By Kristel Satumbaga
Philippine-born Wesley So blew a four-point lead and suffered a heartbreaking 9.5-8.5 defeat at the hands of United States teammate Fabiano Caruana to crash out of the Clutch Chess International Saturday.
Up by four 6-2 going into the final six of their 12-game semifinal showdown, So succumbed to pressure as he scored just 2.5 points – a win and a draw – while Caruana scored four wins including the “Clutch” Game 11 where he gained three points that knocked the former out.
Caruana avenged his stinging defeat to So in the Clutch Chess Champions Cup two weeks ago where he lost via tiebreaker.
It was, in contrast, a total self-destruction for So as he appeared headed to a title duel with reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen the day before only to blow his chances.
Instead it will be Caruana against Carlsen, who made it through with a 12-6 demolition of Armenian Levon Aronian, setting up an riveting duel between the world’s top two chessers.
Caruana started the day by winning the seventh and eighth game but So sprung back to life by seizing the ninth to cling to a 7-4 lead.
It turned out to be So’s last show of force as Caruana snatched the 10th game and the critical 11th game that gave him the lead for good as they drew the 12th and final game.