By U.S. News Agency / Asian

GM Wesley So authored another major upset win, this time against super GM David Navara of the Czech Republic in 34 moves of the Neo-Gruenfeld, and made it three wins in a row in the 73rd Tata Steel-Corus Group B Chess championship at the De Morianne Community Centre.

Riding the momentum of back-to-back victories over GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly of India and GM Laurent Fressinet of France since the one-day break Wednesday that snapped a string of four draws, So played even harder — and better — with white and dominated the higher-rated Navara (ELO 2708) in their keenly-watched encounter in this wind-swept coastal resort in North Holland.

So, who looked resplendent in his lucky blue long-sleeve polo and matching gray pants, emerged from the opening struggle with a slightly better position and went for the kill when Navara blundered with his queen move on the 31st.

The Czech champion resigned three moves later when he was forced to give up a knight to prevent the Filipino’s Ne5, double checking black’s king and queen on the seventh rank.

Overall, the 17-year-old Filipino champion from Bacoor, Cavite improved his score to five points on three wins and four draws and vaulted into a three-way tie for the top spot with GMs Zahar Efienko of Ukraine and Luke McShane of England, halfway in this annual competition.

So’s rise to the top was also greatly helped by GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, who upset erstwhile unbeaten McShane and GM Li Chao of China, who drew with Efimenko in another exciting seventh round match.

Actually, Navara is So’s fifth victim belonging to the elite ELO 2700 club.

He had previously beaten GMs Vassily Ivanchuk (ELO 2764) of Ukraine and Gata Kamsky (ELO 2730) of the United States during the 2009 World Cup and GM Ni Hua (ELO 2724) of China in the 9th Asian Continental Championship in Subic last year and GM Laurent Fressinet (ELO 2707) of France in the sixth round Friday.

So had one more opponent here in Corus with a plus ELO 2000 rating — top seed GM Radek Wojtaszek (ELO 2726) of Poland. The two, however, will not meet until the 13th and final round on Jan. 30.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay said So’s strong showing in the three rounds since the one-day break should provide him with enough momentum and motivation to go for the title even if there are still six rounds left.

“I like Wesley’s chances now. He’s peaking at the right time, just like what he did in winning the title of Group C two years ago,” said Pichay.

It can be recalled that So also started with only 2.5 points in the first four rounds of the 2009 tournament but won six of the next eight to rule Group C with a score of 9.5 points on seven wins, five draws and only one loss.

Last year, So also drew his first five matches in Group B before winning in the sixth and seventh rounds en route to a 3-9-1 win-draw-loss record and 7.5 points for a share of fourth to fifth places.