Wesley So triumphed in the Chessable Masters final today to seal an unprecedented hat-trick of Meltwater Champions Chess Tour titles.
The reigning US Champ dominated the first day of the final against Liem Quang Le then held off a spirited challenge in the second.
The scores finished 2-2 as So secured the draw he needed to take the tournament’s $30,000 top prize.
It puts So just 34 points behind World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the overall Tour standings with just one tournament to go before the finals event.
So said he hoped his win would mean Carlsen – who did not play in this event – would “have to show up”. The Norwegian has already indicated that showdown will happen.
So’s win was crushing – but it wasn’t plain-sailing straight away. Liem came out swinging in the final’s second match after being disappointed by his performance yesterday.
The Vietnamese star, who shocked the field by just making the final, raced into a lead by winning the opener with a devastating rook attack.
It was just the start Liem needed. But So, the World Fischer Random king, drew the second and then hit back in the third. A draw in the final game of the day sealed it.
In truth, the American star, who has emerged as Carlsen’s biggest threat on the Tour so far, was streets ahead.
The unconventional Liem battled hard and was dangerous to the last, but So’s experience in Tour rapid events eventually told.
So, the 27-year-old, from Minnetonka in Minnisota, was just too strong. He has now reached four finals in total and is the only player on the Tour to have reached the knockout stage in every event.
In the third-place play-off match, the Russian Vladislav Artemiev emerged victorious with a clean 2.5-0.5 win over the Goldmoney Asian Rapid winner Levon Aronian.
The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour returns on August 28 with Carlsen expected to play in leg 9.