Grandmaster Wesley So smashed former champion Sam Shankland and Dariusz Swiercz before drawing with Leinier Dominguez-Perez to remain at the helm after six rounds of the 2020 US Chess Championships on Wednesday (Tuesday in the US).

The 27-year-old So, who won the 2017 edition, clobbered 2018 titlist Shankland in 34 moves of a Nimzo-Indian Defense then crushed Swiercz in 35 moves of a Gruenfeld for a fifth straight victory.

The reigning world Fischer-Random champion then chose a quiet line as black in the Ruy Lopez to split the point with the second-seeded Dominguez-Perez in 29 moves and keep his stranglehold of the lead with 5.5 points.

The draw allowed 19-year-old Jeffrey Xiong and So’s former Wester University teammate Ray Robson to close in by half a point after hiking their total points to 5.

Xiong, who trained under University of Texas’ Filipino coach Julio Catalino Sadorra in 2014 and 2015, turned back Iran’s former No. 1 player Elshan Moradiabadi in 53 moves of a King’s Indian, while Robson outlasted Sam Sevian in 43 moves of another King’s Indian duel.

So hopes to keep the lead in the 11-round tournament when he faces Sevian in the seventh round, Moriadiabadi in the eighth and the dangerous Xiong in the ninth on Thursday.

He closes the tournament, which stakes US$40,000 (P2 million) to the champion, by playing Robson in the 10th and penultimate round and off form third seed Hikaru Nakamura in the last.

Source: Manila Bulletin (