Philippine-born Grandmaster Wesley So snapped out of his two-game losing skid in the penultimate round of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals on Monday (October 4, Manila time) but it was not enough to quell Teimour Radjabov from barging into the top two.
Reeling from a crushing loss to Levon Aronian in the previous round, So regained his footing with a victory over the upset-conscious Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the tiebreaks.
The much-needed win gave So two points to increase his total to 23.5. However, he slid down to third place as the streaking Radjabov snatched second spot in the leaderboards.
Radjabov sustained momentum from his dominant win over world champion Magnus Carlsen after defeating countryman Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with a 2.5-0.5. The Azerbaijani's total of 24 points now leads So by half a point.
Meanwhile, Carlsen suffered another uncharacteristic defeat in the eight round as the newly-crowned overall champion absorbed a 3-1 trashing from Levon Aronian.
Other results of round eight saw Hikaru Nakamura beat Vladislav Artemiev via blitz tiebreak while Anish Giri dispatched Maxime Vachier-Lagrave with a 2.5-1.5 result.
Here is the standings after the penultimate round of the tournament: Magnus Carlsen with 28.5; Radjabov with 24; So with 23.5; Aronian with 21; Nakamura with 18; Giri with 14.5; Artemiev with 14.5; Vachier-Lagrave with 13.5; Duda with 12; and Mamedyarov with 9.5.
The Tour Finals will swing into its last round on Tuesday (October 5, Manila time) with the following pairings: Duda-Nakamura, Artemiev-Giri, Vachier-Lagrave-Radjabov, Mamedyarov-Aronian, and the much-anticipated Carlsen-So.
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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