Philippine-born Wesley So regained his winning form after prevailing over Vladislav Artemiev in the third round of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals on Tuesday (September 28, Manila time).
Driven to bounce back from a second-round defeat to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the Filipino-American Grandmaster carved out a win and three draws against Artemiev for a hard-earned 2.5-1.5 result.
"Very glad to win today," So, the 27-year-old native of Cavite, said.
"Artemiev is a very difficult opponent. He was very resourceful and you can never understimate him, even when seconds on the clock. So, I figured today that anything can happen, but I'm very glad with the win and the three points," he added.
So tightened his hold of the second spot with 18.5 points while gaining crucial ground in his bid to catch up to world champion Magnus Carlsen, who closed the third round with 23.5.
Carlsen withstood a tough challenge from Vachier-Lagrave in a match that went into tiebreaks where the former emerged victorious following a strong finishing kick in the first blitz game and a match-clinching draw in the second.
Trailing behind the leaders in the standings is Levon Aronian. He remained in third place with 12 points, but a stinging defeat to Hikaru Nakamura in the third round blurred his chances of catching Carlsen and So.
Nakamura's win 3-1 over Aronian pushes him to fourth in the leaderboard with 10 points.
The rest of the matches in the third day of the competition went into tiebreaks.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Shakrhiyar Mamedyarov figured in two draws and a win apiece before the former clinched the first blitz then formalized the win with a draw in the second.
Another thrilling tiebreak match ensued between Teimour Radjabov and Anish Giri where the latter staged a comeback and went away with a win.
Here is the rest of the standings after the third round: Giri with 9.5; Radjabov with 9; Vachier-Lagrave with 8.5; Artemiev with 5.5; Duda with 5; and Mamedyarov with 2.5
The fourth round of the tournament shall start on Wednesday with the following pairings: Radjabov-Duda, Giri-Aronian, Nakamura-So, Vachier-Lagrave-Mamedyarov, and Artemiev-Carlsen.
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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