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PHL loses chess whiz Wesley So to the US

June 10, 2014 1:49pm

The Philippines has lost an international chess master in Grandmaster Wesley So, who has moved to the United States to study at Webster University, and could soon represent it in international competitions.

So had written the National Chess Federation of the Philippines to inform it of his plans to move to the US Chess Federation, GMA News TV's "News to Go" reported Tuesday.

In his letter, So said he would have a greater chance of being among the world's top 10 chess players.

However, the report said the NCFP allegedly ignored So's letter.

On the other hand, the "News to Go" report said the NCFP claimed So had not personally furnished it a copy of his letter, adding they could have worked out the matter.

Letter ignored?

On Sunday, Hungarian-born American chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar, So’s coach at Webster University, posted on her blog a letter by So to the NCFP indicating his plans.

Polgar added that while So offered last year to represent the Philippines for the last time at the Olympiad in Tromsø if the NCFP allows him to switch federations after the Olympiad, his letter was virtually ignored.

"This offer was not accepted [ignored]. Therefore, Wesley had to follow proper FIDE procedures by filing the necessary paperwork, and not competing in official FIDE events for two years. Because of this, he will not be able to play for the Philippines in Norway," she said.

Polgar said So "heard nothing" from NCFP President, former Rep. and defeated senatorial bet Prospero Pichay Jr.

In his letter as posted on Polgar's blog, So told Pichay about his plans to change federations even if he is "proud to be Filipino, and I will always be a Filipino at heart."

So said his family has permanently moved to Canada and he now lives and attends school full time in the United States at Webster University. He plans to reside permanently there.

"This is where I will have the opportunity to improve my chess, and make a decent living as a professional player. I want to be able to play in top level tournaments ... to get to the next level," he said.

He also said he had filed the paperwork to switch federations to the US last year. "I respectfully ask that you grant me this opportunity and consent my transfer.

"If you choose not to approve my transfer request, I have no way of paying the 50,000 euros fees to the NCFP. Therefore, I will have no choice but to sit out another year to fulfill my full two year waiting period so no transfer fees are needed. This will not benefit the NCFP at all. However, it will severely slow down my progress by not being able to play in official FIDE events such as the World Cup, World Blitz and Rapid Championships, etc. I will be forced to miss the next World Championship cycle," he said.

"This is not an easy decision. But it is the best decision for me to have a chance to be a top 10 player in the world, and perhaps one day fight for the World Championship crown. I hope you will support my decision and allow me to make this change immediately so I can have a chance to chase my dream without losing more valuable time at this very important age," he added.

Agonizing personal decision

Polgar noted the deadline to register for the Tromsø Olympiad was June 1, 2014.

"Wesley takes his chess very seriously and he cannot afford to let his career flounder without any communication or direction from his national federation. Because of this, he told me that a move had to be made. By writing this letter, Wesley hopes that the NCFP will not stand in the way and delay his progress toward the top 10. For his sake, I hope so too," she wrote.

Polgar added this "was an agonizing personal decision for Wesley" but said "it had to be done."

"He really wanted to represent the Philippines one last time. But it was not meant to be as he did not receive the green light from the NCFP in consenting the switch. Now that the deadline has past, it is too late. Wesley went on to make other chess commitments," she said. - Joel Locsin / AMD, GMA News
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