So sustains Bilbao Chess Masters title defense

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Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So posted an important eighth-round victory over GM Anish Giri of the Netherlands to keep his title-retention bid alive with two rounds left in the 9th Bilbao Chess Masters Final being held in Bilbao, Spain.

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The 22-year-old So improved to nine points on one win and six draw to move into the third spot along with GM Wei Yi of China.

World champion GM Magnus Carlsen stayed on top with 13 points while GM Hikaru Nakamura remained in second with 10 points.

Carlsen drew his eighth-round match with GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia while Nakamura also split the point with Wei in the other game.

Karjakin dropped to fifth place with seven points while Giri fell to last position with six points.

The Filipino champion needs to win his two remaining games to retain the crown.

He will be facing Wei in ninth round and Carlsen in the final round of the tournament, which employs a football-like scoring system, giving three points for a win and one point for a draw.

Last year, So won the title via a 4-1 victory over Giri in the tiebreak.

So and Giri were actually tied on top after the double-round robin, forcing a two-game blitz match to break the tie. So won the first game while the second match ended in a draw.

EMIL C. NOGUERA

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