Wesley So wins TATA Steel Chess

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

On Sunday, Filipino-US chess grandmaster Wesley So won this year's Tata Steel Chess Tournament, held in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, securing 9.0 points out of thirteen. Following closely in second place was current World Champion Magnus Carlsen with 8.0 points.

Nepomniachtchi castles offering a pawn sacrifice.
Image: Lichess.

Wesley So won five games and drew the remaining eight. A player gets a point for each win, half a point for a draw and no points for a loss. He is currently on a 56 lossless game streak.

In the final round, Wesley So was paired against Russian grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi. Wesley So captured a central pawn which was expected to be recaptured to equalise material but wasn't. Soon, his opponent unexpectedly castled offering a pawn sacrifice which was accepted. Despite being ahead in material his opponent threatened to capture his queen. However, he was able to defend using his extra central pawn and prevent counter-play forcing the Russian to resign.

He won last year's Grand Chess Tour by winning the Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Classic and coming second in the Leuven Grand Chess Tour.

Magnus Carlsen won four, tied eight and lost a game against Richárd Rapport. In the last round he faced his rival and contender for the World Chess Championship of the last year, Russian Sergey Karjakin. In the game, Karjakin provoked Carlsen to sacrifice his knight on which grandmaster Fabiano Caruana tweeted, "Karjakin must be in a very charitable mood". He quickly sacrificed his knight pinning Karjakin's knight to his queen. Despite being a piece down he gained an advantageous position. Karjakin defended his position extremely well, as grandmaster Alejandro Ramírez said, "He can commit the most despicable errors and then show world-class toughness from the next second!". The defence worked and a draw was agreed upon.

Also known as the "Wimbledon of Chess", the Tata Steel Chess tournament attracts top chess players every year. The tournament has two professional groups, Masters and Challengers, and an amateur group. It is organised in a round-robin format where each player plays a game against all other players. The tournament is scheduled to run its 80th edition next year in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands.


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