Wesley So bows to Mamedyarov, but still in contention

FOR THE first time in five rounds, Wesley So conceded a loss at the hands of Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in their Armageddon play in the Norway Chess in Stavanger on Monday.

Good thing, the Cavite-born, two-time United States titlist is still pretty much in the title hunt in spite of the heartbreaking result.

Mr. So succumbed to Mr. Mamedyarov in their tie-breaker game after a misstep in his attempt to gain an attack and the initiative led to the latter launching a vicious kingside attack instead.

When it was over, Mr. Mamedyarov was winning in all angles — position, material and time — before Mr. So resigned after 39 moves of their English encounter.

The loss, though, kept Mr. So in striking distance with solo leader Vishwanathan Anand of India and reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen as the former shares third with 8.5 points each.

Mr. Anand, a five-time world titlist, regained the No. 1 spot after slaying Mr. Carlsen in Armageddon to hike his output to 10 points, or half a point atop the latter with 9.5 points.

But there is still hope for Mr. So though as he still has games against players who are in the lower half of this 10-player field — Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, Aryan Tari of Norway, Wang Hao of China, and former No. 1 Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.

Also, the tournament uses a novel scoring format where a win in standard is equivalent to three points while a victory and a defeat in Armageddon is worth 1.5 points and a point, respectively, which gives everyone including Mr. So a chance to storm back. — Joey Villar