For the third time in a row, a Minnetonka chess player has won an international super tournament and now stands as the No. 2-ranked player in the world.
Grandmaster Wesley So won the Tata Steel tournament in the Netherlands, a prestigious 13-round event that ended Sunday. So was the only one of the 14 elite players in the field to go undefeated, with five wins and eight draws.
It's now been more than six months and 56 games since So lost a game at the standard, hourslong time control (as opposed to minutes-long blitz time controls).
"Wesley So has rocked the chess world," was how Chessbase.com's report summed up his performance. "There is no doubt that Wesley So has exhibited the best chess out of anyone in the world the past couple of months."
Notable in his Tata Steel victory is that it's the first time that So, 23, has won a tournament that included World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway. Carlsen, who finished second, had skipped the previous two super tournaments that So won — the London Chess Classic in December, and the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis in August.
"Winning this tournament is huge, with the world champion in it — the best player in the world," So said in an interview for the Tata Steel Chess website.
For the moment and for the first time, So has reached the No. 2 spot in the world rankings and is now the top U.S. player, moving ahead of fellow American Fabiano Caruana, who lost Sunday in a separate tournament in Gibraltar.
During his string of super tournament victories, So also collected double gold — for his individual play and the U.S. team's play — at the Chess Olympiad in September.
Explaining his success over the past six months, So said: "I think the secret is that if you keep working and you have a clear view of your vision and your goals, then the results will come, and I don't lose too much sleep trying to keep my undefeated streak."
Dennis J. McGrath • 612-673-4293