Wesley So stays joint 1st in US Chess. Akobian Wins To Become So’s Newest Co-Leader. Upsets galore at this year’s championship.

Chess prodigy leads.2017 US Chess Champs Logo

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Wesley So, the prodigal son of the Philippines has come a long way since he first shone at a very young age. The former Junior champion of the Philippines continues to make waves at the highest level in World Chess.

In the US Chess championship that is currently underway, he is able to hold his own and remain in the top spot. The championship venue is Chess Club Scholastic Center of St. Louis, Missouri.

Even being the joint leader in such a top ranking tournament is a matter of credit. So, who is performing consistently in recent match appearances, drew his seventh round match.

He settled for a draw against Ray Robson; with this draw, he still remains the joint leader. However, this did not dent his career unbeaten streak which stands at 63.

As things stand, Wesley So is the joint leader with 4.5 points after 7 rounds of the US championships 2017. He has an FIDE rating of 2822 and shares the lead with Yaroslav Zherebukh of Ukraine.

The Ukranian-American Chess prodigy came to the limelight since he was a member of the Under-16 Ukrainian Team that won Chess Youth Olympiad in Turkey in the year 2006. This position emerged after So drew his match against Ray Robson and Yaroslav Zherebukh emerged victorious against Fabiano Caruana.

Most of our Filipino readers are aware of the exploits of this compatriot of theirs who hails from Cavite. This player has emerged as a classy player and had to move to Minnesota in the United States and now represents the United States.

The Filipino Chess prodigy broke the record for the youngest player to reach the ELO rating of 2600 in October 2008.

His 4.5 points come from two wins and 5 draws and shares the top spot in the tourney that awards $50, 000 to the winner.


In round 8 on Thursday, Wesley So still maintained his leadership spot; there are 12 contestants in the field. His 8th round draw was with

There have been quite a few upheavals in the players’ fortunes with players dishing out contrasting results when you expect consistency. One moment they seem unbeatable and in top form, only to take a tumble at the next contest.

That has been the trend at the 2017 United States Chess Championship. Round 8 was also the one that saw the stated upheavals.

The first concerned Grand Master Yaroslav Zherebukh, who was fresh from an astounding win in the previous round. He lost in a humiliating fashion to Grand Master Fabiano Caruana to lose his leadership position.

The two crucial games utilized the French Defense; the results went either way. A French player Grand Master Varuzhan Akobian, notched up a fine win playing Black and is the now the co-leader with Grand Master Wesley So.

Hence, Akobian was the only player to have some semblance of consistency in the championships. However, he too bit the dust in one encounter during this event.

The onsite expert, Ben Finegold hit the nail on the head when he stated that he was not sure who would win. However, he did praise Akobian’s relatively consistent play.

Moreover, despite Zherebukh’s loss, Wesley So failed to utilize this opportunity to consolidate. The top seed just went in for a tame draw with Grand Master Hikaru Nakamura. Though, I wouldn’t blame him; Nakamura comes with the reputation of being four time U.S champion.

Nakamura did not really get going in the 2017 edition; he has drawn seven straight games this year. This is a far cry from his victories in the previous three appearances in the U.S. championships.

He scored at least five victories in each of the previous three championships. But, in the 2017 version, Nakamura has a lone win to show.

Caruana got the better of Daniel Naroditsky who could not handle the French opening that he chose. Moreover, he chose the French defense since he had lost his earlier match playing Spanish with black pieces. And, Caruana expected him to do exactly that.

Believe me, he is just a half point away and waiting to pounce due to the chaotic trend.

A word about Akobian; he employed the French defense to a perfection.

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Saturday, April 08, 2017