The title bid of Philippine-born Wesley So in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals has come to an end on Sunday (October 3, Manila time).
The Filipino-American grandmaster could not avert a decisive collapse in the seventh round after falling at the hands of Levon Aronian, who pulled off a dominant 2.5-0.5 victory.
With only two rounds remaining in the tournament and a maximum of six points left, So, who holds 21.5 points and trails behind world champion Magnus Carlsen (28.5 points) by seven, bade his championship hopes farewell.
"Things haven't been going well from the beginning. I played some good matches early on, but somehow I never felt the stability that I need. It's just one of those days," lamented So, the 27-year-old pride of Cavite.
Carlsen was crowned the overall champion of the tournament on the same day he sustained an uncharacteristic loss to Teimour Radjabov.
Radjabov carved out a 3-1 result at the expense of the fancied Norwegian, who was quick to shrug off the defeat with the prestigious title already secured in his hands.
"Right now I'm just happy to win overall," Carlsen beamed.
Making matters worse for So, Radjabov, who has been picking up steam in the second half of the Tour Finals, wound up with 21 points at the end of round seven to knock within half-a-point behind the reigning United States champion.
Other results in the seventh round saw Hikaru Nakamura edged Maxime Vachier-Lagrave via Armageddon; Jan-Krzysztof Duda prevailed over Vladislav Artemiev with a 2.5-1.5 win; and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov asserted dominance over Anish Giri with a 2.5-0.5 outcome.
Here are the rest of the standings after round seven: Aronian with 18; Nakamura with 16; Artemiev with 13.5; Vachier-Lagrave with 13.5; Giri with 11.5; Duda with 11; and Mamedyarov with 9.5.
The tournament will resume on Monday (October 5, Manila time) with the penultimate round that will feature the following pairings: So-Duda, Radjabov-Mamedyarov, Giri-Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura-Artemiev, and Aronian-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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