MANILA, Philippines - Wesley So downed fellow GM Samuel Shankland of the US to notch his second straight win for an early share of the lead with former World Challenger Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine in the ninth Edmonton Chess Festival in Canada yesterday.
So, 20, dismantled Shankland’s Benko Gambit and went pawn-up in the opening which he translated into an unstoppable queenside passed pawn to carve out the 36-move victory.
So earlier crushed Canadian IM Richard Wang in 36 moves of a Gruenfeld.
The Webster U standout, currently No. 15 in the world, thus tied the second seeded Ivanchuk who overpowered Canadian GM Anton Kovalyov in 35 moves of another Gruenfeld encounter.
This is So’s first tournament since he announced his plans to switch federations.
The National Chess Federation of the Phl, however, maintained that So will be bannering the country’s campaign in the World Chess Olympiad set Aug. 1-15 in Tromso, Norway.
So has been seeded into the squad along with US-based GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra and Oliver Barbosa.
The other two slots are still being disputed by 11 players in the ongoing Battle of Grandmasters or Olympiad qualifiers at the PSC Administration building at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
After four rounds, Olympiad veteran GM Eugene Torre paces the tournament with IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Woman FIDE Master Janelle Mae Frayna with nine points apiece.
The 62-year-old Torre, who owns the record of most Olympiad apperances with 21, trounced IM Richard Bitoon while Garcia defeated Joel Pimentel and Frayna shocked GM Joey Antonio.