Grandmaster Wesley So got off to a strong start by jumping half a point behind pacesetter Anish Giri of the Netherlands after five rounds of the FTX Crypto Cup of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour on Monday, May 24.
The Cavite-born So clinched back-to-back victories over Russians Alexander Grischuk and Daniil Dubov before drawing with world champion Magnus Carlsen, fellow American Hikaru Nakamura and Iran-born Alireza Firouzja.
His performance kept him in a three-way tie for second with Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France with identical 3.5 points.
Giri led with four points on three wins and two draws.
Surprisingly out of the magic eight was reigning world classical champion Carlsen, who struggled with just 2.5 points that was exacerbated by a stinging fourth-round defeat at the hands of Vachier-Lagrave.
Meanwhile, China’s Ding Liren, Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and Firouzja were at joint fifth with 3 points, while United States’ Fabiano Caruana and Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi tied with Carlsen.
Other results saw Dubov, Russia’s Peter Svidler and Armenia’s Levon Aronian with 2 points; Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with 1.5 points, Grischuk with 1 and Argentina’s Alan Pichot with 0.5.
So eyes his sixth straight quarterfinals appearance in this edition staking record prize pot for an online tournament of $320,000 with $100,000 of that serving as a bonus paid in crypto coins.
He also aims to regain the solo overall tour lead after Carlsen snatched it by ruling the New in Chess Classic early this month.