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Sports

Wesley retains US Open crown

The Philippine Star
Wesley retains US Open crown
Wesley So
Wesley So via Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Wesley So, born and raised in the Philippines but now an American citizen, was once again crowned as the US Chess champion yesterday.

The 27-year-old So bested Fabiano Caruana and Samuel Sevian in the rapid playoff to rule the highly-prestigious annual event at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri.

It was the second straight US Championship crown for the world Fischer-Random king and third overall after reigning supreme four years ago when he turned back Alexander Onischuk in another rapid tiebreaker.

He pocketed $50,000 ( P2.5 million) for his feat while Caruana and Sevian each earned $30,000.

So later said he never really expected to win after he finished tied for first with Caruana and Sevian with 6.5 points in the 12-player tournament en route to a playoff tiebreaker.

“I thought the tournament was pretty much over by yesterday (Monday). Fabiano almost won three games in a row,” So said in a chess.com article. “It just gave me a new breath of life that the tournament was not yet over, that I might still have some chances.”

It helped that So played like he had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“I just wanted to play fast today and make some good moves. I was playing with no pressure. I did not expect this playoff, so I was just playing chess. If chances come, good, if I lose, that’s fine,” he said.

That mental approach bore fruit as So kept his cool in the endgame while Caruana buckled in tremendous time pressure when the latter blew a winning advantage and allowed the former to snatch the win.

It turned out to be the clincher as So tore Sevian apart to claim the crown.

“Fabi plays for a win with both colors, and soon I found myself in a very difficult position. Probably, in the endgame, he missed a win somewhere,” said So of Caruana.

WESLEY SO
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