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GM Wesley So still a Filipino

GRANDMASTER Wesley So hasn’t renounced his Filipino citizenship.

The 23-year-old So said this during a break in his games in the ongoing 2017 Tata Steel Chess Masters in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands.

So explained that he only changed his affiliation--a transfer of his credentials from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines to the United States Chess Federation—and not his citizenship.

The world no.3-ranked So explained this after he drew with Baskaran Adhiban in 39 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted in the sixth round, while preparing for his Round-7 encounter with Ukrainian Pavel Eljanov in a game he also drew.

“I changed federation for the same reason the Philippines has millions of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers). I was poor and not related to anyone powerful so I had to take my chances elsewhere. Where would I be if I hadn’t left? Ask Hari Das Pascua, who is still waiting for game results from 2016 to be submitted to FIDE,” said So in an online interview facilitated by former actress Lotis Key-Kabigting with the Manila Standard.

Wesley So
Kabigting, So’s surrogate parent/manager since he officially became part of Team USA in October 2014, took the initiative in relaying So’s message to this writer, while the Filipino GM was busy studying for his game with Eljanov.

So added he has never thought of changing citizenship at this time.

“Will I change citizenship? That is years away from happening if ever,” added So, through Ms. Kabigting.

In Round 7, So drew with Eljanov in 38 moves of a Guioco Piano. 

The game turned drawish even if the black-playing Eljanov found a winning position when his knight captured the queen at h4 on the 34th.

After So replied by capturing the knight, Eljanov checked the king with a rook move to g6. Then, Eljanov seemed to have missed the winning position, according to analyst Daniel Koing at chessbase.com. He accepted a draw when So began controlling the center with his two rooks.

So remains in the solo lead after six rounds with 4.5 points, followed by world no.1 GM Magnus Carlsen and Eljanov in second and third spots with four points.

Levi Aronian, Anish Giri and Wei Yi share fourth to sixth places with 3.5 points.

Carlsen drew with Giri in 122 moves of a London System, while Wei prevailed over Loek Van Wely in 53 moves of a Sicilian Najdorf, and Sergey Karjakin stopped Aronian in 58 moves of a Guioco Piano. 

So wanted to be part of Team USA when he applied for a change of federation with the NCFP in 2013, in accordance with FIDE statutes after playing for Webster University in college back then.

Since NCFP and its incumbent president Prospero Pichay did not act on his application, So availed of a two-year sitout period in order to be part of Team USA.

Topics: Wesley So
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