Wesley So pulls upset over birthday boy Magnus Carlsen to win Skilling Open

Wesley So (right) shakes hand with Magnus Carlsen. (Photo from Fischer Random World Championship website)

Grandmaster Wesley So crashed reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen’s birthday party early Tuesday by clinching the Skilling Open of the Champions Chess Tour held online.

The 27-year-old So triumphed in the first of the two-game blitz playoff and drew the second to win the title over Carlsen, who turned 30 on Monday.

The victory earned So US$30,000 (P1.5 million).

“I have to apologize to Magnus for semi-ruining his birthday,” said So during a post-game interview with host app chess24.

Wesley So (Photo from chess24.com)

The victory was reminiscent of So’s 13.5-2.5 conquest of Carlsen in snaring the Fischer-Random world title last year, displaying the Cavite-born’s ability to challenge the Norwegian world No. 1 player for winning their duel.

In the first set of the two four-game matches on Monday, So and Carlsen won both their games with White for a 2-2 result.

It was different in the second set as Carlsen and So each won with black in the first two games and then fought to draws in the last two to end up with another 2-2 standoff, sending the duel into a two-game blitz showdown.

In that crucial matchup, it was So who took advantage of the chances given to him by winning the first game with white and escaping with a draw from a losing position to carve out an upset victory.

Carlsen appeared to have headed to taking the second blitz playoff game and forcing a final “Armageddon” playoff after sacrificing a piece for two dangerous connected kingside pawns.

But the world champion of standard, rapid and blitz couldn’t cash in on his edge and allowed So to snare a title-clinching truce.

More detailed results are posted at championschesstour.com.