The year 2014 was a momentous year for Wesley So of the Philippines. The chess world knows him as one of the most phenomenal talents to come out of Philippines and Asia in general. He became one of the world’s youngest GMs at 14 years old and rose quickly in the Filipino ranks. Known primarily as a raw, but unrefined talent, he was then recruited to Webster University by Susan Polgar and began his studies in 2012. He was initially roommates with fellow-GM Ray Robson and enjoyed the camaraderie of his teammates, who were also fellow GMs.
After having enduring a tumultuous battle to switch his affiliation from the Philippines to the U.S., he settled down to continue his education at Webster University. He has credited Polgar and Webster with providing him the guidance and environment he needed to improve his standard. While at Webster he improved his Elo rating by more than 100 points and currently sits at #10 on the FIDE rating list.
While So contends that he is proudly Filipino and gives credit to his country, he made a rather tough decision to switch federations. He then may another tough decision to leave Webster to pursue professional chess. This decision was motivated by his winning the strong Capablanca tournament in Cuba and most notably the inaugural Millionaire Chess Open.
After his historic victory at the Millionaire Chess Open, Wesley So moved to the #10 position on the LIVE rating list. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.
He has added another feather in his cap by winning the North American Open in Las Vegas this past December. Next he will play in the Tata Steel Masters (Wijk aan Zee), perhaps the strongest test he has had in his career. He looks to improve on last year’s tally of 6/13 and cement his status as a top 10 player. There are so many young talents knocking on the door of Magnus Carlsen and So is one of them.
What does this mean for So who is now in the top 10 on the FIDE Elo list? It means that he has to map a plan to get to the next level. As a full-time professional, he will enlist the help of a trainer and perhaps has enough funds to schedule a strong circuit of tournaments. What a magnificent story this is and the chess world will be ready to see how he will fare against the Tata field including Carlsen.
All the best GM Wesley So!
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.