Sports

Wesley So takes world title in new chess play format

Filipino-American grandmaster Wesley So won the first official World Fischer Random Chess Championship, defeating reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, who is touted as one of the smartest people in the planet.

World Fischer Random Championship is a new chess format designed by American grandmaster Bobby Fischer. With chess pieces placed randomly in the opening, 960 background and different configurations were created. It encourages chess players to be creative, making memorization impossible — something classical chess players are adept to.

Its inaugural year this was sanctioned by  Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE ), hled in Carlsen’s hometown in Norway, and was aired live on Norwegian TV. So aside from the title and USD125,000 prize, So’s victory was sweet, sweeping the home-field advantage from the world’s number 1 chess player.

“I’m very happy! It’s my favorite type of chess, and it hasn’t been popular until the last couple of years. I usually win tournaments the first time and never again. Magnus had a bad couple of days if it was regular chess he would probably have beaten me easily,” So told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK.

So is representing the US as he renounced his Filipino citizenship in 2014. The Cavite-born So was the Philippine’s youngest grandmaster at age 14.

“To me, mainly chess is art – that’s why I like Fischer Random a lot, there is a lot of creativity,” So added.

The 26-year old grandmaster already had the advantage for the first two days of the three-day title series. The matches consisted of slow rapid encounters with victories worth 3 points and fast rapid games worth 2 points. So destroyed Carlsen in the slow rapid contests, 10.5-1.5, and also topped the fast rapid duels, 3.0-1.0. Thus on the  final day, So just needed to two points had to beat Carlsen on four fast rapid games and four blitz games.

“[So] played extremely quickly, again displaying his affinity for FR chess and coordinating with fluent ease. So’s smooth pressure convinced Carlsen to bail out with a repetition that So didn’t have to accept—but did.

“This result meant that Carlsen had to win all remaining fast-rapid games and then score 3.5/4 just to force armageddon. And he had to start this streak with the black pieces.

“With So in such majestic form, Carlsen was soon reduced to a desperate sacrificial attack just to breathe the vaguest hopes into the position, but the American smothered these with more of his clinical efficiency. The first FR chess world champion is crowned!,” chess.com wrote describing the last day of the finals.

Staff Report

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