Grandmaster Wesley So blasted Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, 3-1, to trail world champion Magnus Carlsen at the start of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Grand Finals Saturday.
So prevailed in the second and last of their four-game duel while settling for draws in the other two to gain three match points for a total of 15.5 points, four points behind leader Carlsen with 19.5 points.
Carlsen came into the finale with 16.5 points already listed on his name for finishing on top after the preliminary legs while So had already carried over 12.5 points from previous leg results.
So made it to the finale by finishing second overall behind Tour leader Carlsen after topping three legs—the Skilling Open, the Euro Opera Rapid and the Chessable Masters.
Both So and Carlsen gained three points after the opening round of the finale since this 10-player, single-round robin format tournament gives three points to a win and two points for a victory that went to the tiebreaker.
A loss via tiebreaker is equal to a point while those who lost in regulation will have none.
Carlsen made short work of Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda, 2.5-0.5.
Armenia’s Levon Aronian was running third with nine points despite losing to France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the Armageddon tiebreak, while Netherlands’ Anish Giri was at fourth after earning two points after a two-game blitz tiebreaker win over Hikaru Nakamura of the United States.
Trailing Giri were Teimur Radjabov (7 points), Russia’s Vladislav Artemiev (5.5), Nakamura (5), Vachier-Lagrave (4.5), Mamedyarov (0.5), and Duda (0).
The winner here pockets the top purse worth $100,000.