Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So defeated GM Timur Gareev and is now only a half point behind leader American GM Hikaru Nakamura going into the sixth round of the US Chess Championships being held in Saint Louis, Missouri, the chess Mecca in the United States.
So, who now carries the American flag after switching federations last year, subdued Gareev in 42 moves of French Robinstein while Nakamura made a short work of GM Daniel Naroditsky in 35 moves of Sicilian Modern Dragon.
So has now 3.5 points while Nakamura has 4 points. The two met in the fourth round that ended in a draw.
The Filipino chess wizard was able to inch closer to Nakamura after GM Ray Robson absorbed his first defeat in the hands of defending champion GM Gata Kamsky in 38 moves of Slav Defense. Kamsky and Robson, a former schoolmate of So at Webster University, now have three points each.
So will meet Robson in the sixth round while Nakamura will go against GM Samuel Shankland and Kamsky will meet GM Alexander Onischuk.
Other pairings are GM Kayden Troff, GM Conrad Holt vs. GM Varuzhan Akobian, and Gareev against Noroditsky.
Sevian, Onischuk and Akobian have 2.5 points, Troff and Shankland have two points each, Gareev and Holt have 1.5 points each while Noroditsky is lagging behind with one point.
So who is aiming to improve his live ratings went up to No.5 via two consecutive wins but dropped back to No.8 (live Elo rating 2788.9) after he lost in the third round.
Nakamura, meanwhile, ascended to No.2 after scoring three wins and two draws in the tournament. He now has 2803.6 live rating, behind current World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Elo 2863) of Norway.