- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2017

With his top rivals falling by the wayside, GM Wesley So held off an unexpected challenger to claim his first U.S. national championship Monday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

The 23-year-old Philippine native defeated surprise finalist GM Alex Onischuk 11/2-1/2 in a rapid playoff, barely holding off Onischuk’s attempt to tie the match in the decisive second game. The playoff was needed after the two topped the 12-player field with identical 7-4 scores.

On the women’s side, WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor, seeded sixth in the 12-player field, earned her first U.S. title with a 8-3 score, a full point clear of 2016 women’s champ NM Nazi Paikidze.

Coming up short on the men’s side were defending champion GM Fabiano Caruana and four-time former champion GM Hikaru Nakamura, both of whom were expected to contend with So for the title. Round 9 proved fatal to both players’s chances, as Caruana was jolted by a loss to GM Varuzhan Akobian and Nakamura’s hopes were derailed by an untimely loss to Onischuk.

On the women’s side, GM Irina Krush and WGM Anna Zatonskih, both multiple winners of the title, suffered damaging upsets late in the tournament that kept them out of the winner’s circle.

So earned $50,000 for his win and Foisor won $25,000.

 

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