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Inspirational Articles


The Discovery

Wesley Barbara So, born October 9 1993, was the world's eighth youngest Grandmaster (GM) in history at the age of 14. He was born in Cavite, Philippines to parents William and Eleanor So. His father taught him how to play chess when he was 7 and started to play in junior chess tournaments at the age of 9. It was then that his skillfulness grabbed the attention of former international chess master, Rodolfo Tan Cordoso. As quoted from Rodolfo Tan Cordoso, ‘He was then a young lad who would sacrifice a queen or any other pieces in his arsenal to get a winning attack.’

The Rise to Grandmaster

In 2006 when he was still 12 years old, he achieved his very first International Master (IM) norm at the 8th Dubai Open. In the same year, he was part of the national men's team that participated in the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy and was thus the youngest chess Olympian. In June and August the same year, Wesley So won the best player award for those under 16 in the 2nd San Marino Open and 2nd IGB Dato' Arthur Tan Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur respectively. Completing the IM requirements, Wesley So was awarded the IM title by FIDE at a young age of 12 years, 10 months and 13 days. In 2006, his rating jumped from 2216 to 2450.

In November of 2006, Wesley So earned his first GM norm at the Offene Internationale Bayerische Schaha Meisterschaft in Bad Wiessee, Germany. He also earned the Creativity award in the same competition. He then obtained his second GM norm at the World Junior Chess Championship, which was held in Yerevan, Armenia in September of 2007. Wesley So completed his 3rd and final GM norm at the December 2007 Pichay Cup International Chess Tournament, where he finished with a score of 6/9 and 6 draws against 6 GM players. Wesley So was the seventh youngest in history to achieve the GM title, doing so at the age of 14 years, 7 months and 28 days.

The Future World Chess Champion

At the 2012 Quebec International Open, Wesley So clinched the first place with a score of 7.5/9. His first place with Pavel Eljanov and Amin Bassem at the 2013 Reykjavik Open in Iceland made him achieve his goal of reaching a rating of over 2700. Wesley So won the Philippines’ first ever gold at the 2013 Summer Universiade, which was held in Kazan, Russia. While at the 49th Capablanca Memorial, which took place from 8th to 18 May 2014 in Havana, he successfully won the first place, scoring 6.5/10 ahead of Lazaro Bruzon. He also obtained a clear first place with a score of 4.5/6 at the 2nd ACP Golden Classic in Italy, where he had a Tournament Performance Rating (TPR) of 2844. He therefore earned a rating of +7, 6, placing him 12th in the world ranking with an increased standard rating of 2755.

Wesley So has moved permanently to the United States as being in the United States Chess Federation (USCF) would give him more opportunities to better his skills and consequently increase his world ranking. He has however failed to make the switch from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), the governing chess organization of the Philippines.

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