GRANDMASTER Wesley So, playing the white pieces, removed a threatening passed pawn on the 35th move and forced a draw with French GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave Sunday to formally claim the 2016 London Chess Classic title.
Lagrave could no longer threaten So’s active king at queenside when action ended after nine rounds at the Olympia Conference Centre in West Kensington.
Both were left with two pawns and neither had an advantage at endgame, allowing the former Filipino chesser, who is now representing the United States, to finish with six points and earn the $75,000 top purse.
GM Fabiano Caruana halved the point with GM Anish Giri in 54 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted as he settled for the $50,000 second prize pot after he tallied 5.5 points in second place.
GM Vladimir Kramnik also played a drawish match with Indian GM Viswanathan Anand in 24 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Kramnik and Anand settled for a three-way tie from third to fifth with 5 points with Hikaru Nakamura.
Kramnik went on to claim the $40,000 purse at third place.
Overall, the 23-year-old So finished with a total of 36 points as he also formally clinched the overall crown (worth $100,000) in the four-leg Grand Chess Tour.
The win gave him a total purse of $295,000, with Nakamura behind with 24.5 points and a total cash bonanza of $144,166.
Caruana emerged third overall with 23.75 points and $108,750 in earnings.
“This is definitely my best achievement ever,” said So in an interview with Chess.com.
In the live chess ratings of 2700chess.com, So climbed to no. 4 after beating FIDE’s no. 19, Englishman Mickey Adams in Round 2. 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).
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