WIJK AAN
ZEE, The Netherlands, Jan. 25 (PNA) — The Philippines’ GM Wesley So
continued his meteoric rise to ELO 2700 stardom by hurdling GM Wouter
Spoelman of the Netherlands for his fourth straight win and the solo
lead after the eighth round of the 73rd Tata Steel-Corus Group B Chess
championship at the De Morianne Community Center here Sunday.

Looking almost unstoppable since the rest day before the start of
the fifth round, the 17-year-old So handled the black pieces in a
Nimzo-Indian with clockwork precision and easily dispatched the
lower-rated Dutch player after only 34 moves.

The Filipino champion from Bacoor, Cavite, who is hoping to
surpass the ELO 2700 rating and barge into the elite list of the world’s
Top 50 players his year, gamely sparred with Spoelman in the early
goings before marshalling his major pieces into one solid fighting unit
headed for a successful mission.

When the smoke of battle cleared, the 21-year-old Spoelman had
to resign or give up one or even two bishops to prevent the advance of
So’s two connected queening pawns on the c and d files.

So, who started to go to the gym to improve his physical
condition for about a month now, said Spoelman’s 26.Qxd3 was a blunder
since Kg2 would had given him decent chances.

“I was really hoping to win the best game prize for this round,
especially after winning four in a row,” said So, who again wore his
favorite blue long-sleeves polo which is said to bring him luck in
major international tournaments.

The honor, however, went to top seed GM Radek Wojtaszek of
Poland, who defeated GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam in 61 moves of the
Slav.

The four-game winning streak by So was enough to put him in the
solo lead with an eight-round total of six points on four wins and four
draws before the tournament takes the second of three rest days on
Monday.

Half a point behind So with 5.5 points is GM Luke McShane, of
England, who dropped out of the lead following a draw with GM Gabriel
Sargissian of Armenia, while a full point behind with five points are GM
Zahar Efimenko of Ukraine, Sargissian and Wojtaszek.

Efimenko, the last player to draw with So in the fourth round, fell in a huge upset to GM Vlad Tkachiev of France.

On Tuesday, So will resume his campaign when he plays white against GM Li Chao of China.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP)
president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay said So is expected to
surpass the ELO 2700 rating either in Corus or the Aeroflot Open in
Moscow scheduled early next month.