Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So started his campaign on a high note by blasting GM Alexander Shabalov in the opening round of the prestigious 2017 US Chess Championship being held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in St. Louis, Missouri.
So and GM Hikaru Nakamura are sharing the top spot with one point each. Nakamura defeated GM Ray Robson in their first-round match.
GM Samuel Shankland, GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Alexander Onischuk, GM Yaroslav Zherebukh, GM Varuzhan Akobian, GM Jeffrey Xiong, GM Gata Kamsky and GM Daniel Naroditsky are in an eight-way tie for No. 3 with half a point apiece while Robson and Shabalov are in the bottom of the rankings without a point.
Shankland and Fabiano settled to a draw as well as the matches of Onischuk and Naroditsky, Zherebukh and Kamsky, and Xiong and Akobian.
So will be facing Shankland in the second round before meeting Caruana in the third, Onischuk in the fourth and Zherebukh in the fifth.
There will be a one-day rest before the sixth round.
So resumes his campaign in the sixth round against Akobian then will meet Robson in the seventh, Nakamura in the eighth, Xiong in the ninth, Kamsky in the 10th and Naroditsky in the final round.
A total of $194,000 cash prize is at stake in the 11-round tournament with the champion getting $50,000 and the runner-up taking home $35,000.
The third placer gets $25,000, fourth placer pockets $20,000 and fifth placer earns $15,000.
So, who represents the United States Chess Federation in international competitions, is fresh from bagging the Most Valuabe Player award in the 2017 Professional Rapid Online Chess League (formerly United States Chess League) held last week.