So’s Rise To The Top
With a winning streak of 58 games in almost a year’s time, Wesley So is headed to the top of the United States Chess Championship. Only 23 years old, Wesley So is currently ranked the second best chess player in the world. So began in the sport when he was taught by his grandfather at the age of 6 and received a scholarship for college chess in 2012. So moved to the US in 2015 and only a year after began his incredible winning streak.
In 2016 at the Bilbao tournament, Wesley So tied for third competing against the top rated GM Magnus Carlsen. In August of 2016, Wesley So edged out a victory at the Sinquefield Cup with 5.5/9, only a 0.5 point lead against four other players. Only a month later, at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, Wesley So took the games with 7 wins and 3 draws. At the Isle of Man open So had to settle for 3rd, however he won victory over some of the same opponents at the London Chess Classic in December. Needless to say, So has been roaring towards a grand winning streak for a long time coming.
Short But Sweet
On Sunday, So faced off against Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky. The game ended in a draw, however the draw was not reached after a battle of wits. This match was only a total of 17 minutes long. Wesley So utilized the Berlin defense, usually this forces the opponent to attack, however Naroditsky chose not to, leading to the draw. Many believe Naroditsky chose not to attack due to the intimidation that comes along with So’s internationally known reputation and skill. Not to mention, his longstanding winning streak.
On Monday, So faced off against former U.S. Champ Alex Onischuk in a final battle for first place as by the eleventh round they were tied. However, it still took two more games to break the tie. The players took a break between rounds, So spoke with family and seemed generally relaxed, Onischuk took his usual private break with his wife and seemed tense. In the final game Onischuk was ahead, but due to the time restraints of rapid chess, Onischuk was running short which resulted in poor judgement, causing the loss. Onishuk return to tournament play is a rarity, as for the past several years most competitors are under the age of forty.
The Future’s Looking Bright
In this year’s U.S. Chess Championship, Wesley So competed against 11 of the world’s top Grandmasters, finally winning in a playoff against Alex Onischuk, the 2006 U.S. Champion, elongating his winning streak. Now ranked number one nationally and a world rank of two, So is also $50,000 richer! After winning several more challenging international matches, So has now added the title of U.S. Champion to his resume. Next, you will be able to find So at the 2017 4th Gashimov Memorial Shamkir starting April 20th and ending May 1st.