Pinoy chessers to cheer for So in Online Olympiad

August 20, 2020
Wesley So
Super GM Wesley So (left) with his Kazan Universiade gold medal.

NO more Filipino chessers playing in the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020?

No problem.

Philippine-born super GM Wesley So will be there.

So and the United States will open their much-awaited campaign against Greece in Group D in the FIDE Online Olympiad  2020 starting Friday.

So, the Philippines’ top player until his  sudden defection to the United States due to differences with local sports officials in 2014, will play the top board for the third-seeded American team which will now be obviously the Filipino chess fans’ best bet.

The 27-year-old, Bacoor, Cavite-born Filipino champion, who became the  country’s youngest GM at age 14 during the  Cong. Prospero Pichay Cup International Chess championship in Manila in 2007, will carry the fight for the American team missing its top two players, GMs Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura.

“Kahit wala na mga players natin sa Online Olympiad, nandyan pa naman si Wesley. May aabangan at panonoorin pa din tayo,” remarked one loyal fan in a popular chess club in Novaliches.

“Sana manalo si Wesley par a maibawi nya tayong mga Pilipino sa Olympiad,” he added.
 So, who made history when he captured the country’s first-ever gold medal in the  Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia in 2013, remained one of the more popular players in the country even after his transfer to the United States in 2014.

Before his departure, So represented the country in the World Chess Olympiad four four straight times in 2006 (Turin), 2008 (Dresden), 2010  (Khanty-Mansiysk) and 2012 (Istambul).

He was unbeaten in board one in the last three Olympiads.

After his transfer, So had to sit  out the 2014 Tromso Olympiad to complete the FIDE requirements but served as coach of the American team.

In 2016 Baku Olympiad, So made his debut and played board three behind Caruana and Nakamura. The three led the United States to its first-ever  gold medal since Haifa 1976 and sixth overall.

So also bagged the individual gold medal on board three in the 2016 Baku Olympiad.

In 2018 Batumi Olympiad, So played board two behind Caruana as the United States finished in a three-way tie for first place with eventual champion China and Russia.

The complete groupings:

Group A --  China ( ELO 2595),India (2419), Germany (2419), Vietnam (2359), Georgia  (2354), Iran (2323), Indonesia (2301), Mongolia (2234), Uzbekistan (2159), Zimbabwe (1772).

Group B -- Ukraine (2468), Azerbaijan (2434), Kazakhstan (2395), Netherlands (2387), Spain (2375), Hungary (2347), Slovakia (2267),  Norway (2220), France (2084), South Africa (1928).

Group C -- Russia (2599), Armenia (2453), Romania (2392), Turkey (2387), England (2359),  Croatia (2310), Bulgaria (2276),  Egypt (2261), Algeria  (2062), Morocco (1879).

Group D -- United States (2535), Cuba (2413),Poland (2401), Greece (2381), Italy (2360), Canada (2308), Peru (2252), Argentina (2185), Brazil  (2134), Paraguay (2114).