WHAT makes one popular? My observation is that if you have money or if you are talented, good-looking and pretty, you get invited to parties and big events.

In chess, what counts most is talent but there are also a lot of factors that come in.

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The reasons Wesley So is now the darling of the chess crowd is because he is the youngest ever to become super GM, the youngest player now in the top 60, and he comes from a third country, and is also Asian at that. He also has the distinction of being the strongest 14-year-old player in history.

He also defeated super strong players, Vassily Ivanchuk and Gata Kamsky, in the last World Cup.

Earlier, he was invited to Corus, which is like being invited to the White House. Now, he is playing at Biel, a much sought after event by GMs. It has been a so-so performance by Wesley though as he scored only 4.5/9 to place fifth after tiebreaks.

EXPERIENCE. Here comes the 5th NH tournament to be held from Aug. 12 to 22 at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam.

The NH Chess Tournament is a “Scheveningen” team tournament between an “Experienced” team and a “Rising Stars” team. There’s a special prize for the best Rising Star--an invitation to the celebrated 2011 Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament.

The “Experience” team has Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2739), Peter Svidler (Russia, 2734), Peter Heine Nielsen (Denmark, 2700), Loek van Wely (The Netherlands, 2677) and Ljubomir Ljubojevic (Serbia, 2572). The “Rising Stars” are Hikaru Nakamura (United States, 2729), Fabiano Caruana (Italy, 2697), Wesley So (Philippines, 2674), Anish Giri (Netherlands, 2672) and David Howell (England, 2616).

Another event where our prodigy is invited is the Spice Cup 2010.

The Spice Cup will take place on Oct. 28 to Nov. 7 at the campus of Texas Tech University.

To make the tournament a lot more exciting, the Spice Cup committee has unanimously voted to adapt the following new rules: No draw offer allowed prior to move 30, a win is worth three points and a draw is worth 1 point.

The invited players are Zoltan Almasi (2717), Alexander Onischuk (2701), So (2674),Georg Meier (2648), Ray Robson (2562), Eugene Perelshteyn (2523).

Wesley will also be playing in the Pichay Cup on Aug. 20 to 27 and the Campomanes Memorial on Aug. 28 to Sept. 5.

There is, of course, the granddaddy of them all, the Chess Olympiad in Russia on Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.

LOCAL. Here are the winners of the Golden Haven competition held at Talamban Hills last Sunday.

The Kiddies section winner is Andrew Balbona. Second place went to his brother Felix Shaun and third to Raffy Benzi. The Junior winners were Bernardo Suelo, Kyle Sevillano, who opted to play at the Junior level, and Kraig Quinain.

I checked, though I stand to be corrected, this is probably the first chess tournament in the world held in a cemetery.

The Bulacao tournament was also held last Sunday at Hillside Village. There were three sections--seniors, open and kiddies.

The winners were Joel Acabo, John Jane Bayutas and Emmanuele Arcamo.

The sponsors were Danilo Penaranda, Gil Buzon, Bernardo Navarro and Ronnie Lobarada.

There is also an upcoming tournament in Labogon this Saturday at their Barangay Hall.

It will start at 9 a.m. and will have four sections--class B, open, Kiddies and Women.

Players are advised to bring their own chess sets and clock.

The sponsor is Sen. Lito Lapid and the tournament director and arbiter is NM Leonardo Alidani.