Grandmaster Wesley So scored 3.5 points in the last five rounds of the prelims to clinch the top seeding in the knockout round of the Chessable Masters of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Monday, August 2.
The Cavite-born So downed Indians Humpy Koneru and Baskaran Adhiban and then drew with Vietnamese Le Quang Liem, Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Dutch Jorden van Foreest to finish at the helm after the 15-round prelims with 11 points.
The world Fischer-Random king and two-time United States champion also forged a quarterfinal duel with van Foreest, who finished at No. 8 with 8.5 points.
The other quarterfinal pairings pit No. 2 Levon Aronian of Armenia versus No. 7 Mamedyarov, No. 3 Alireza Firouzja of France against No. 6 Le, and No, 4 Hikaru Nakamura of the US against No. 5 Vladislav Artemiev of Russia.
It was a spectacular performance by So as he finished undefeated in the prelims on seven victories and eight draws.
So will be the prohibitive favorite to win the $1.6 million tournament and claim his third tour crown after topping the inaugural Skilling Open in November last year and the Euro Opera Rapid in February.
A triumph here should also push So closer to overall tour leader and reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, who skipped this event because he’s currently playing in the 2021 Chess World Cup in Sochi, Russia.