Wesley So crashes Carlsen’s 30th birthday party to win the Skilling Open


“I have to apologize to Magnus for semi-ruining his birthday!” said Wesley So after winning a blitz playoff to clinch 1st place and the $30,000 top prize in the Skilling Open, the first event on the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour. The World Champion’s 30th birthday seemed to be going perfectly when he won the 1st game of the day with the black pieces, but Wesley hit back in Game 2 and survived a wild 3rd game. Magnus then repeated his World Championship match trick of taking a quick draw to reach a playoff, but for once he fell short. (MORE LATER) 

You can replay all the games from the knockout stage of the Champions Chess Tour using the selector below.

And here’s the final day’s commentary from Kaja Snare, Jovanka Houska and David Howell, with cameo appearances by Anish Giri and Henrik Carlsen.

And here’s the commentary of Tania Sachdev and Peter Leko, who were joined from Game 3 by 14th World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik.

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What Peter Leko described as 9 days of insane chess ended when Magnus Carlsen wasn’t able to win the second blitz game of the playoff and force an Armageddon decider. 

Wesley So had done what no-one had managed in a final of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour and thwarted the World Champion. Not only that, Wesley had done it the hard way, coming from behind against Teimour Radjabov in the semi-final and then beating the 2nd favourite, Hikaru Nakamura, in the semifinals.

That means Wesley So now leads the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour with 46 points (40 for winning the final and 6 for finishing 3rd in the preliminary stage). Magnus gets 30 points (20 for finishing 2nd and 10 for winning the prelims). Here are the full standings.

The next event on the tour is the first major, where everything is doubled – the prize fund is $200,000, with up to 100 points available to each player. That starts on December 26th, with So, Carlsen, Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi, Aronian, Radjabov, MVL and Giri already qualified for finishing in the Top 8 in the prelims. They’ll be joined by David Anton, who was voted back in, and three more players, to be announced in the coming weeks. 

It adds some spice that Magnus will finally be playing catch-up!

Come back later for analysis, quotes and more on the final day of the Skilling Open!

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