Philippine-born Grandmaster Wesley So prevailed in a three-man playoff tiebreak matches to become the 2021 US Chess Champion on Wednesday in Cherry Hills, New Jersey.
The world no. 8 So promoted a white queen in the endgame to beat Sam Sevian in just 33 moves of a Modern Defense Opening in the third tiebreak game.
The 2772 FIDE-rated So was tied in first place at 6.5 with fellow GMs Fabiano Caruana and Sam Sevian after 11 rounds of play.
And they needed to play a rapid playoff to determine the winner, with So winning the first playoffs with Caruana in 46 moves of an English Opening.
Caruana then bounced back in the second tiebreak by stopping Sevian in 49 moves of a King’s Pawn Game.
The 28-year-old So, who was born and raised in Bacoor, Cavite, took control of the queenside when he gobbled up a pawn to promote his white passed pawn into a queen and claim a check one move later.
So, who became a US citizen last March, took home the cash purse of $50,000 for first place, while Caruana and Sevian both earned $30,000.
In women’s play, 18-year-old Carissa Yip tallied 8.5 points in 11 games to win the women’s title a month after her birthday.
The Boston-based Yip, who is now the highest-rated under-20 women’s player in the world, ended her campaign with a 52-move draw with Katerina Nemcova.
It was So’s second major win this year.
On February 14, So defeated the world champion Magnus Carlsen to win the Opera Euro Rapid.