By U.S. News Agency / Asian

GM Wesley So of the Philippines settled for his second fighting draw, this time against GM Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia in the second round of the 73rd Tata Steel-Corus Group B Chess championships at the De Moriaan Community Center here Sunday.

So, who is hoping to surpass his fourth-place finish in the same group last year, agreed to split the point with the lower-rated but more experienced Sargissian (ELO 2667) by repetition of moves after 26 moves of the Scotch game.

The draw was reached after a lively and interesting skirmish in the center that culminated with the exchange of the queens on the 15th move.

Both So, who played white, and Sargissian had two rooks, light-colored bishop, knight and six pawns when the 17-year-old Filipino champion obliged to a draw
by repeating his Be4 three times.

So, who is making his third straight appearance in this prestigious Category 17 tournament sponsored by Indian steel giant Tata this year, debuted with a similar fighting draw against Southeast Asian rival GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam last Saturday.

On Monday, So will play black again when he takes on GM Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway in the third round.

Hammer, seeded No. 11 in the 14-player field, dropped his first two matches against GM Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine in the first round and GM Surya Ganguly of India the following round.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay said So has a very good chance of beating Hammer despite handling the black pieces for the second time in three rounds.

“The two fighting draws against Le and Sargissian should give Wesley enough motivation in the coming rounds. I expect him to go for the win against Hammer,” said Pichay, who is following the game live on chessdom.com.

GM Luke McShane of England outwitted GM Li Chao of China in 55 moves of the King’s Indian to grab the solo lead with perfect score of two points.

McShane, the 27-year-old Englishman ranked No. 78 in the world, won over GM Wouter Spoelman of the Netherlands in the first round.

Efimenko, Sargissian and GM David Navara of the Czech Republic share second to fourth places with 1.5 points apiece.

Efimenko drew with GM Laurent Fressinet of France, while Navara halved the point with Le.