Grandmaster Wesley So got off to a rough start after absorbing three defeats in his first five games in the New In Chess Classic of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Sunday, April 25.
So yielded to Iran-born Alireza Firouzja, Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda and England’s Gawain Jones but cushioned the impact of his free fall with wins over rising Indian star Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
The painful start put the Fischer Random king and two-time United States champion in a four-way logjam at 11th place with two points, putting him in danger of missing the playoff round for the first time after five legs of this tour.
But So has 10 more rounds to put himself in the quarterfinal contention, including games against the big guns like reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, American Hikaru Nakamura and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.
Radjabov, running second to So in the tour race on the strength of his Airthings Masters triumph in January, was leading the way with four points, half a point ahead of Firouzja and Carlsen with 3.5 points each.
Rounding out the top eight were Armenia-born Levon Aronian, Nakamura, India’s Vidit Gujathri and Mamedyarov.
So made it to the quarterfinals in the first four editions including two where he ended up champion –the Skilling Open in November last year and Opera Euro Rapid in February.