Philippine-born Grandmaster Wesley So yielded to world champion Magnus Carlsen in the ninth round to wrap up his Meltwater Champions Chess Tour campaign at fourth place on Tuesday (October 5, Manila time).
In the much-anticipated clash between two of the giants in chess, Carlsen, the recently-crowned overall champion, subdued the Filipino-American Grandmaster with an emphatic 2.5-0.5 win.
The campaign-ending loss prevented So from increasing his 23.5-point total, dropping him down to fourth place in the standings where Carlsen perched atop with his 31.5 points.
Despite the deflating conclusion, So feels grateful to have finished the tournament.
"Well, I think everything went well, except the last tournament. I'm glad to finish it," expressed the 27-year-old pride of Cavite, who stood at second place for seven rounds before collapsing in the last two.
He then chimed in, "I think, considering what happened, fourth place is a great finish for me."
In the buildup to the Finals, So participated in nine other chess tournaments, which resulted to three titles in the Skilling Open, the Euro Opera Rapid and the Chessable Masters, as well as a runner-up finish in the FTX Crypto Cup.
Looking back at his campaign, So could not help but give himself a pat on the back.
"Well, I won three regular tournaments. Also, I think I played very well in the Crypto Cup, almost won that as well. So, I've been working really hard playing every single tournament," he shared.
"I played ninety days for the entire tour and I think it paid off in the end with the fourth-place finish."
Meanwhile, Teimour Radjabov closed out his bid at second place (27 points) with a rousing 2.5-0.5 win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the final round, where Levon Aronian vaulted over So to secure the third spot (24 points) with a crucial 2.5-0.5 beatdown on Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Other results in the last day of the tournament saw Hikaru Nakamura subdue Jan-Krzysztof Duda with a 3-1 result and Vladislav Artemiev beat Anish Giri, 2.5-1.5.
Here is the rest of the final standings: Nakamura with 21 at fifth place; Artemiev with 17.5 at sixth; Giri with 14.5 at seventh; Vachier-Lagrave with 13.5 at eight; Duda with 12 at ninth; and Mamedyarov with 9.5 at the bottom of the pack.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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