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Chess grandmaster Wesley So outplayed Gareev Timur of the United States in the seventh
round Sunday to qualify outright for the semi-finals of the Millionaire Open chess tournament at
the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

With the victory that pushed the Filipino into a share of the lead with Webster University
teammate Roby Robson, each with six points, So also jumped into the top 10 of the world's
highest-rated grandmasters.

The 21-year-old So now has a live rating of 2762, a personal best, after gaining 7.0 rating
points from five wins and two draws. He surpassed former world champion Vladimir Kramnik,
who has a 2760 rating.

In the semi-finals Monday, So faces Chinese GM  Zhou Jianchao while Robson tangles with
another Chinese grandmaster, Yu Yangyi.

The Chinese prevailed over their opponents in knock-out games to break a four-way tie for the
remaining two slots and set up the China versus Webster University semi-finals.

So, the top seed, is picked as the favorite in the US$1 million tournament that offers
US$100,00 to the champion, but his coach, Paul Truong, dismisses the talk as speculation.

"I would not put any weight behind any of these predictions," Truong said.  "In such a short
format, anything can happen. One mistake can cost any player the big prize.

"We are not worried about winning. We put more emphasis on making good and sound

The march of the two Webster University players into the next round accomplished Truong's
and his fellow coach Susan Polgar's goal of taking the tournament one step at a time and it will
be no holds-barred in the finals.

Truong and Polgar are generally credited with So's rise in the world standing but they have
also gotten flak for influencing the Filipino's request to transfer to the US chess federation from
the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).

So will sit out tournament circuit  uintil August next year before he can compete in official FIDE
or the international chess federation events, although he can accumulate live rating points with
a strong performance, such as in this tournament.
Wesley So through to semi-finals, moves in on the big prize
Wesley So is taking it one move at a time in line with the strategy of coach Paul Truong. Photo: Paul Truong/Facebook

In such a short time, anything can happen. We are
not worried about winning. We put more emphasis on
making good and sound moves
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