By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – After a long lay off, Wesley So is back in action with the Top 12 French League Team chess championships featuring some of the best players in Europe.
So, who is spearheading the tournament favorite, Clichy, was off to a good start, drawing the first game and winning in the second round.
Clichy won the championships last year, completing a three-peat, and is picked to win again this year with a bevy of super talents led by So.
The team also features the man they call MVL, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the top French grandmaster, who has won two straight after being in the doldrums for 94 days and 28 tries.
Scheduled May 30 to June 9, the tournament, the French highest league for men, is being held in the seaside resort of Le Grau-du-Roi, and its marina Port-Camargue.
Competing this year are Vandoeuvre, Bischwiller, Chalons-en-Champagne, Poitiers-Migne, Clichy, Evry Grand Roque, Philidor Mulhouse, Bois-Colombes, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Metz Fischer, Grasse, according to the chess website, chess24.com.
Aside from So and MVL, among the participants are Anish Giri, the Dutch grandmaster who also appears to be in a funk after losing to So in his first-round game at the Gashimov Memorial tournament in Azerbaijan, and David Navara,who is scheduled to face So in a four-game match later in June in Prague.
It’s So’s first tournament since finishing an impressive third behind reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen and five-time champion Vishy Anand in the Gashimov Memorial championships in Azerbaijan.
Also competing in France are Laurent Fressinet, Etienne Bacrot, Alexander Ipatov, Tornike Sanikidze, Dmitry Jakovenko, Mattthieu Cornette, Sebastien Maze, Pavel Tregubov, and Laurent Fressinet, said chess24.com.
In the first round, So could not make headway against Jan Krzysztof, a 17-year-old Polish player, but in the second round, he proved too much for grandmaster Eduardes Rozentalis, who was forced to resign after 43 moves.
A weak move in what looked like a drawish endgame with equal material proved to be Rozentalis undoing.
With seven grandmasters, three of whom are rated 2700 or better, Clitchy outplayed Strasbourg in the second round, 4 1/2 to 3 1/2 points.
Rozentalis -0 So – 1