Grandmaster Wesley So halved the point with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France to stay at second place after the eighth and penultimate round of the Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest, Romania Sunday, June 13.
So agreed to a draw after 40 moves of an English Opening to slightly improve to 4.5 points and remain stranded at second place with two others behind solo leader Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.
Mamedyarov split the point with Anish Giri of the Netherlands after 25 moves of an English duel to lead by a full point with 5.5 points.
Tying with So, meanwhile, were Armenia’s Levon Aronian and Russia’s Alexander Grischuk.
Aronian caught up with So by dismantling Romanian Bogdan-Daniel Deac’s Sicilian Defense in 62 moves while Grischuk battled world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana to a marathon 66-move standoff of a Ruy Lopez game.
With just a round remaining, So’s title chances would be slim as Mamedyarov just needs a draw with Vachier-Lagrave in the last round Monday to claim the crown and a big share of the total cash pot worth $325,000.
The only way for So to win is if Mamedyarov loses and he beats Romanian Constantin Lupulescu and winds up with the higher tiebreak.
Otherwise, the best chance for So is finish second, which is not bad since the tournament is considered one of the strongest events in the year with the participation of eight of the top players in the world today.