Wesley keeps solo lead in US Chess meet

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Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So settled for a draw in the sixth round, good enough to keep the solo lead in the 2017 US Chess Championship being held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in St. Louis, Missouri.

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So agreed to a draw with GM Varuzhan Akobian to improve his score to four points on two wins and four draws.

Akobian, GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Fabiano Caruana are in a five-way tie for second with 3.5 points each.

GM Alexander Onischuk, GM Ray Robson and GM Samuel Shankland are sharing the seventh spot with three points apiece while GM Jeffrey Xiong is in 10th with 2.5 points followed by GM Gata Kamsky (two points) and GM Alexander Shabalov (0.5)

Caruana defeated Kamsky and Shankland blasted Robson in their sixth-round matches while Naroditsky and Xiong, Shabalov and Nakamura, and Onischuk and Zherebukh ended their games in a draw.

The seventh-round pairings are So versus Robson, Zherebukh versus Caruana, Akobian versus Onischuk, Nakamura versus Shankland, Xiong versus Shabalov and Kamsky versus Narodistky.

The tournament offers a total prize fund of $194,000 with the winner pocketing $50,000 and the runner-up getting $35,000.

After facing Robson, So, who represents the United States Chess Federation in international competitions, will be meeting Nakamura in the eighth round then Xiong in ninth, Kamsky in 10th and Naroditsky in 11th.

So wants to sustain his impressive showing in international tournaments.

Recently, he took the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the 2017 Professional Rapid Online Chess League (former United States Chess League).

EMIL C. NOGUERA

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