Grandmaster Wesley So fell prey to Alireza Firouzja of France, 2.5-0.5, in the first of their two-day quarterfinal showdown in the Aimchess US Rapid of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Wednesday.
So lost the first game in 52 moves of a Nimzo-Indian as well as the second in 70 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined before drawing the third in 46 moves of a Sicilian to give the Iran-born Firouzja the early edge.
To stay alive, the world Fischer-Random king and two-time United States champion would need to win the final four-game duel Thursday.
If it happens, it would force a two-game tiebreaker using less time control on the same day.
In other quarterfinal results, world classical champion Magnus Carlsen trounced Polish Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 2.5-1.5; Armenian Levon Aronian downed Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 3-1; and Russian Vladislav Artemiev and American Leinier Dominguez Perez drew, 2-2.
So absorbed three losses in the preliminaries and barely made it to the knockout quarterfinals as the No. 5 seed.