21-year-old Filipino Wesley So has won the Millionaire Open final in Las Vegas to claim the $100,000 first prize. His opponent in the last match was 19-year-old US player and Webster University teammate Ray Robson. After a quiet draw with Black in the first game So managed to apply pressure from the off in the second thanks to an opening idea that gave him a winning position after only 13 moves.
Everything turned on the second 25-minute rapid game of the $150,000 final on Millionaire Monday:
1. d4 ♘f6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 c6 4. ♗g2 d5 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. ♘f3 ♗g7 7. ♘c3 ♘e4 With this move order, delaying castling, Black hopes to exploit the early development of the white knight in order to exchange it, and therefore simplify the position. This approach had certainly been successful so far, but So came into this game with an interesting idea that's going to be the talk of the town.
8. ♕a4+! Emphasising the one real drawback of Ne4 - the black king remained in the centre!
8. ♕b3 or
8. ♘e5 were the normal moves, which hadn't managed to achieve anything special for White.
12... ♖c8! was the only accurate move in order not to lose material immediately, since after 13. ♕b3 (13. O-O , followed by Bf4 and e4 would maintain the advantage, but with equal material on the board) 13... e6 14. ♕xb7? ♕xb7 15. ♖xb7 ♘xd4! Black holds.
13. ♖xb6! The a8-rook is unprotected.
14... O-O 15. O-O ♖fd8 16. ♖d1 ♕c7 17. ♖b5 e6 18. ♗g5 ♘e7 19. ♖db1 f6 20. ♗d2 So doesn't need to go overboard to pick up the point and with so much money at stake who would want to take any risks - even in Vegas!
28... ♔xg7 there's
29. ♕b7+ winning the rook.
Despite the defeat Ray Robson shouldn’t be too sad, since he took home a whopping prize of $50,000 and had also come within an inch of defeat in the semifinal against the formidable Chinese player Yu Yangyi, who suffered an incredible miss in the following position:
Yu Yangyi, with White, has completely outplayed Robson. He could now win with a simple combination: 32.Rxf5+! Qxf5 33.Qxg8+ Kxg8 34.Nxe7 followed by Nxf5, which would have forced Robson to resign. However, the Chinese player failed to finish off the game and actually ended up losing! Without this miracle – not Ray’s first of the tournament – it’s unlikely he would have made the final. You can replay the whole of that very tough loss for Yu Yangyi with computer analysis here.
So after a mere five days Millionaire Chess is over, having distributed a massive $1,000,000 in prizes. You can replay all the games on our live broadcast page and see more information on the official website.
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