approach, So has maneuvered his way to the 3rd spot on the leaderboard at the 2023 Norway Chess Tournament. He now stands within striking distance of the title and the significant cash prize, having leapfrogged four other grandmasters, including World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.

His June 6th victory in the 7th round of the tournament against Norway Chess Blitz winner Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan marks Wesley So’s first win in a classical chess game in the ongoing tournament. Opening with the formidable Queen’s Gambit, the three-time United States Chess Champion’s precise and strategic gameplay finally broke his string of drawn classical games and took him straight into the limelight of this elite competition.

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This crucial victory brought So a full 3 points, propelling him into a solo 3rd place with a total of 10.5 points in the 9-round contest featuring ten of the world’s most elite players. He is now hot on the heels of fellow American grandmasters Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, who currently stand in 1st and 2nd place with 14.5 and 12.5 points, respectively.

Previously, So had remained in the bottom half of the standings for most of the first half of the tournament, drawing all of his classical games and proceeding to Armageddon. The reigning Global Champion started his bid for the Norway Chess trophy positioned in the top 5 after the Blitz event and raring to make a comeback in Norway where he defeated Carlsen for the inaugural World Fischer Random Championship in 2019.

He then went on to win his Round 1 down-the-wire thrilling Armageddon event against Nakamura. Since then, he notched wins and “losses” in tiebreaks, quietly piling points. But as chess aficionados know, the current leader and two-time Grand Chess Tour champion has a knack for mounting spectacular comebacks, steadily climbing the ranks, and ultimately taking home tournament victories.

WATCH the Wesley So vs. Nakamura showdown here:

In his post-game interview, Wesley So was visibly upbeat but still in his usual humble demeanor, praising his opponent’s strengths while pointing out how he won the game and why he chose to play the Queen’s Gambit opening. The Cavite-born So was also trading jokes with the commentators IM Jovanka Houska, GM Judit Polgar, and GM David Howell and even recounting an anecdote from the days he played chess in his native country, the Philippines.

Here’s a summary of Wesley So’s match results on Norway Chess:

  • Round 1 Win in Armageddon against Hikaru Nakamura (American)
  • Round 2 Loss in Armageddon against Magnus Carlsen (Norwegian)
  • Round 3 Loss in Armageddon against Anish Giri (Dutch)
  • Round 4 Win in Armageddon against Aryan Tari (Norwegian)
  • Round 5 Loss in Armageddon against Alireza Firouzja (Iranian-French)
  • Round 6 Win in Armageddon against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijani)
  • Round 7 Win in Classical Chess against Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzbek)

With two rounds to go, all eyes are on So as he prepares to face current tournament leader Fabiano Caruana on Thursday and Indian prodigy Dommaraju Gukesh on Friday. As he readies for these pivotal match-ups, the chess world eagerly watches to see if this could be Wesley So’s moment of glory.

Keep up with the live action as the 2023 Norway Chess Tournament unfolds on Thursday and Friday at 8 a.m. PT/ 5 p.m. CEST/ 11 p.m. Philippine Standard Time. Tune in to the live stream on YouTube channels for the gripping developments from this grand showdown.

WATCH this excerpt from the post-game interview and SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Wesley So as he vies for the Norway Chess title!

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Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.