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Sports

Wesley stuns reigning titlist in 53 moves

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - GM Wesley So pulled off a shock 53-move victory over defending champion GM Levon Aronian in a wild Scotch encounter to force a four-way tie for third after three rounds of the 77th Tata Steel Masters in Wijk an Zee, the Netherlands Monday night.

Luring Aronian into a more complex line of the opening made popular by former world champion Gary Kasparov against Anatoly Karpov in one of their World Championship matches, So pounced on his rival’s dubious knight move in the middle game to seize the initiative then simplified the position by forcing exchanges of the major pieces to pound out the win.

It was So’s first victory after back-to-back draws with Polish Radoslaw Wojtaszek and reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, putting the Filipino ace into a four-way tie for third with Wojtaszek, French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Chinese Ding Liren.

The group stood half a point behind co-leaders Fabiano Caruana of Italy, who escaped with a marathon 97-draw of a Queen’s Gambit Declined against 20-year-old Dutch Anish Giri for 2.5 points, the same output put in by Vasily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who downed Dutch Loek Van Wely in 38 moves of a super-sharp Sicilian encounter.

The win also avenged So’s setback to Aronian in this very same tournament last year that sent the former crashing to sixth place while anchoring the latter’s title romp.

“It’s my first win over Aronian, I got revenge from last year’s tournament when he beat me,” said So in an interview with chessbase.com.

More importantly, the victory shoved So past American Hiraku Nakamura as the No. 9 in the world with a live rating of 2777.3 although the Filipino ace is now with the US Chess Federation.

So was playing Caruana, the world No. 2, at presstime, hoping for another favorable result.

He said the key was forcing Aronian to play a complex position.                

AMERICAN HIRAKU NAKAMURA ANATOLY KARPOV ARONIAN CHESS FEDERATION DUTCH ANISH GIRI DUTCH LOEK VAN WELY FABIANO CARUANA OF ITALY FRENCH MAXIME VACHIER-LAGRAVE AND CHINESE DING LIREN GAMBIT DECLINED
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