By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – Despite a two-pawn edge in a bishops of opposite colors and pawn endgame, Wesley So could not break through David Navara’s defenses and settled for a draw in the CEZ ChessTrophy 2015 series in Prague.
Playing the black pieces, Wesley appeared to have positional advantage in addition to the material edge, but Navara came through with the precise moves to thwart So’s pawn advance in the king side.
The two agreed to split the point after 94 moves.
So will play white in the second game of the 4-game series on Saturday.
The CEZ Chess trophy is a prestigious tournament in Prague organized by the Prague Chess Society.
Now on its 13th year, the series usually pits the top Czech player against a designated highly rated foreign chess grandmaster.
Last year, Navara faced Hikaru Nakamura, the highly regarded American, now rated No.4 in the world in live ratings.
It was a one-sided series, however, with Nakamura crushing Navara, 3.5 to .5 with the 30-year-old Czech grandmaster managing to score only a draw in four games.
Coming off from a so-so performance in the French Top 12 team championships recently, So and his supporters hoped to score a better result to recover lost rating points.
There was even talk of a sweep against Navara for an 18+- point increase, but now, it seems they can only wish for the best the rest of the series.
The 21-year-old Bacoor, Cavite native now sits at No. 10 in world live ratings with 2771.3 points. He seems to have enough caution however, to stay on the spot with his closest pursuer, Dmitry Jakovenko of Russia, 14.6 rating points behind.
Then, at No.12 is hard-charging Sergey Karjakin, and the 25-year-old Russian grandmaster is just 18.3 points behind So.
At No. 13 is the 46-year-old Boris Gelfand of Israel with 2751 points, followed by two Chinese, Ding Liren (2748.6) and Li Chao (2748.0)
The numbers are volatile and constantly change, depending on how the players are active, but competing in weak tournaments does not help.
It is an indication of whether you’re moving up or down in the world ranking and how well you compete with the best. It also gauges how you manage your career as a chess professional and the type of advice you’re getting.