Defending champion Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So scored 2.5 points after five rounds to share the second spot with six other players in the prestigious 2017 Grand Chess Tour – London Classic being held at the Olympia Conference Center in London, England.
The 24-year old So settled for draws in his first five games against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France (first round), GM Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia (second round), GM Hikaru Nakamura of US (third round), GM Michael Adams of England (fourth round) and world champion and top seed GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway (fifth round).
He is in a seven-way tie for second along with Carlsen, Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura, Adams, Nepomniachtchi and Gm Levon Aronian of Armenia who all have the same 2.5 points after fifth round.
GM Fabiano Caruana of US holds the solo lead with 3.5 points on two wins and three draws.
Caruana blasted GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia in the fourth round and GM Wiswanathan Anand of India in the fifth round then split the point with Carlsen (first), Aronian (second) and Nepomniachtchi (third).
In the sixth round, So will be battling Aronian while Caruana takes on Vachier-Lagrave in the tournament which offers a total prize fund of $300,000 with the champion taking home $75,000 and the runner-up getting $50,000.
The other sixth-round pairings are Adams versus Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura versus Carlsen, and Anand versus Karjakin.
After facing Aronian, So will tackle Caruana in the seventh round, Karjakin in the eighth round and Anand in the ninth round.
Last year, So topped two of the four legs of the Grand Chess Tour.
He ruled the Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic.
EMIL C. NOGUERA