Minnetonka chess Grandmaster Wesley So scored the biggest victory of his career Sunday, winning a tournament in Spain that is one of the premier events on the world chess calendar.
So won the Bilbao Masters Final tournament, scoring ahead of a former world champion and two other top-10 players. He has won high-level tourneys before, but none with a field this strong.
"It's really an amazing experience for me competing against the best players in the world, and of course I wasn't expecting to win before the event," So said in comments at the closing ceremony.
So drew widespread praise for his first-round win over Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren, which a Chess.com journalist called "one of the most spectacular games of the year." He sacrificed his queen for three minor pieces, then proved that his army of weaker pieces could overcome his opponent's powerful queen.
In addition to two draws against former world champion Viswanathan Anand, So had wins over Liren and Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri, the latter coming in a speed chess tie-break playoff. So, Giri and Liren are all 23 or younger, and are considered emerging rivals for a world championship.
The win in Spain marks a year since the Filipino-born So quit college, moved to Minnetonka and launched his career as a chess professional. Currently, he's ranked 10th in the world.