Grandmaster Wesley So booked his sixth straight quarterfinal appearance in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour after finishing at joint second in the preliminaries of the FTX Crypto Cup Wednesday, May 26.
The Fischer-Random king and two-time United States champion tied with three others with identical 9 points after downing Alan Pichot of Argentina and drawing with Armenia’s Levon Aronian, France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the Netherlands’ Anish Giri and China’s Ding Liren in the last five prelim rounds.
The Cavite-born So, however, wound up as the fifth seed after tiebreaks were applied and forged a quarters duel with No. 4 Vachier-Lagrave on Thursday, May 27.
Fabiano Caruana topped the prelims to clinch the No. 1 seeding with 10 points, arranging a quarters matchup with Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi.
It marked the sixth straight time that So would make an appearance in the knockout playoffs in the tour that ended with two titles in the Skilling Open in November last year and the Opera Euro Rapid in February.
So is hoping to regain the overall tour lead from world classical champion Magnus Carlsen with a strong performance in this event staking $220,000 in cash with $100,000 of that serving as a bonus paid in crypto coins.
So almost achieved the feat as Carlsen teetered on the brink of elimination but qualified anyway, thanks to a 15th and final round triumph over Airthings Masters titlist Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.
Carlsen ended up as the sixth seed and will tangle with No. 3 American Hikaru Nakamura.
The other quarters pairing pit No. 2 Giri versus No. 7 Radjabov.
“Obviously it’s a massive relief,” said Carlsen.