So Continues Strongly At Your Next Move In Leuven
Wesley So looking at his compatriots Nakamura and Caruana. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

So Continues Strongly At Your Next Move In Leuven

14 | Chess Event Coverage

Again scoring two wins and one draw, Wesley So continued doing very well on day two of the Your Next Move rapid tournament in Leuven, Belgium. Levon Aronian is his closest rival with three rounds to go.

So's victory in the Norway Chess blitz opener was not a coincidence. After a disappointing 2017 and early 2018, the American GM seems fully back on track, at least as far as speed chess is concerned. With an undefeated 5.0/6 (or rather 10.0/6 with the double score system in Leuven), his first two days could hardly have gone better.

First, he brought down Anish Giri with a petite combinaison in an English middlegame. Eventually it was just a pawn, but at this level that's more or less a technical win, and it was finished off with good technique.


Wesley So Leuven 2018

So has played supremely well so far. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

So won his next game as well, as Black against Alexander Grischuk. It was a crystal-clear game where only a doubled pawn in White's camp ended up being the decisive factor in a pawn ending followed by a queen endgame. 

Grischuk vs So Leuven 2018

More than half of the game consisted of the pawn endgame and queen endgame that followed. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

In round six, So drew a solid game with runner-up Aronian to maintain his two-point lead. One point behind Aronian are Sergey Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave going into the final day of rapid chess.

He won three tournaments already this year, but Fabiano Caruana will not win in Leuven. He's still in last place with just three points, as a good win in round four against Hikaru Nakamura was followed by two losses.

Aronian drew twice, and won his black game against Giri. Somehow this 5.Re1 Berlin got much more interesting than usual, with Giri ending up with a slightly weaker king after all the minor pieces had left the board. It was still equal, but not when the Dutchman chose the wrong square for his king.

Levon Aronian Leuven 2018

Aronian is in second place after day two. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Mamedyarov missed a Rxh7 combination the other day, but today he got a second chance. As Black, Rxh2 was an easy mate-in-three against Caruana, who had been winning before:

Mamedyarov Leuven

Mamedyarov didn't miss the rook sac this time. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had started with five draws in a row, but then he won his first game. As one of the last principled players who still fights the Berlin in the endgame, he got quite far against Anand but the rook endgame with an extra pawn should have been a draw. After a long game, the Indian GM erred fatally:

Vachier-Lagrave Leuven

An undefeated plus-one score for MVL. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Alexander Grischuk is playing his first event since the Candidates' and hasn't found his best form yet. He played a drawish line against Nakamura's Berlin but got into trouble anyway. Grischuk seemed to be holding a difficult rook endgame until he chose the wrong plan:

To finish the report, here's another endgame tragicomedy. In Norway it was suggested last week that the game between Mamedyarov and Karjakin might have been pre-arranged. As if to leave no doubt, today they played the longest game so far, however with the same result after Mamedyarov had been completely, totally and utterly winning. As in: mate in 18! 

Karjakin Leuven

Another Minister of Defense accomplishment for Karjakin. How did he not lose that game? | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Leuven Grand Chess Tour standings

Games via TWIC.

Earlier posts:

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