WIJK AAN
ZEE, Netherlands Jan 20– Four draws in as many rounds in the 73rd Tata
Steel-Corus Group B chess championships may not be an ideal result for
GM Wesley So of the Philippines.

But they are also surely not enough to discourage the Filipino champion from trying even harder in the coming rounds.

So returns to action after a one-day rest when he takes on GM
Surya Shekhar Ganguly of India in one of seven matches in the fifth
round at the de Moriaan Community Center here Thursday.

The 17-year-old campaigner from Bacoor, Cavite, who topped Group
C of this prestigious competition two years ago and finished fourth in
Group B last year, will play the disadvantageous black pieces against
Ganguly.

Ganguly, who earned his GM title during the 35th World Chess
Olympiad in Slovenia in 2002, is best remembered for his role as a
member of the team of seconds that helped GM Viswanathand Anand win his
world title matches against GM Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 and GM Veselin
Topalov in 2010.

“It’s a big challenge for Wesley to play against Ganguly, but
I’m confident about his chances,” said National Chess Federation of the
Philippines (NCFP) president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

Actually, So also started on a modest note when he bagged the title in Group C two years ago.

After scoring only 2.5 points in the first four rounds, So won
six of his next eight matches to capture the title in his debut in this
prestigious competition now being sponsored by Indian steel giant Tata.

He finished with 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 enroute to a 3-9-1 win-draw-loss
record and 7.5 points for a tie for fourth to fifth places.

This year, So drew his first four matches against GM Le Quang
Liem of Vietnam, GM Garbriel Sargissian of Armenia, GM Jon Ludvig Hammer
of Norway and GM Zahar Efimenko of
Ukraine.

Except for the fourth-seeded Efimenko (ELO 2701), all the three
other opponents of So are seeded lower in the tough, 14-player,
category-17 tournament.

Surprise leader GM Luke McShane of England will stake the solo
lead when he meets GM Laurent Fressinet of France on the top board.

McShane swept his first three assignments before drawing the fourth to take the early lead with 3.5 points.

Efimenko, Fressinet, Sargissian and GM David Navara of the Czech Republic share second to fifth places with three points.