Wesley So unleashed his prowess in the pivotal playoff matches to retain the US Chess Championships crown at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
So first blasted Fabiano Caruana after 46 moves of an English Opening and then bested Samuel Sevian in 33 moves of a King’s Indian Defense in the rapid round robin playoff round to capture the title and the $50,000 prize purse (around P2.5 million).
This was So’s third title after first winning it in 2017.
Caruana and Sevian shared second place and the $30,000 consolation prize.
So, Caruana and Sevian forged the playoffs after ending the 11-round regulation tied on top with identical 6.5 points.
The Cavite-born So finished the regulation with two wins and nine draws.
So cruised on top of the leaderboard after a seventh-round victory with John Burke and held on to it since then along with Sevian.
Caruana, for his part, climbed from seventh place in the sixth round to the top of the regulation after racking up three wins and two draws in his last five matches.
Meanwhile, Leiner Dominguez Perez, Ray Robson and Aleksandr Lenderman shared fourth to sixth places with 6 points and went home with $15,000 each.
Sam Shankland finished seventh with 5.5 points to pocket $9,000, while Dariusz Swiercz and Burke came in tied for eighth with 5 points for $7,500.
Completing the final tally were Jeffery Xiong and Daniel Naroditsky at 10th to 11th places with 4.5 points for $5,500, and Lazaro Bruzon Batista at 12th with 4 points for $4,000.