Grandmaster Wesley So pulled off three straight victories and seized the solo lead after the third round of the United States Chess Championship on Tuesday.

Living up to his top billing, So disposed Alex Lenderman, Alejandro Ramirez and Awonder Liang for the early lead with three points, half a point ahead of 19-year-old Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson.

The 26-year-old So, who is now based in Minnesota, is tipped to win this single-round robin tournament after the 2016 champion and world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana skipped the event.

The event stakes a top purse worth $40,000 (around P2 million) and features 12 of the top chessers in the US.

Apart from the prize, So also seeks his second US title after ruling the event three years ago.

But he is expected to face rough sailing in a field that included Xiong, a player who trained under Filipino GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, and Robson, So’s former teammate at Webster University.

Others who are going to give So a run for his money are second seed Leinier Dominguez, third pick Hikariu Nakamura, 2018 titlist Sam Shankland, Sam Sevian, Dariusz Swiercz and Elshan Moradiabadi.

Source: Manila Bulletin (