Chess

Player Profile – Wesley So

Top Philippines player and currently world’s youngest Grandmaster

Wesley So, the World’s Youngest Grandmaster (at 14 years 1 month) and the No. 1 ranked player in the Philippines, was born on 9 October 1993 in Cavite, Luzon, the only son of William and Eleanor So.

To date, Wesley’s only coach to is Michael Corino who helped him develop his potential when he was between 11 and 12 years of age (especially in developing an opening repertoire).

Today he works alone, and his training is largely with using databases to keep up with theoretical developments and to prepare his openings while analysing alongside chess engines.

Amongst chess players today he admires Magnus Carlsen for his self belief, uncompromising approach and fighting spirit, and until his retirement, also Gary Kasparov for his fantastic capacity for work, his deep opening repertoire and unmatched ability to develop innovations.

Wesley is currently a Junior High School student at St Francis of Assisi in Cavite, Luzon (10 km from Manila) and enjoys the lifestyle of a typical young teenager, including listening to rock music, and reading and watching adventure and horror novels and movies.

wesley so

Wesley So

Just playing his best

- What has got him attracted to chess, how did he start playing?

- He likes solving chess problems, he learned moves from father who himself is not a chessplayer! Then he showed aptitude and so his father found a famous children teacher.

- His expectations from debut in Corus, Netherlands, and tournament schedule over the next few months.

- Wesley generally has no expectations – he just wants to play as well as he can and develop as much as possible in the next 2 years as he will be going to college after that. He is sure he is a 2600+ player and hopes to get to 2700 after which then he would think seriously of what next. On schedule, he will lead the Philippines team at the Olympiad (we cannot say this but he will play Board 2 to try and score more points for the team since the format is now match points) and there is big 1,000,000 peso event for the top Philippine players in December. Corus is after. He will of course play all the legs of the APAC pro Tour as far as possible – there are 2 legs in the Philippines in April/May. If possible he wants to play Korea Open 3 days after Olympiad.

Wesley So sq

Wesley So (photos by Ozgur Akman)

Career Milestones

2000: Learned to play chess at age 7

2003: Won the first of back to back National Kiddies titles (U-10), played in the World Youth Championship (U-12) in Turkey, his first international event.

2004: Gold at the ASEAN Age Groups Championship and also awarded FM title.

2005: First FIDE rating of 2164, tied for first with three others at World Youth Championship (U-12).

2006: Won National Championship and became an IM with norms achieved in Dubai, San Marino, and Kuala Lumpur where he beat his first GM (Ian Rogers), played as alternate in World Chess Olympiad in Turin, and improved his elo rating to 2451. Then made first GM norm in Germany.

2007: Played in the Asian Zonals in Vietnam, the Asian Cities in Iran, the Asian Individuals in Cebu, Philippines, and on top board at MAIGOC. Gold on Board 1 while leading team to 3rd place in World Youth U-16 Olympiad in Singapore, made second GM norm at World Junior and became a grandmaster with his third and final norm at Pichay Cup in Manila, Philippines and a rating of 2519.

2008: Yet another breakthrough year with a first victory in an international event by wining the Dubai Open (together with his first win against a 2600+ GM), followed by a decisive victory in a match played after against Indonesian GM Susanto Megaranto, and finally an emphatic victory at the Battle of the Grandmasters where his No. 1 status in the Philippines was confirmed. More recently he placed an unbeaten 2nd in National Qualifying for Dresden Chess Olympiad, finished in 9th place in the World Junior, again won Gold on Board 1 to help Philippines to third place in the World Youth Olympiad in Turkey.

We are grateful to Peter Long, Executive Director of the ASEAN Chess Confederation, for kindly allowing us to repost the profile and help in contacting Wesley So with our questions.

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