So bags first-ever PH gold in Universiade
Grandmaster Wesley So landed the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in the Universiade by ruling the men’s chess competition in the Games’ 27th edition in Kazan, Russia, Monday night (Tuesday in Manila).
The 19-year-old So beat 2006 world junior champion GM Zaven Andriasian of Armenia in their Armageddon (Blitz) playoff match and stretched his unbeaten run to 63 games in tournament play.
Earlier, So—who attained Hydra GM status (Elo rating of 2700-up) in February after ruling the Reykjavik Open—and Andriasian battled to a draw in the ninth and final round to share top spot with seven others at 6.5 points.
Tied with them were Chinese GMs Li Chao, Ma Qun and Zhou Juanchao; Russian GMs Maxim Matlakov, Evgeny Alekseev and Sanan Sugirov, and Polish GM Jacek Tomczak.
After three tiebreaks, So and Andriasian emerged still tied, forcing the five-minute playoff.
Andriasian won the coin toss and opted to play white against So, who also topped the Calgary Open in May and swept the Las Vegas International Chess Festival last month.
The 24-year-old Andrisian (Elo 2620) bore the brunt of So’s solid kingside attack in the blitz tiebreaker and was facing mate in one in the 51st move when he resigned.
Li, the 2011 Shenzhen Universiade champion, settled for third.
“I really did my best, especially in the Armageddon game, to win the gold medal for our country,” said So, a finance business freshman at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. “It was not easy because there were many good players here.”
Overall, the third-seeded So posted four wins and five draws for a live Elo rating of 2710 and a rating performance of 2714.
So, along with GMs Oliver Barbosa and Mark Paragua, will represent the country in the 2013 World Cup slated Aug. 10 to Sept. 5 in Tromso, Norway.
So’s victory finally put the country in the medal table of the 162-nation Games for students. Host Russia led the tally with 127 gold medals followed by China with 23, Japan (21), South Korea (15), Ukraine (11), Belarus (11) and the United States (9).
The Philippines lay in 40th place.
In women’s play, Mary Israel Palero of Davao drew with WFM Monica Motycakva of Slovakia to finish with 3.5 points, good for a share of 52nd to 61st places.
GM Zhao Xue finished with 7.5 points to power China to a 1-2-3 finish. Roy Luarca
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