by Marlon Bernardino
THAILAND---Filipino Grandmaster Wesley Barbasa So is the Millionaire Chess Open Champion.
He pocket the $100,000 grand prize. He won it over fellow Webster University teammate American GM Ray Robson, 1.5-0.5, in the final match and clinched the championship tiara at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday (Monday night US Time). Robson, on the other hand went home runner-up purse of $50,000.
The $1000,000 ($1-million) grand prize was the biggest ever in the history of chess tournament.
On the road to the finals, So (2755), the tournament's top seed, edged GM Zhou Jianchao (2580) of China, 2-0, in the first tiebreak consisting of two games at 15 minutes per player. Earlier, So and Zhou drew both rapid games at 25 minutes per player to force into a tiebreaker.
Robson (2628) of the USA, meantime shocked GM Yu Yangyi (2697) of China, 1.5-0.5, in their rapid semifinal knockout match and got to the final first.
The 21-year-old Bacoor, Cavite native So now has a live rating of 2762, a personal best, after gaining 7.0 rating points from 5 wins and 2 draws in the Swiss system elimination round. He surpassed former world champion GM Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who has a 2760 rating. With his magnificent performance put him top 10 in the world.
Prior Millionaire Chess Open in Las Vegas, So settled second place behind GM Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine last June in the Edmonton International tournament in Alberta, Canada. He topped the prestigious Capablanca Memorial Tournament in Havana, Cuba last May and won the ACP Golden Classic last July in Bergamo, Italy.