By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Grandmaster Wesley So hopes to become the first online champion of the $1.6 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour as he competes against an elite field, including world champion and tour leader Magnus Carlsen starting next week.
The Cavite-born So, 27, owns the distinction of finishing in the playoff phase of all the 9 legs, including three titles — Skilling Open, Euro Opera Rapid and Chessable Masters — to finish second overall in the tour race behind Carlsen.
Interestingly, Carlsen could have shared the distinction with So but the Norwegian superstar missed the Chessable Masters, which was the eighth leg that So eventually won.
Out to crowd So and Carlsen for the title and the grand prize of $100,000 (roughly P5 million) are Armenian Levon Aronian, Russian Vladislav Artemiev, American Hikaru Nakamura, Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov, Dutch Anish Giri, Polish Jan-Krzysztof Duda and French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.