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So young, so tough as nail

Wesley So

KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia – Young Grandmaster Wesley So took the chess world by storm anew with a 53-move conquest of defending champion Gata Kamsky of the US and moved a draw closer to the Round of 16 Friday in the 2009 World Cup of chess.

In a grand follow-up to his stunning second-round upset win over former world championship contender GM Vassily Ivanchuk, the 16-year old Filipino champion stunned Kamsky in the opener of their third-round showdown at the Khanty-Mansiysk Centre of Arts here Friday.

So, with an Elo of 2640, played with surgical precision as he dismantled the older, more-experienced Kamsky to score a king-size win with the black pieces in 53 moves of the French defense.

Before Kamsky resigned, So was unmistakably ahead with a queen, rook, knight and four pawns against Kamsky’s queen, rook, knight and two pawns.

So, from Bacoor, Cavite, was poised to trap Kamsky’s exposed king on g2 with his more active pieces on the board.

“I really played very well against him (Kamsky). I was prepared for the game. I caught him at the opening and he spent a lot of time,” So told the official website of the World Chess Cup.

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 “I just hope that tomorrow I will be also lucky,” added So, who refused a draw offer by Kamsky in the 18th move.

So, who also defeated Ivanchuk with the black pieces in the first game of their two-game second round showdown, now needs only a draw with the 27th-seeded Kamsky (Elo 2695) in their second game Saturday to reach the tough, 16-player fourth round.

The Filipino champion will play white this time.

If the Russian-born Kamsky manages to win, the match will go into rapid tiebreak matches on Sunday.

So slammed the door on GM Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan, 4-1, in the first round and Ivanchuk, 1.5-.5 in the second round, while Kamsky eliminated Filipino GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., 1.5-.5, in the first round and GM Zhou Weiqi of China by the same score the following round.

If successful against Kamsky, So’s fourth-round opponent is the winner of the match between No. 11 seed GM Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine and No. 22 GM Vladimir Malakhov of Russia.

Eljanov (Elo 2729), second-round winner over GM Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia, 3.5-2.5, and Malakhov (Elo 2706), victor over GM Ilia Smirin of Israel, 3.5-1.5, drew their first game in the third round.

Other possible opponents for So are former world championship campaigners GMs Peter Svidler of Russia, Alexei Shirov of Spain, Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia and Arkadj Naiditsch of Germany.

 National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Prospero “Butch” Pichay said the worldwide attention that So is getting in the world’s biggest individual chess competition is not at all surprising.

“Wesley has already beaten some of the world’s best players. He defeated super GM Ni Hua of China and drew with GM Alexei Shirov of Spain during the 2008 World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany and drew with super GM Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine in the Asian Championship in Al Ain, UAE,” said Pichay.

“Now, Ivanchuk and Kamsky are finding out how good Wesley is,” added Pichay, who was singled out by So during an interview with the World Cup website for his “tremendous role in the development of chess in the Philippines.”

Pichay, whose untiring leadership in the local chess association enabled So and six other players to earn their GM titles in a span of less than four years, said So will surely go for the jugular against Kamsky on Saturday night.

In other notable GM third-round results, it was top seed Boris Gelfand of Israel over former world women’s champion Judit Polgar, David Navara of Cezch Republic over Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan over Wang Hao of China, Nikita Vitiugov over fellow Russian Konstantin Sakaev, Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine over Alexander Motylev of Russia, Dmitry Jakovneko of Russia over Alexander Areshchenko of Ukraine and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France over Yu Yangyi of China.

The eight other matches were agreed drawn, including the games between Svidler and Naiditsch and GM Etienne Bacrot of France and GM Wang Yue of China.

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