Wesley So wins 2020 US Chess Championship

So wins his second U.S. title. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club. (photo from Chess.com)

GM Wesley So pocketed $40,000 for winning solo in the 12-strong All-American GM field, 2020 US Championship tournament at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Saint Louis, Missouri.

The Filipino chess wizard, who now plays for the US flag, was unbeaten through 11 rounds of the Rapid G/25+5 time control competition – collected seven wins and four draws, including the crucial two draws with GM Ray Robson and GM Hikaru Nakamura in the final two rounds.

So, the top seed in the competition still had 16 minutes and 17 seconds on his game clock playing with the black pieces in Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence against GM Robson in Round 10 and played the white pieces against GM Hikaru Nakamura in a fast-paced Nimzo-Indian Defence that was settled to a draw after the 30th move.

So defeated his first five opponents – GMs Aleksandr Lenderman, Alejandro Ramirez, Awonder Liang, Sam Shankland and Dariusz Swiercz before drawing the next rounds with GM Leinier Dominguez Perez in Round 6 and with GM Samuel Sevian in Round 7.

He stringed two straights win against GM Eslah Moradiabadi in Round 8 and GM Jeffery Xiong in Round 9 before his final performance with Robson and Nakamura.

After leaving the Philippines Chess federation, So made a strong presence as a professional chess player by winning the Millionaire Chess Open in 2014 that also marked his parting with the Susan Polgar-mentored Webster University Chess team that took him to the US to study in college on a chess scholarship grant.

So then won the 2016 Grand Chess Tour that was capped with the 2016 Sinquefield Cup title. He also won two gold medals at the 2016 Baku Olympiad, one as a board three plyer, and one with the team. He jumped the FIDE rating of 2800 by winning the 2017 Tata Steel Masters tournament and then became the 2017 U.S. Champion beating Alexander Onischuk in a playoff match.

In Just 2019, Wesley became the first official Fischer Random World Champion after defeating Magnus Carlsen with a shocking score of 13.5-2.5.

Winning behind So were GM Xiong (8.5/11 for $25,000), GM Robson (7.5/11 – $16,000), GM Dominguez (6.0/11 – $13,000). GMs Shankland and Liang tied at the 5th and 6th place (5.5/11 and each went home with $10,000), Nakamura and Sevian tied at 7th place (5.0/11 – $7,500), Lenderman was alone at the ninth place (4.5/11 – $6,500), Swiercz at 10th place (3.5/11 – $5,500 and Ramirez and Moradiabadi shared the 11th place finishing 3.0/11 and pocketed $4,250. RCM