HomeGood SportWesley So outplays American Cup top seed, guns for championship win

Wesley So outplays American Cup top seed, guns for championship win

Wesley So American Cup
Fil-Am Wesley So came to the chessboard blazing his rapid skills in the playoffs to win 2 games against Hikaru Nakamura in the 2023 American Cup Grand Final. Saint Louis Chess Club photo from Day 9 by Lennart Ootes.

Wesley So outplayed the 2023 American Cup top seed and is now gunning for the championship title in the Grand Final of the Open Champion’s tournament being played at the Saint Louis Chess Club in the chess capital of Missouri, U.S.A.

Filipino American Grandmaster Wesley So won the two rapid playoff games against heavy favorite Japan-born American GM Hikaru Nakamura in the first playoff match of the Grand Final played Saturday night, March 25 (Sunday morning, March 26).

The two U.S. Chess Champions added 2 more to the 22 drawn games between them on Day 9 of the tourney with their second classical chess game quickly ending in a draw like the previous day’s game which was also drawn after a surprising stalemate, forcing the Championship match to go into playoffs today.

Wesley So then made good use of his second chances in the double-elimination format, displaying his domination as the World No. 3-ranked rapid player over No. 10-ranked Nakamura and executed successive wins in two thrilling speed chess games.

Nakamura and So match up. Screengrab from Saint Louis Chess Club coverage.

In the post-game interview and analysis, Wesley So was asked about his strategy to win.

“As long as I am determined, as long as there is a chance, I’ll take my chances, play my best chess. I know Hikaru is still the favorite to win. But as long as I can put up a good fight, I am happy with that,” the inaugural World Fischer Random Champion shared.

The Fil-Am’s victory today forces a rematch tomorrow in another set of playoff games for the winner of the American Cup Open Section Prize of $50,000. So needs to again beat Nakamura in the next set of games to claim the championship.

The Sunday playoff games will follow the Elimination Bracket rapid time control of 25 minutes plus a 10-second increment from move one. If a tie ensues, the grand final goes into the accelerated rapid of 10 plus a 5-second increment. If still tied, the match goes into the greater time-pressured Blitz games of 3 plus 2-second increment, and if that is not enough will go into the Armageddon game that gives 5 minutes for white, 4 minutes for black, and where black gets draw odds 2-second increment from move 61.

Wesley So earned the right to battle for the 2023 American Cup championship title with his victory in the Open Elimination Bracket Final of the double-round knockout chess tournament between the 8 best overall players living in the United States.

The grandmaster who started his career in the Philippines won his matches in the Champion’s Bracket including his semifinal faceoff against inaugural American Cup defending champion Italian American GM Fabiano Caruana and first-round match against American Sam Shankland – until he met Nakamura in the Champion’s Final where Wesley So lost, sending him to the Open Elimination Bracket Final against Armenian GM Levon Aronian.

Three-time U.S. Chess Champion Wesley So overcame Aronian and bounced back to the Champion’s Bracket to exact revenge on Nakamura and is now vying for the overall title.

The American Cup Grand Final continues on March 25 at 1:30 PM CDT (March 26 at 2:30 AM PST) at the World Chess Hall of Fame at the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Wesley So is a three-time US Chess Champion, a two-time Grand Chess Tour Champion, the inaugural World Fischer Random Chess Champion, and the current Chess Global Champion.

He is playing to win his second title this year after his victory at the World Chess Armageddon Championship Series: Americas leg held in Berlin, Germany, and earning a spot in the tournament’s Grand Finale.

Wesley So is the current leader of the FIDE Circuit, the newest qualification path to the 2024 Candidates Tournament which decides the challenger for the World Championship match.

WATCH Wesley So play in the American Cup Grand Final live here on March 25 at 1:30 PM CDT (March 26 at 2:30 AM PST) and SEND WELL WISHES in the comments below as he battles for the American Cup Championship!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
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.

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