Wesley So settled for another draw with French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave early Wednesday and lagged behind Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen in the all-Grandmaster Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.
With a rook and two pawns each and their position even, So and Vachier-Lagrave agreed to split the point after 43 moves of a Grunfeld Defense, enabling Carlsen to pull away in the standings of the 14-player round-robin tournament.
Carlsen, also the world’s highest rated with Elo 2860, trounced Azerbaijan’s Teimour Radjabov after 40 moves of a Ruy Lopez, posting his sixth straight win to raise his total to 7.0 points after nine rounds.
So, the only unscathed player in the field, and Vachier-Lagrave, the 2009 world junior titlist, shared second place with 6.0 points each.
Trailing them at 5.5 points were erstwhile pacesetter Vassily Ivanchuk and Chinese champion Ding Liren.
Ivanchuk, still smarting from a crushing defeat to So in the eighth round, drew with Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek while Liren was beaten by Dutch Anish Giri in the ninth round.
Despite his recent success, So trails the French in their five matches thus far, losing once and drawing the rest.
Other matches saw Croatian Ivan Saric draw with Dutch Loek Van Wely; defending champion Levon Aronian dump Baadur Jobava; and world No. 2 Fabiano Caruana (2820) of Italy draw with women’s world champion Hou Yifan (2673) of China.
Though So’s live rating hardly moved at 2785.2 from 2785.3, the Caviteño now representing the United States slid to eighth from No. 6 in the world rankings.
With their victories, Giri (2785.7) and Aronian (2785.5) climbed to sixth and seventh, respectively.