Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So outmaneuvered Hungarian GM Richard Rapport Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila) to launch his bid in the super-tough Category A of the 76th Tata Steel Tournament Masters in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.
So, the 20-year-old finance business sophomore at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, won with the black pieces in 56 moves of the Larsen Opening after Rapport (Elo 2691) resigned with a critical material disadvantage.
When the Hungarian surrendered, the top Filipino GM (Elo 2728) had two pawns, a queen and a bishop as against Rapport’s four pawns and queen.
So, the world’s 24th-ranked player with five international victories under his belt last year, had sewn up a ploy that would force an exchange of queens in a couple of endgame moves.
Other first-round winners in the round-robin Category A competition included second seed American GM Hiraku Nakamura, third seed GM Fabiano Caruana of Italy, and fifth-ranked GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia.
Nakamura (Elo 2786) outlasted German GM Arkadij Naiditsch (Elo 2737) in 65 moves of Nimzo-Indian defense, Caruana (Elo 2782) overwhelmed fourth seed Israeli GM Boris Gelfand (Elo 2777) in 30 moves of a Sicilian Najdorf Variation, and Karjakin (Elo 2756) bested Dutch GM Loek Van Wely (Elo 2678) in 60 moves of a Catalan Opening.
Top seed GM Levon Aronian of Armenia (Elo 2803) drew with Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna (Elo 2708) in 30 moves of a Giuco Piano Opening while sixth-ranked Dutch GM Anish Giri (Elo 2737) split the point with Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez (Elo 2754) in 31 moves of a Ruy Lopez Berlin skimirsh.
So, the Category C winner of the same tournament three years ago and third runner-up in Category B last year, next faces Nakamura in the second round.
The Tata Steel Chess has two main tourneys—Grandmaster group A with 12 players and Grandmaster group B with 14.