This is So’s second straight championship, and third time to win the title.
Chess grandmaster (GM) Wesley So continues to conquer the world of chess after an exceptional comeback en route to winning the 2021 US Chess Championship at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri, US on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old So, who switched federations to the United States in 2014, toppled two other grandmasters in GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Sam Sevian in swift competition. The three were tied with 6.5 points apiece after 11 rounds of competition, which triggered the playoff for the title.
Against the American-Italian Caruana, So won in 46 moves after compelling the top-seeder to commit slip-ups that eventually ate up his time. Afterward, So beat the 20-year-old Sevian in 33 movies to prevail over the 12-player field and take home the crown.
So took home the grand prize of $50,000, while Caruana and Sevian both pocketed $30,000 after sharing the second place.
Watch the entire coverage of the playoffs here:
“I just wanted to play fast today and make some good moves,” So said during the post-contest interview. “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.”
“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 added.
So was also surprised that he was able to outplay the competition following his defeat against Daniel Naroditsky in the ninth round the day prior.
“I thought the tournament was pretty much over by yesterday, Fabiano almost won three games in a row. It just gave me a new breath of life that the tournament was not yet over, that I might still have some chances,” So told chess.com.
With his back-to-back US Chess Championships victory, So has successfully captured the title thrice, the first being in 2017. This is also the first time since Gata Kamsky in 2014 that a player had managed to defend the US Championship title.
So plans to take a break from competition following a fruitful year that saw him win the overall championship of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour as well as the Opera Euro Rapid, defeating world champion Magnus Carlsen in the process.