Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So finished second overall in the prestigious 2016 US Chess Championship held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in Missouri, US.
So scored 7.5 points on four wins and seven draws – just a full point behind eventual champion GM Fabiano Caruana, who collected 8.5 points (six wins and five draws).
The Filipino wizard was actually in a tie with 2005 champion GM Hikaru Nakamura but So took the second spot by virtue of superior tiebreak points.
The 22-year-old So posted victories over GM Gata Kamsky (first round), International Master Akshat Chandra (second), GM Varuzhan Akobian (fifth) and Gm Alexander Shabalov (seventh) then agreed to a draw with Caruana (third), GM Samuel Shankland (fourth), Nakamura (fifth), GM Alexander Onischuk (eighth), GM Jeffrey Xiong (ninth), GM Ray Robson (10th) and GM Aleksandr Lenderman (11th).
Caruana took home the $50,000 top purse while So settled for $35,000 and Nakamura got $25,000.
Rounding up the standings were Robson in fourth with seven points followed by Onischuk (six points), Xiong (5.5 points), Kamsky (five points), Lendermand, Shankland and GM Varush Akobian (4.5 points), Shabalov (four points) and Chandra (1.5 points).
“A shout out to the younger players who were experiencing this US Championship event for the first time. You were all impressive and I wish you great success for your future. I specially want to mention Akshat Chandra. It takes a lot of guts to keep fighting when things aren’t going well. It takes courage just to show up,” So said.
EMIL C. NOGUERA