There is a glimmer of hope that someday, Grandmaster Wesley So could represent the Philippines in international competitions.
So, who has been playing for the United States since 2014, said he is keeping his doors open regarding this scenario.
“Who knows? I do love the Filipino people. But who knows what the future will bring? Hard enough to live from day to day,” So said when asked about this possibility in an email interview with the Manila Bulletin.
For now, he is content in improving his game, and has been showcasing his prowess after winning his second US Championships title recently.
The 27-year-old Cavite-born So dominated that field, with fans and commentators comparing his performance with Bobby Fischer’s in the 1960s.
So was content on getting the trophy twice and in two different time controls, but being mentioned alongside his favorite player “is beyond even my dreams.”
At the moment, So is currently competing in the 2020 Speed Chess Championships and is also busy preparing for the upcoming Champions Chess Tour starting with the opening tournament, Skilling Open scheduled on Nov. 22 to 30.
The tournament was said to be the biggest, richest and most prestigious event in online chess, staking $1.5 million total cash purse.
According to https://championschesstour.com/, some of the world’s best players have confirmed participation, including world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, China’s Ding Liren, Armenia’s Levon Aronian, Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtichi and Sergey Karjakin, France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vietnam’s Liem Quang Le, Netherlands’ Anish Giri, Poland’s Jan-Kryzysztof Duda, India’s Vidit Gujrathi, Spain’s David Anton Guijarro and Azerbaijan’s Teimour Radjabov.
So said he is grateful to be part of this invitational event not because of the monetary prize, but that chance to clash with the world’s best.
“I have played in many rich tournaments and so the money doesn’t motivate me as much as just being able to play with the best players in the world. Those are experiences you cannot buy,” So said.
So, however, admitted competing online due to the pandemic situation is something they have to continue to adjust.
“Playing serious tournaments online is a whole new world for most professional players and everyone is on the same learning curve. Over the board is a very different chess game due in large part to the time control. [But] we all are trying to learn this new way overnight and some will get it and some won’t,” he said.
“I personally don’t think it is a particularly good judge of elite chess players because they have trained all their lives to play chess with a lot of careful thought and of course a faster time control encourages just the opposite.”
Despite these adjustments, So learns to slow down – in life in general.
“This year of the pandemic, my whole philosophy has been to slow down and think life through more carefully. In this business, making a living means constantly traveling from one tournament to the next. I was playing so much I think I burned myself out. There was never any time to rest,” he said.
“With the pandemic this year, my body finally was forced to slow down. I got baptized this year and while chess is my career and I want to be excellent at it… life is bigger than chess. I want to do well but more, I want to please God and be a good man first.”