Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So ruled the 2017 US Chess Championship held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis in St. Louis, Missouri.
The 22-year-old blasted GM Alexander Onischuk in the playoff via a 1.5-0.5 decision to bag the top honors in the tournament sanctioned by the International Chess Federation.
So took home the $50,000 champion’s prize while Onischuk the $35,000 runner-up purse.
“I can’t believe I won this tournament considering the way that I played. My play here has a lot to be improved upon. I found it hard to win games,” So said in an interview posted at the tournament’s official website.
“Thank you to my competitors, all of you fought so hard it really was a fight every day just to stay ahead by half a point. I am proud to have many of you as teammates in different events. GM Onischuk, you were fantastic and I really enjoyed learning from you,” added So.
After 11 rounds, So and Onischuk were sharing the No. 1 spot with identical seven points each, forcing the organizers to hold a playoff to break the tie.
So has three wins and eight draws beating GM Alexander Shabalov in the first round, Onischuk in the fourth round and GM Jeffrey Xiong in the ninth round.
He agreed to a draw with GM Samuel Shankland (second round), GM Fabiano Caruana (third), GM Yaroslav Zherebukh (fifth round), GM Varuzhan Akobian (sixth round), GM Ray Robson (seventh), GM Hikaru Nakamura (eighth), GM Gata Kamsky (10th) and Gm Daniel Naroditsky (11th).
Tied at the No. 3 spot are Akobian, Caruana and Nakamura with 6.5 points apiece while Zherebukh is at sixth with 5.5 points.
At seventh are Kamsky, Shankland and Naroditsky with five points each followed by Robson in 10th (4.5 points), Xiong in 11th(4.0 points) and Shabalov in 12th (3.5 points).
It was So’s second major title this year after topping the 2017 Tata Steel Chess Tournament held in January in the Netherlands.