Harikrishna stays in fifth place; Wesley So goes on top

CHENNAI, Sep 18: Indian Grandmaster P Harikrishna maintained his joint fifth place in the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz online chess tournament even as American Wesley So climbed to the top spot ahead of world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Competing in the last three rounds of the Rapid event, Harikrishna started well with a win over American player Jeffery Xiong in 66 moves. After a draw against another US player Hikaru Nakamura, the India number was outlasted by So in 69 moves on Thursday.

The win allowed So to take the lead after nine rounds of the Rapid competition with two days of Blitz events to come. Carlsen crashed to a 46-move defeat at the hands of Russian Alexander Grischuk.

So is in sole lead with 13 points followed by Carlsen (12) and the two Russians Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk on 10.

After a bright start to his campaign with two victories on the opening day, Harikrishna could manage only one more win in his other six games, that pushed him to the middle of the points table.

Also sharing fifth place with the Indian are Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura.

The tournament continues on Friday and Saturday with Blitz games.

In each rapid game, a win fetches a player two points while a draw gets him one point. In each blitz game, a win is worth one point and a draw gets a player half point.

The 10 players are competing for USD 250,000 prize pursein nine rapid games and eighteen blitz games over five days of play.

The tournament hosted by US-based St Louis Chess Club concludes on September 19.

Standings after Rapid event: 1. Wesley So (13 points), 2. Magnus Carlsen (12 points), 3. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk (10 points); 5 P Harikrishna, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura (9 points), 8. Jeffery Xiong (7 points); 9. Leinier Dominiguez (8 points); 10. Alireza Firouzja (5 points). (PTI)