Monday, November 30, 2009

Young Filipino GM Wesley So sends shock waves in 2009 World Chess Cup


WESLEY So. Filipino. 16-year grandmaster currently ranked 7 among world junior players. Seventh youngest ever grandmaster in the world at 14. Youngest ever national champion of the Philippines. Youngest ever Philippine chess Olympian at age 13 (2006 Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain). Winner of 2009 Corus Group C tournament.

He made the world took notice of his resounding wins over elite grandmasters in the second and third round of the 2009 World Chess Cup.

The Chess Connoisseur traces his Cup trek so far.

Defeated GM Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan, 4-1, in Round 1 (21-23 November). He won the first but lost the second of the normal time-control games. Won three straight games of the four rapid tie-break games.

Proceeded to Round 2 (64 participants remaining, 24-26 November). Registered a shocking and surprising win, 1.5-0.5, over the famous super GM Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine—the defeated 2001 FIDE world championship finalist; winner of various super tournaments and matches. Ivanchuk, having the white pieces in the first game, rejected a possible perpetual check and went all out for a win that backfired on him. He was not able to equalize in the second game and was out of the World Cup with a figurative thud that reverberated through the chess world.

Wesley proceeded to Round 3 (32 participants remaining, 27-29 November). Registered another shocking win over super GM Gata Kamsky of USA, the event’s defending champion; conqueror of So’s compatriot GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr (1.5-0.5) in round 1 and Chinese GM Zhou Weiqi (1.5-0.5) in round 2. So, playing black, outclassed Kamsky, himself a former chess prodigy and a defeated world championship challenger who admittedly chose the wrong openings, in the first game, a French Defense, and held the second game, a Dutch Defense opening, to send the latter home.

With outright wins in his two-game mini-matches in rounds 2 and 3, Wesley avoided playing tie-break matches and got two ‘free’ days for rest and preparation after each mini-match. He is now among the remaining 16 participants of the initial 128 entries. Will proceed to round 4 (30 November-2 December).

Already his present achievements have far exceeded all expectations from his home country, the Philippines. Still hopes are high that he can cash in on his winning momentum. The World Cup organizers already acknowledge his talent and potential in an article titled ‘There is a new rising star in Khanty Mansiysk?’ Read it here.

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