Grandmaster Wesley So, ranked No.8 in the world, was beaten by Sam Sevian, the youngest chess grandmaster in the world in 41 moves of Anti-Meran Variations in the third round of the US Chess Championships currently being held in Saint Louis, Missouri.
The Filipino woodpusher, handling white pieces, was in solid position for much of the game, only to blunder as his clock was winding down when he pushed back his queen to h5 on the 25th move, giving the young American the chance to force a queen-to-queen exchange.
After three rounds, So, 21, who won his first two rounds, has two points, while Sevian has 1.5 points on 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss.
All hopes are not lost for So who will face in the crucial fourth round US No. 1 player GM Hikaru Nakamura, 27, now ranked No.3 in the world. Nakamura has 2.5 points after three rounds on two wins and a draw. He won this tournament in 2012.
This championship is a 12-player round robin where the champion will receive a $45,000 prize.
The tournament is So’s first in America after switching federation from the Philippines to US late last year.
The other players competing are GM Ray Robson who has 2.5 points on two wins and a draw, GM Gata Kamsky who has 1.5 points together with GM Alexander Onischuk, GM Varuzhan Akobian, and GM Kayde Troff; GM Samuel Shankland who has 1 point same with GM Timur Gareev and GM Conrad Holt, and GM Danil Noroditsky (.5 point).
Other pairings in the fourth round are: Troff versus Shankland, Sevian-Noroditsky, Gareev-Kamsky, Robson-Akobian, and Onischuk against Holt.
Sevian played brilliantly, holding his nerve despite time pressure.
After 23 moves, Sevian had two bishops, two knights and a rook as against So’s one black bishop, one knight and two rooks. Here white was still in winning position. However, in the next move Sevian threatened the white queen with Ng4 move. So, after a costly mistake, placed his queen on h5.
The Filipino tried to elicit a draw but having only a rook and a bishop left and on the brink of being checkmated in seven moves, So resigned after 41 moves.