Philippine-born Grandmaster Wesley So suffered a critical blow in the sixth round of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals on Saturday (October 2, Manila time).
The Filipino-American Grandmaster, who was coming off a win over Anish Giri, could not sustain winning momentum as he faltered over Azerbaijani Teimour Radjabov with a staggering 1-3 result.
"I just lost badly," So admitted. "Well, it's very hard to cope after a loss but it's fine, it's life."
The loss stopped So from gaining ground in the standings as he went scoreless in the sixth round. He remains seated at second place with a stagnant 21.5 points.
Making matters worse for the 27-year-old Cavite native, world champion Magnus Carlsen padded his lead further after earning two points in a win over Giri via blitz.
The fancied Norwegian now has 28.5 points and a commanding seven-point cushion over So, with three rounds left in the tournament.
"Things haven't really been going my way," lamented So, who still remains upbeat of his chances even in the face of Carlsen's comfortable lead. "I just got to remain sharp, got to play better chess and make fewer mistakes here and there."
He then chimed in, "I guess someone got to beat Magnus in order to catch him... I guess Magnus has to lose a match or two in order for anyone to have chances."
Jan-Krzysztof Duda pulled off a convincing 2.5-1.5 win over Levon Aronian, who dropped to fourth place with 15 points, allowing Radjabov to rise to solo third with 18 points.
For his part, Hikaru Nakamura preserved his fifth spot (14 points) in the race for placings after defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov via Armageddon while Vladislav Artemiev strengthened his hold of sixth place (13.5 points) with a blitz win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
Here is the rest of the standings after round six: Vachier-Lagrave with 12.5 at seventh place; Giri with 11.5 at eight; Duda with 8 at ninth; and Mamedyarov with 6.5 at the bottom of the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, during the tour's match intermission, Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao lasted 41 moves against a 10-year-old version of the world chess champion via the Play Magnus app in the Magnus Carlsen Celebrity Charity Challenge.
It was the second-longest match in Carlsen's celebrity challenge. Pacquiao fared better than seven other participants but none of the nine challengers have beaten the app thus far.
Manny Pacquiao Foundation will receive $5,000 for the boxing legend's participation in the charity chess challenge.
I have a simple rule in life, if you are to fight the champ in anything - do it virtually😉 https://t.co/4JzySZgpUW
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) September 30, 2021
The tournament will resume action on Sunday (October 3, Manila time) with the seventh round that will feature the following pairings: Duda-Artemiev, Vachier-Lagrave-Nakamura, Mamedyarov-Giri, Carlsen-Radjabov, and So-Aronian.
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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