So tops 'clutch; tourney

June 01, 2020

Grandmaster Wesley So struck agian, this time winning  the inaugural Clutch Chess Champions Showdown on Saturday (Manila time) to pocket  $40,000 (P2.01 million) along the way.

According to the US Chess Champs website, the Philippines-born So ended up in a 9-9 stalemate with world no. 2 GM Fabiano Caruana in the final match, but So finished first after gaining the tiebreaker.

“Today was up and down but I am so relieved on the final outcome, as in a two-game blitz match anything can happen. I’ve had the opportunity to play some of the strongest players, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, in this new tournament,” So said.

The Cavite native turned US resident finished the first day of the semifinals trailing Nakamura by a point. He took his revenge on Day 2, winning rounds 7, 8 and 9 and eventually the match.

The final between So and Caruana was a back-and-forth affair, the website reported, with So winning a crucial victory early on.

Clutch Chess is a new online tournament created “to make a multigame match more dynamic by awarding two points for wins achieved at the halfway point and three points for wins at the end,” according to local media St. Louis Public Radio in Missouri.

This was meant to break tradition, the public radio station said, which sees a single chess game awarding one point to the winner, zero to the loser and a half-point for a draw.

“This means that a match would effectively be over by the time one player won more than 50% of the games,” it added, as Clutch Chess will be played in a rapid format, with many games finishing in less than 30 minutes.