GRANDMASTER Wesley So of the Philippines fought gallantly against Corus B top seed GM Arkadij Naiditsch of Germany and was able to force a draw in the first round of the 2010 Corus International Chess Championship Sunday at the De Moriaan Community Centre in Netherlands.

So battled Naiditsch in an English Opening and forced the draw after almost seven hours of play.

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"It was the last game to finish in round one. We went back to our hotel under snow condition," said So's long-time manager, businessman Reginald Tee who acted as the youngster's chief second.

The Latvian-born Naiditsch holds the highest ELO rating of 2689 in Group B of the three-division tournament.

So, who topped Group C last year with 9.5 points on seven wins, five draws and only one loss, is making his first appearance in the stronger category-16 Group B where the average rating is Elo 2627.

So, the 16-year-old chess prodigy from Bacoor, Cavite, will be facing Dutch GM Erwin l'Ami in Round 2. The game was scheduled to start at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday Manila time. GM Erwin also halved the point with Chinese GM Ni Hua.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines president and chairman Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr. said it was a good start for So.

"I hope he can perform well in Corus chess," Pichay said.

Other first round results which also ended draws were that of the games between England GM David Howell versus Indian GM Parimarjan Negi and Ukrainian Woman GM Anna Muzychuk against American GM Varuzhan Akobian.

Israeli GM Emil Sutovsky, Romanian GM Liviu Nisipeanu, former World Championships finalist and local bet GM Anish Giri toppled their respective rivals.

Sutovsky downed Dutch GM Dimitri Reinderman, Nisipeanu crushed Finish GM Tomi Nyback while Giri hammered Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna.