So nears title, breaks 2700 Elo barrier

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11:47 PM February 27th, 2013

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February 27th, 2013 11:47 PM

Individual standings after Round 9:

7.5 points—GM Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), GM Wesley So (Philippines); 7.0 points—GM Grzegorz Gajewski (Poland), GM Anish Giri (The Netherlands), GM Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria), IM Wei Yi (China), GM Gawain Jones (England), GM Bassem Amin (Egypt)

FILIPINO Grandmaster Wesley So downed GM Marcin Dziuba of Poland in the ninth round Wednesday to share the lead with GM Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine in the 28th Reykjavik Open chess championships in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Handling white, So sacrificed his queen for a rook and bishop to launch an attack and eventually won by checkmate after 41 moves of a Caro-Kann Defense, raising his total to 7.5 points.

Eljanov (Elo 2678) kept pace with So by trouncing Chinese GM Ding Liren (Elo 2709), turning their 10th round duel Thursday into a winner-take-all affair.

The win over Dziuba, according to National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., enabled So to finally break the 2700 Elo barrier.

“Wesley’s current live rating is 2701.4 after the win over Dziuba,” said Pichay, who watched the game live through Internet.

So’s performance rating going to the 10th and final round is 2768. “Let’s hope Wesley wins over GM (Pavel) Eljanov for him to get his first major title this year.”

Eljanov also posted a brilliant victory over Ding as both players decided to expand their pawns on the flanks, leaving their kings uncastled.

The Ukrainian was the first one to break in the center with a knight sacrifice for two pawns, eventually forcing Ding to resign on the 22nd move when black is about to create a super strong passed pawn on the queenside.

Eljanov will handle white against So as they dispute the top prize of 5,000 euros.

Bunched at 7.0 points were GM Grzegorz Gajewski of Poland, GM Anish Giri of The Netherlands, GM Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria, IM Wei Yi of China, GM Gawain Jones of England and GM Bassem Amin of Egypt.

Gajewski split the point with Wei after 33 moves of a Neo-Gruenfeld Defense; Giri toppled compatriot GM Erwin L’ami after 40 moves of the Slav Defense; Cheparinov routed GM Mustafa Yilmaz of Turkey after 41 moves of another Slav; Jones subdued GM Nils Grandelius of Sweden after 51 moves of an English Opening; and Amin stunned GM David Navara of Czech Republic after 38 moves of a Bogo-Indian Defense.

The tournament serves as So’s buildup for the 2013 World Chess Cup scheduled on Aug. 10 to Sept. 5 in Tromso, Norway, where he will be joined by countryman GM Oliver Barbosa.

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