FORMER Philippine national chess player Wesley So took a step closer in his bid for the World Championship, securing a place in the Candidates Tournament 2018.
Grandmaster So, who moved to the US to improve his chances of battling for the world crown, has earned a spot on the eight-player tournament set March 10 to 28 in Berlin that will determine the next challenger to world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
Six of the eight places have been filled, with So and fellow American Fabio Caruana claiming spots by virtue of their average rating for the year. Caruana is making a return after placing second in the 2016 Candidates Tournament.
So, the second-highest rated American woodpusher, and US No. 1 Caruana, were confirmed for the event after organizers two days ago nominated former world champion Vladimir Kramnik as the tournament wild card.
Before the organizers' announcement, only a few points separated Kramnik, So and Caruana in the race for the two spots via rating average.
The Candidates Tournament is double round-robin event.
Sergey Karjakin, as loser of the championship duel with Carlsen in 2016, gets a spot in the Candidates Tournament 2018. The Russian GM topped the last Candidates Tournament.
Armenia’s Levon Aronian also returns to the tournament after winning the Chess World Cup 2017, while runner-up Ding Liren of China also advances.
The two vacant spots will be filled by the top finishers in the 2017 Fide Grand Prix.