Grandmaster Wesley So has grabbed the solo lead after Round 4 of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, the fifth and final stop of the Filipino American’s title defense at the Grand Chess Tour (GCT).
The 2021 GCT champion now ranks first on the Sinquefield Cup leaderboard with 2.5 tour points after drawing against former World Champion Challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia in the fourth round that was played on September 6 (Monday, September 5 US time).
— Angie Quadra-Balibay (@AngieQBalibay) September 6, 2022
So was in solo 2nd place going into the fourth round after winning against fellow US Team member Fabiano Caruana in the third round.
The World No. 6 FIDE-ranked chess player is seeking a historic third GCT title after winning twice in 2021 and 2016, a feat he shares only with World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.
The three-time reigning United States champion, who started his career in the Philippines before moving to the United States to continue competing internationally, must continue to earn top points with five more rounds to play at the final event of the 7th edition of the GCT to have a chance to overtake the current tour leaders and retain his champion title.
The 28-year-old from Cavite province in the Philippines won 2nd place in last year’s Sinquefield Cup but eventually won the overall GCT tour championship which is determined by tour points accumulated from five events in the series.
The Filipino American chess player was leading the GCT board with 22.5 points after the first three events after a strong start placing 2nd at the Superbet Chess Classic Romania in May, and despite his 5th place finish at the Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland also in May and tied for 4th rank at the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia held in July.
So opted out of the Saint Louis event in August following the tour rules to only participate in 2 out of 3 Rapid & Blitz games.
After Saint Louis, So’s 22.5 points dropped to 4th spot behind Frenchmen Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alireza Firouzja, and fellow American player, Levon Aronian.
Wesley So is playing to win a third GCT title for a solo spot in the history of the tournament inspired and founded by legendary Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, one of the world’s greatest ambassadors for chess.
Kasparov witnessed the Filipino-American’s victory last year and said that “Wesley won because he is the most stable and most reliable player. Wesley in this calm environment – he proved to be the most resilient among the challengers.”
Wesley So unexpectedly will not play a match against Magnus Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup after the Norwegian announced his withdrawal from the tournament on Monday.
After the GCT, So is set to defend his Fischer Random Chess Championship title against Carlsen and two other invited players in the Iceland event scheduled for October 25-31.
The Grand Chess Tour live stream can be viewed on the St. Louis Chess Club YouTube channel daily at 12:50 pm (AM Manila time) until September 13.
SEND CONGRATULATIONS & WELL WISHES in the comments below to Wesley So as he continues to play for top points at the Sinquefield Cup for a chance to execute a historic 3rd win at the 2022 Grand Chess Tour!
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