MANILA, Philippines - Wesley So crushed Canadian International Master Raja Panjwani in their Irregular Opening encounter to stay in the lead with former World Challenger Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine after three rounds of the ninth Edmonton Chess Festival in Canada yesterday.
So, 20, sacrificed a rook to launch a threat, forcing Panjwani to resign on the 23rd and hiking the Webster U standout total to three points.
The second-seeded Ivanchuk matched the Filipino ace’s hot start, beating Canadian Alex Yam in 35 moves of an English Opening.
So, who moved to No. 15 in the world ranking after topping the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba recently, earlier trampled Canadian Richard Wang then downed American GM Samuel Shankland.
Meanwhile, youthful IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia shocked GM Joey Antonio in 48 moves of a Berlin game to wrest the solo lead with 12 points, one point ahead of GM Eugene Torre after five rounds of the Battle of the Grandmasters in Manila.
Torre, who led in the early going of the tournament which stakes two Olympiad berths, drew with Joel Pimentel after 39 moves of a Slav.
So, who has signified his intention to switch federations from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines to the US Chess Federation, has actually been seeded into the Olympiad team along with US-based GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra and Oliver Barbosa.
The World Chess Olympiad will be played Aug. 1-15 in Tromso, Norway.
Tournament sensation Janelle Mae Frayna made a blunder and settled for a 44-move draw with GM Banjo Barcenilla in their English Opening game.
The 18-year-old Far Eastern U standout thus fell into a three-way tie for third with IM Paulo Bersamina and GM John Paul Gomez with 10.5 points apiece.