Can You Save Like So?

Photo Lennart Ootes

Wesley So, our new US Champion and current World #2 ranked player, dazzled with his queen sacrifice against Jeffery Xiong, one of the most brilliant games in US Championship history, as pointed out by IM Greg Shahade in his recent article. But his 67 game undefeated streak and Championship success also owes much to his saves, turning tough positions into split points or even victories.

See if you can save like So in the following positions.


Gata Kamsky has been pressing Wesley with Black in the penultimate round of the US Chess Championship. In queen endings, the defender has to carefully calculate one series of checks after another, and can often tire and err. Would you move your king right or left in this position?

White to Move


No curse of the 40th or 41st move for Wesley! In his round three battle against Fabiano Caruana, can you find the clear path to draw?

White to Move

Alexander Onischuk

In the playoffs, Wesley won the first game with a combative victory against Onischuk, staying ahead on the clock and finding great resources,like the tricky 20. Bg4 (22…Rxg4 would failed to 23.Nxg4 Bh5 24.fxe6 Bxg4 25.Ba3!) Wesley, later retreated the same bishop for the crushing finesse 25.Bd1! (…Bxf5 allows Ne3! with a winning double attack.)

In the second round of the playoff, Wesley was in serious trouble and needed only a draw to avoid Armageddon and win his first US Championship title. How did he keep things as difficult as possible for Onischuk in this position?

Black to Move 

The dark square fortress was impenetrable, and Wesley was crowned US Chess Champion. Review the feat and his post victory interview (starting at 2:30:23) on the YouTube replay.

Look for more on Wesley So and Sabina Foisor’s thrilling victories in an upcoming issue of Chess Life Magazine.


  1. On the final “save” the answer is g5 followed by Kg7. However, it fails to explain why White did not play hxg5. The old adage is when ahead trade. If the Queens ever come off, then White will have better winning chances.

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press