By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Grandmaster Wesley So drew with France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the eighth and penultimate round of the Sinquefield Cup and virtually clinched the overall Grand Chess Tour (GCT) title Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
So battled Vachier-Lagrave in a Ruy Lopez duel and agreed to a draw after 50 moves to keep him in a three-way tie for No. 2 with fellow Americans Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez Perez with 5 points.
Regardless of the result of his final game against Dominguez Perez, So is already assured of the overall Tour crown and the $100,000 cash bonus.
It will be the second GCT crown for So after ruling the annual tournament’s second edition five years ago, tying Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world classical king who won it in 2015 and 2017, for the most number of titles.
So piled up large number of points after finishing third in the Superbet Chess Classic in Bucharest Romania in June, first in the Paris Rapid & Blitz in France the same month and third in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz over a week ago.
Meanwhile, Vachier-Lagrave remained at the helm of the Sinquefield tourney with 5.5 points going to his final-round match against Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Hungarian Richard Rapport is running fifth with 4 points, followed by Mamedyarov and Americans Jeffrey Xiong and Sam Shankland with 3.5 points.
Russia’s Peter Svidler is at ninth with 3 points while United States’s Dariusz Swiercz is last with 2 points.