WESLEY So drew with American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana in 37 moves of a Ruy Lopez Opening to zero in on the 2016 London Chess Classic title at the Olympia Conference Centre in West Kensington.
So’s game with Caruana turned into a draw after the American gave up his rook during an exchange in the center fifth rank.
With a round left in the chess tournament, the 23-year-old So, who is now an American citizen, has 5.5 points in the solo lead, while Caruana trails with 5 points. The former Filipino chesser stands to earn the top purse of $100,000 if he wins the tournament.
Levon Aronian of Armenia is no. 2 with 21.75 points, followed by Caruana with 16.75.
Meanwhile, GM Vladimir Kramnik, who also drew with So in the seventh round, shared third with Viswanathan Anand and Hikaru Nakamura with 4.5 points. This after Kramnik drew with Anish Giri in 46 moves of a Sicilian Najdorf.
So is also set to become the overall winner of the Grand Chess Tour 2016 since he has already amassed 30 points for winning the Sinquefield early this year, with earnings of $120,000 already in the bag.
“I’m very happy to win the Grand Chess Tour. This is a huge success for me. As usual, I would like to thank the Lord for letting me win such a prestigious tour,” said So in an interview which appeared in the tournament’s official website.
Experts said So played very accurately to hold back Caruana’s black pieces.
Under the FIDE rankings as of December 2016, So is close to breaking to 2800 ELO rating and is still at no. 5
In the live chess ratings of 2700chess.com, though, So appeared to have reached this milestone last Dec. 11, 2016, when he made it to no. 4 after beating FIDE’s no. 19, Englishman Mickey Adams in Round 2.
As the tournament draws to a close, So now has an unofficial ELO rating of 2807.7 at no. 4, with Carlsen in the lead with 2840, followed by Caruana (2828) and Kramnik (2811). Maxine Vachier-Lagrave has reportedly slipped to fifth with 2796.3.
A month ago, So was at no. 6, according to the FIDE list. His victory over Adams allowed him to reach the 2800 ELO rating points in the official FIDE list, where four players in the world have points beyond this mark.