The game Negi-So last night tells us a bit more about the important role the color of pieces Wesley will be handling in this tournament. In the four games Wesley So played so far in Corus, Wesley was handling the black pieces three times and was able to hold his ground. The only game So was holding the white pieces was against Akobian and he was attacking, pressing and came close to a victory. Here's the picture. Wesley So will handle the black pieces 7 times in the 12 rounds he will playing here in Corus. So by going through four games with all ended in draws, Wesley "equal" his chances for a good position with 8 more rounds to play although he remains a full point behind the leaders, Ni Hua and Anish Giri.
I thought that Negi, although he was handling the white pieces, hinted to Wesley for "fair" play instead. Obviously shaken by So's 11...h5, he burns a lot of time in his 12th move (h3), and it looks like he did it to defend other than attacking or improving his position. GM Villamayor noted after Wesley's push of his h pawn, "This h7-h5, is consistent to the plan of controlling h2-b8 diagonal...the fight on these squares e5 and f4 are crucial for both sides, plus g4 is available for the black knight. White should start looking for active play, if not then black's initiative will grow..." After white's 12th move one kibitzer even pointed out that Negi is playing for a draw and Wesley So should gladly accept it. He did. What ensued then was quick exchanges of pieces to reach a quick endgame. This may arouse a debate but the result is just the same. The game ended in a draw and for sure, Wesley wasn't the one who hinted about it.
Today is rest day and all the games resume tomorrow, Thursday January 21. Wesley So will face Indian grandmaster and ex prodigy himself, Pentala Harikrishna in round 5 with the white pieces.
Replay of Negi-So game with GM Bong Villamayor commentary
Real-time live chess games from Corus at chessbomb
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