So Surges To Win vs Mamedyarov: Speed Chess Championship
Mamedyarov's enterprising style kept the match close, but a late surge in the 3|1 portion was enough for Wesley So to advance to the quarterfinals.

So Surges To Win vs Mamedyarov: Speed Chess Championship

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Wesley So showed that he was a force to be reckoned with this Speed Chess Championship by eliminating Azeri grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The match went just as Hikaru Nakamura predicted in his post-match interview on Tuesday.

Mamedyarov kept the match close, but So was resilient and built an advantage late in the blitz portion, leading to an 18-12 match win.

So, a finalist in last year's Speed Chess Championship, advances to the second round where he will face the French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who beat Wei Yi in his first-round clash last month.

So Mamedyarov SmarterChess Predictions
SmarterChess nearly predicted the final score, only a point off of Wesley's final tally.

The American started the match with a 2-0 lead, but Mamedyarov seemed unfazed, opening his third game with 8. h4 and 9. g4. The Azeri only needed 24 moves to secure his first win of the match.

While the two players traded results early, So was proving himself a better manager of the clock. The American built his second two-point lead of the game when he pushed Mamedyarov into time trouble from an equal position.

So closed out the 5|1 segment with a win, taking a 6-4 lead into the 3|1 portion of the match. In the segment's final game, the American trapped Mamedyarov's queen in the center of the board.

5|1 section | Scores

Name Username Rating Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
Wesley So GMWSO 3103 3013 1 1 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0 1 6
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AzeriChess 2941 3031 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 1 0 4

As he did in his 2018 Speed Chess Championship debut against Anish Giri, Mamedyarov opted for the offbeat 1. a3. So, wanting to keep things interesting, responded with the equally humous 1...g6 to put the ball back in Mamedyarov's court.

The game ended in a draw after an opposite-colored-bishop endgame was reached.

Mamedyarov would play and draw with 1. a3 again, but with So neutralizing his games with White, he had to focus on holding games with Black. While the Azeri player was defending well, his time management continued to be an issue. So started to build a late-segment surge when he managed to flag Mamedyarov in this roughly equal game:

So also won the final game of the 3|1 segment to take a four-point lead heading into the match's final half-hour. Unlike Nakamura's match with Dobrov the day before, which featured 13 games played in the 3|1 segment, the slow pace of this match meant only eight games were completed.

Wesley So Speed Chess Championship 2019

3|1 section | Scores

Name Username Rating Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
Wesley So GMWSO 3066 3064 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 5
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AzeriChess 2969 2979 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 3

So continued to build on his lead early into the bullet portion of the match. After drawing the portion's opening game, So found an incredible defensive mechanism that forced the Azeri player to resign immediately.

Just minutes later, So capitalized on a critical blunder from Mamedyarov, putting the match nearly out of reach. As IM Danny Rensch mentioned in the live broadcast, Mamedyarov's style of play would always keep the games interesting but would also come with the increased risk of erring sporadically.

Wesley used the bullet section to put the match away, building a seven-point lead before Mamedyarov won back-to-back games mid-segment. 

1|1 section | Scores

Name Username Rating Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total
Wesley So GMWSO 2857 3002 ½ 1 1 1 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 7
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AzeriChess 2945 2800 ½ 0 0 0 1 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 5

Mamedyarov earned $400 based on win percentage. So won $1,000 for the victory plus $600 on percentage, totaling $1,600. He will next face Vachier-Lagrave the Speed Chess Championship quarterfinals.

"It's been a great match, and I'd like to thank Shakh for his great sportsmanship," So said. "When I saw I was playing Shakh in the first round, I thought already I was the underdog, so I prepared seriously. I even played in the Fischer Random Arena Kings to prepare." So said.

Speed Chess Championship BracketSo will be back on for the World Fischer Random Chess Championship Quarterfinals on Friday, October 4, which will kick off at 7 am PDT.

All match games for replay and download:

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