Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So started his title-retention bid by outclassing untitled Albert Hernandez of the United States in the first round of the prestigious 2015 Millionaire Chess Open being held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 22-year-old So is now leading the pack with one point in the $264,000 tournament which offers a whopping $100,000 to the champion, $50,000 to the runner-up and $25,000 to the third placer.
So, who represents the United States Chess Federation, will be battling GM Alonso Zapata of Colombia in the second round.
The other Filipino entries, GM Rogelio Barcenilla and International Master (IM) Ricardo De Guzman also scored victories in their respective first-round matches.
Barcenilla outplayed Jeevan Karamsetty of US while De Guzman beat Emmanuel Elendu of Nigeria.
Barcenilla arranged a second-round meeting with FIDE Master Luis Flaquer of Dominican Republic while De Guzman faces GM Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suarez of Cuba.
The other winners in the first round were GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Fabriano Caruana, Gata Kamsky and Ray Robson of US; GM Luke McShane of England; GM Liem Le Quang of Vietnam; and GMs Evgeny Bareev and Evgeniy Najer of Russia.
Nakamura defeated Gauri Shankar, Caruana overpowered Inants Aghasi, Kamsky toppled Rustam Bunyatov, Robson nipped Amin Nasri, McShane clobbered Eduardo Rojas Sepulveda, Quang trounced Andrew Boekhoff, Bareev thumped Carl Brandon Boor, and Najer dominated William John Stewart.