Aimchess Rapid: Dominant So makes it to the Grand Final

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/14/2023 – Wesley So scored back-to-back, dominant victories over Eduardo Iturrizaga and Nodirbek Abdusattorov to win the losers’ bracket of the Aimchess Rapid online tournament. So will face Magnus Carlsen in Friday’s Grand Final, played to the best of 4. If Carlsen loses, he will get a second chance against the same opponent, as he has yet to lose a match in the event. | Photo: Champions Chess Tour

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


A fatal pre-move

Wesley So will face Magnus Carlsen in the Grand Final of the Aimchess Rapid, the fourth event in this year’s Champions Chess Tour. So knocked out Fabiano Caruana on Wednesday, before beating Eduardo Iturrizaga and Nodirbek Abdusattorov in back-to-back matches the following day. Thus, So won the losers’ bracket convincingly.

This is the first time So reaches a Grand Final in this year’s online tour. His victory over Caruana says a lot about So’s current level though, as Caruana came from reaching the Grand Finals in the two previous events of the tour (he lost both times, first to Hikaru Nakamura and then to Abdusattorov).

Referring to his chances against Carlsen, the ever-humble US star noted:

I’ve lost way too many matches against Magnus in the past, so things should be different at some point. Hopefully tomorrow will be the day.

On Thursday, So got to kick off the day with a mating attack against Eduardo Iturrizaga, who had knocked out none other than Levon Aronian in the previous round.

Black was already in trouble with his weakened king on g7. Iturrizaga’s 62...Qb1 only made things easier for So, though, as White now had mate-in-7.

So had no trouble finding 63.Nf5+ Kh7 64.Qe7+ Kh8 65.Rd8+ Ng8 66.Qe5+

It is all about king safety in these positions! Iturrizaga resigned after 66...Kh7 68.Rd7+. A draw in the following game gave So the ticket to the losers’ bracket final.

Similarly to his first match of the day, So scored a win and a draw against Abdusattorov to reach the Grand Final. Playing black in game 1, it was a pre-move by the young Uzbek which gave So the victory.

Black has two extra pawns, but White has some counterplay with his active pieces — and, more importantly, both players were running very low on time, with less than 15 seconds on the clock. The most precise way to continue here is 35...Rd4, defending the knight, when White’s best reply would be 36.Rh8.

So, a formidable technician, erred with 35...Re4, which according to the engines leads to a balanced position if White captures the knight on d8 with 36.Rxd8 and then grabs the h7-pawn by giving a check on the seventh rank.

Abdusattorov, however, had foreseen that his famed opponent would in fact place his rook on d4 and pre-moved 36.Rh8, wasting a key tempo!

Now the forcing 36...Rxe5 37.Rxd8 Re7 simply allows Black to consolidate his position with extra material. Seven moves later, White resigned.

This game had seen Abdusattorov going for 1.e4 e5 2.Bb5 in the opening, a variation described by Anthony Levin as the ‘Accelerated Ruy Lopez’.

Division I - Games and brackets

Division II - Games and brackets

Division III: Games at | Brackets at

Master Class Vol.8 - Magnus Carlsen 2nd Edition

Let our authors show you how Carlsen tailored his openings to be able to outplay his opponents strategically in the middlegame or to obtain an enduring advantage into the endgame.


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.