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So seeks crucial win



Wesley So goes for a win so crucial in his title-retention drive as he faces Daniel Naroditsky while Aleksandr Lindeman and Sam Sevian try to fuel their own championship bid in the US Chess Championships at the St, Louis Chess Club in Missouri Saturday.

The 11-round event among 12 of American’s top players took its second and last break Friday with joint leaders So, Lenderman and Sevian all geared up for the vital games that would either clear or muddle up the title race.

The troika paces the field with 5 points apiece with Leiner Dominguez Perez and Ray Robson just behind with 4.5 points and top ranked Fabiano Caruana a point adrift of the leaders with four points heading to the crucial stretch.

Perez and Robson actually provide the day’s other highlight game as they clash in a match that would bolster the winner’s title bid while virtually shattering the other’s chances.

Caruana, meanwhile, is in a must-win game against Darius Swiercz, down at joint sixth with Sam Shankland, Lazaro Bruzon Batista and Naroditsky with 3.5 points. Jeffery Xiong and John Burke bring up the rear with three points apiece.

In other ninth round matches, Lenderman mixes it up with Shankland, Sevian tangles with Burke, and Xiong clashes with Batista.

So has won twice and drew six times but said he needs at least one more victory to stay in the hunt for another crown he dominated last year by going 9-of-11 in a tournament held online at Lichess due to the global health crisis.

The Philippine-born ace, who also won in 2017 in a rapid playoff with Alexander Onischuk, will next face Sevian in the penultimate round before closing out his campaign following a fourth place finish in the Meltwater Chess Championship finals against Robson.