So hangs tough as US sweeps matches

August 24, 2020

SUPER GM Wesley So played just hard enough but the United States swept its three assignments on the second day of competitions and maintained the lead in the FIDE Online Olympiad 2020 early Sunday.

So  seeded only 14th overall in the tournament with an ELO of 2741, outwitted GM Yasser Quesada Perez  to lead the United States to a 4.5-1.5 win over Cuba in the fifth round

The 27-year-old So halved the point with GM Alexandr Fier in the US' 5-1 triumph over Brazil in the fourth round; and drew with GM Alan Pichot in their 5-1 victory over Argentina in the sixth round.

Overall,  the United States now has a perfect score of six wins in six matches and 12 match points, three points ahead of Greece with only three rounds left.

Defending champion China and top favorite Russia are the only other countries with perfect 6-0-0 win-draw-loss records in this unique  competition which serves as FIDE'S response to the postponement of the regular Olympiad due to the coronavirus pandemic.

China, bannered by GM Ding Liren and four-time women's world champion GM Hou Yifan,  has six wins and 12 points in Group A..

India, led by former world champion Vuswanathan Anand, is a close second with five wins and draw for 11 points, while Gernany is third with 4-1-1 and nine points.

The Philippines' main rivals in Southeast Asia,  Indonesia and Vietnam, have five and four points, respectively.

In Group C,  Russia leads the way with six wins and 12 points.

The GM Alexander Grischuk and GM  Kateryna Lagno-led Russians have a two-point lead over Armenia and  four-point advantage over Romania and England.

A five-way battle looms in Group B with Hungary (10 poibts),  Ukraine (9), Kazakhstan (9),  Spain (9) and Azerbaijan (8) in the thick of the fight.

The Bacoor, Cavite-born So is playing in his third Olympiad for the United States after 2016 Baku, where he played on board three  and 2018 Batumi, where he handled board two.

With GMs Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura opting out,  So is now playing the top board for the third-seeded American team.

In all,  this is So's seventh Olympiad.

So played for the Philippines in four straight Olympiads in 2006 (Turin), 2008 (Dresden), 2010 (Khanty-Mansiysk) and 2012 (Istambul) before his transfer to the US in 2014.

He sat out the 2014 Tromso Olympiad while completing his transfer requirements, but served as coach of the US.