Welsey So waltzed past former world rapid champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan, 14.5-12.5, to advance to the quarterfinals of the Speed Chess Championship 2022 on Thursday, Dec. 8.
From a deadlock at seven points, the former two-time United States champion turned things around by outscoring the talented 18-year-old Uzbek the rest of the way, 7.5-5.5, to seal the match victory.
The win set the Cavite-born American up against old nemesis Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, who routed world standard challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, 19.5-11.5.
If So ends up beating Vachier-Lagrave, he’ll be on a collision course against reigning world classical king Magnus Carlsen or World No. 5 Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the semis.
Carlsen annihilated Indian Dommaraju Gukesh, 23-7, while Caruana eliminated another youthful Indian bet Arjun Erigaisi, 14.5-12.5.
So is eyeing a return stint in the finals after making it that far last year only to get overpowered by defending champion Hikaru Nakamura of the United States in a forgettable 23-8 defeat.
Other quarterfinalists were Nakamura, who flattened Russian David Paravyan, 19.5-7.5; Armenian-born American Levon Aronian, who edged Russian Dmitry Andreikin, 14.5-13.5; Chinese Ding Liren, a 14-12 winner over Russian Alexander Grischuk, 14-12; and Indian Nihal Sarin, who stunned Dutch Anish Giri, 15-14.