World Champion Magnus Carlsen stood up for US star Wesley So today after his opponent was accused of “unsporting” behavior.
So sparked shock as he tamely conceded a draw that consigned him to defeat against the World Champion in their first Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge quarter-final mini-match.
The former US champion accepted a three-fold repetition when he could have fought on in the third game of the rubber. It left him sunk on 2.5-0-5.
In the commentary box, IM Lawrence Trent said So had been “unsporting” before clarifying his position. “It was just not Wesley’s day,” said Trent.
“I want to make something clear, I am a big Wesley fan. I’ve known Wesley for a very long time and I think he’s a great chess player and great ambassador, but what I think he did today is not in the spirit of the competition, to be brutally honest.”
Carlsen replied: “I would say, let the man redeem himself in the next few days!”
Carlsen had calmly won the first two games of the day but So, who has been extremely solid in the tournament so far, was not out of it. The champion said afterward: “I’m not going to sit and dwell too much on that, but it was obviously a pleasant surprise for me.”
So will now have to come back and win mini-matches on both Tuesday and Wednesday to go through. It will be a tough ask.
In the other quarterfinal, an all-Russian clash, Daniil Dubov went 2-0 up against Carlsen’s former World Champion title challenger Sergey Karjakin.
Dubov played some strategically perfect chess and never gave his fellow countryman any respite. It left Karjakin needing a miracle, and it did not come as Dubov impressively ended the mini-match in the third with another win the “Minister of Defence” spurned a three-fold repetition.