The curious case of GM Wesley So

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By Mike T. Limpag

Fair Play

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


THERE’S a gripping drama in Philippine sports and no it doesn’t involve the hardwood or the field. It involves Grandmaster Wesley So and the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

So, ranked No. 15 in the world, and the country’s best hope for a world title in the cerebral game, wants to be released by the NCFP so he can play for the US chess Federation. The former child prodigy also said that the move is his best chance at gaining a shot at a world title.

It seems everybody plus the neighborhood con artist who preys on people with a chess board are behind So in this move, while Pichay has the backing of the Philippine Sports Commission, which has since suspended the GM’s P40,000 monthly allowance as an elite athlete.

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So’s request to switch federation may seem odd, but the NCFP’s counter-move takes the cake.

After So requested that he be released so he could play for the US, the NCFP has named him to the Philippine team that will see action in the Olympiad (I thought we had trials for that), and said it can’t act unless So files in a formal request for transfer.

It’s curious how most--if not all--players side with So on this matter and that, perhaps, shows there are cracks in the NCFP heirarchy. Or have the ranks lost faith in their leadership?

By the way, is So right when he said he’s not getting enough support to chase his dream of becoming a world champion? Well, this is chess, not boxing where an aggressive promoter --will get you a title shot tomorrow. The world championship cycle in chess is a complex one and you’d need more than P40,000 a month to get there.

I don’t know where this latest drama will end--or how long will it be played--but I hope it ends in a win-win situation. This certainly won’t end without the two sides sitting down to iron out their differences.

Chess is one sport where we can and we had excelled internationally. It certainly is a sport that millions of Filipinos can get into, and from that millions, perhaps we can find our next Wesley So.

I hope, when that time comes, the next chess prodigy in chess would have something positive to look up to in this sorry episode and not think, “If that happened to him…”

(www.mikelimpag@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 19, 2014.

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