So clinches final tussle with world No. 2 Caruana in Clutch Chess

MANILA, Philippines – What he failed to do in the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge, Wesley So achieved in the Clutch Chess Champions Showdown.

The Filipino-born So stunned Hikaru Nakamura, 9.5-8.5, in 12 games to advance to the finals against world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana, who routed Leinier Dominguez Perez (15-3) in another 12-game encounter of the $100,000 online event confined to the United States’ top 4 players and staged by the St. Louis Chess Center.

Trailing Nakamura, 3.5-4.5, after the first 6 games on Tuesday, May 26 (Wednesday, May 27, Philippine time), So seized control in the second half with 3 straight wins and held fort to frustrate the noted speed chess exponent.

After yielding the fourth game (10th overall), So avoided disaster by drawing the next two “clutch games.”

Under the novel format conceptualized by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, the 11th and 12th games are worth 3.0 points each, meaning Nakamura would have overtaken So by winning either one of the concluding games.

It was a good rebound for So from a 2.5-0.5 (twice) trouncing he got from world champion Magnus Carlsen in the Lindores Abbey quarterfinals.

The victory over So pushed Carlsen into the semifinals, where the Norwegian top seed is slated to face Nakamura.

Chinese Ding Liren and Russian Daniil Dubov will tangle in the other semifinals following victories over compatriots Yu Yangyi and Sergey Karjakin in the third mini matches on Wednesday.

Handling black, Ding drew with Yu in the Armageddon tiebreaker of the quarterfinals to advance against Dubov, who swept Karjakin, 3-0, in their matchup. –