Wesley So Takes Center Stage, Leads Champions Chess Tour with Stunning Victory Over Carlsen

Wesley So Champions Chess Tour
Wesley So, deep in concentration at the Champions Chess Tour Finals, exemplifying strategic mastery and calm under pressure. CCT/Chesscom photo.

Filipino-American chess Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So has seized the spotlight at the 2023 Champions Chess Tour (CCT) Finals. In a remarkable performance, So emerged victorious over world-renowned GM Magnus Carlsen, securing a solo lead in the prestigious tournament.

Held at the ONE Hotel in Toronto, the same venue of So’s triumph in last year’s Chesscom Global Championship, the CCT Finals have seen So defeating top-tier opponents. His undefeated streak includes wins against Hikaru Nakamura, Denis Lazavik, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alireza Firouzja, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov. So’s only remaining opponent before the semifinals is Fabiano Caruana.

So-Carlsen, 2-1

In a critical Round 5 match against Carlsen, So showcased strategic mastery and resilience. The first game was a testament to So’s deep understanding of rook and pawn endgames, where he skillfully navigated a pawn-down position to a stalemate. The second game concluded in a draw, setting the stage for a thrilling armageddon showdown.

With a stunning display, So capitalized on Carlsen’s risky queen sacrifice to clinch the match. His victory not only marks his fifth consecutive match win but also cements his status as a formidable contender in the tournament, challenging any pre-tournament skepticism about his form.

Commentators remarked that So’s stunning victory over the tournament favorite and defending champion is reminiscent of their face-off for the World Fischer Random Championship which the Fil-Am won.

So-Abdusattorov, 1-5-1.5

Wesley So skillfully secured a 1.5-1.5 draw against Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Abdusattorov’s attempt to leverage his bishop pair in the second game was thwarted by So’s solid defense, despite a near-perfect Scotch Game. A critical moment occurred when Abdusattorov captured a pawn with 30…Qxh4?, missing a chance for a more aggressive strategy. The match progressed to an endgame where a draw was inevitable due to perpetual check and pawn liquidation. This tense game marked the closest So came to defeat in the tournament, highlighting the intense level of competition.

About the Champions Chess Tour

The CCT Finals feature a three-day, eight-player round-robin format. Games are played in best-of-three sets with a 15+3 rapid chess time control, with armageddon games if necessary. Following the round-robin, the top players will advance to a knockout stage, with the grand final slated for December 15-16.

So’s journey to the CCT Finals has been nothing short of spectacular, and his recent performances have undoubtedly intensified the excitement for the upcoming matches. Chess enthusiasts can catch the game live on YouTube with live commentary from the ONE Hotel Toronto and Chesscom’s studio in Oslo.

Check out the Day 3 stream here:

Stay tuned for more updates on Wesley So’s path in the Champions Chess Tour. Don’t forget to read more about his incredible journey to the 2023 CCT Finals in our previous articles. Share this story to celebrate So’s achievements and keep up with the latest in the world of chess!

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