It's on to the finals for Italian-American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
The world no. 2-ranked Caruana got the crucial points in his last two matches against Filipino GM Wesley So, for a 9.5 – 8.5 triumph at the close of their two-day 12-game encounter in the 2020 Clutch Chess International online tournament.
The 2835-ELO rated Caruana arranged a 12-game championship showdown with world no. 1 Magnus Carlsen, who slipped past Armenian GM Levon Aronian, 12-6.
So, currently ranked no. 8 in the world, was ahead on points, 6-2, at the end of the first day.
But the 26-year-old So saw his lead slip away following losses in Game 7 and 8, when Caruana first took a 53-move triumph, followed by a 41-move win in their Queen’s Pawn Game.
So hung on to the lead for the last time in Game 8 following a 57-move beating of Caruana.
After that, Caruana moved away in Game 10 with a 25-move victory over So in their Caro Kann Defense Game, earning three points in their first of two clutch matches in Game 11 in 80 moves.
Then, they ended Game 12 with a draw in 28 moves.
“Doesn’t matter if I lose by 1 point or 8 points,” said Caruana at the end of their two-day encounter.
In Game 11, So was actually ahead when Caruana misplayed his positional edge during a time scramble. But So committed a costly mistake on the 73rd move, when he lost a passed pawn and resigned a few moves later.
“Fabiano today and yesterday were not comparable,” said So, whose final earnings, including bonuses, totalled to $37,000.
Meanwhile, Carlsen snatched a four-point lead in the last six rounds off two victories and four draws.
Carlsen and Caruana will now have a 12-game clash similar to their 2018 World Championship encounter.
Carlsen pocketed $10,000 for his clutch victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals, while Caruana claimed $6,000.
The two will fight it out for an additional $115,000 in prizes, including $30,000 in clutch bonuses.