Wesley So – An Extraordinary Talent in the History of Chess
As a fan of Wesley So, I feel that he should be starring in a Malcolm Gladwell column, he certainly has that extraordinary talent! Just before a few years, the 23-year Filipino-American was an upcoming tactical, aggressive chess prodigy, supposedly short of the strategic nuances of chess at its highest levels. I remember how I had got the astonishing news that So had ascended to number 9 in world rankings and how I had started trying to attend his every tournament.
Since that moment, So has conquered four top tournaments consecutively, besting Magnus Carlsen, and has got a 56-game non-losing streak, Wesley So’s amazing streak, against extremely high caliber chess players! And lately, he was honored with the best chess player of the last year. So is probably world’s second best player and is most likely to bring down Carlsen from the position of the world champion.
It was a turning point in So’s life when in 2014 he left university and shifted to Minnetonka, Minnesota, for living with his adoptive parents, Renato Kabigting and Lotis Key. Key was a former Filipino film star and now the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild’s Vice President. She also acts as the manager for So and insisted that he should not check the online scores of NBA while getting his chess training. Afterwards So parted from the internet essentially to focus on chess.
One more point for which I love So is that So too loves Las Vegas! I too love this city. So loves it because people here are often drunk and makes them easier to beat!
But what I feel even greater about him is the calm for which he is renowned and his style which has evolved to a point to which there is no style! He just limits the events of mistakes. At the topmost levels, a player with no real style is the one who is tough to train for and tough to beat as well.
So has many other adorable qualities. He is an easygoing, friendly, happy and humble guy, religious and very well-mannered. He is now hoping to learn to drive a car.
So won his first GM norm in Bad Wiessee, Germany, at the Offene Internationale Bayerische Schach Meisterschaft. His second GM norm came in 2007 in Yerevan, Armenia, as a U-20 World Junior Chess Championship. And the 3rd GM was in the Philippines at the 3rd Proepero Pichay Cup International Open. So won the title of Grandmaster by FIDE merely at the age of 14 years with which he became the 9th youngest chess grandmaster. He was then also ranked world’s strongest player under sixteen.
Here are some of his other major achievements (as I love to memorize them):
- At the age of 12, So became the youngest Filipino International Master as well as the youngest member of the team of the national men to take part at the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy, in 2006.
- Just the next year, in 2007, he became the youngest National Junior Open Chess Champion and bagged the gold medal on board one, at the World Under 16 Team Championships.
- 2008 was a year of achievements for So as he won The Sheikh Rashed Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup, the title of the Dubai Open Chess Championships, in the UAE, and created a record as the youngest winner in the Cup’s 10-year history. Just in this year, he was also rated 2610 and became the youngest player in the game’s history to break the 2600 Elo barrier, beating the record formerly held by Magnus Carlsen.
- So also, 2014-15 too brought So major achievements like the 49th Capablanca Memorial tournament in Havana, the first place at the ACP Golden Classic in Bergamo Italy and the first edition of Millionaire Chess, in Las Vegas in 2014, and the 22nd Bunratty Chess Festival, Ireland, the Czech Chess Trophy in a 4-Game Match with GM David Navara and the first place at the Bilbao Chess Masters in Spain in 2015. 2015 was also the year when So became a fulltime professional chess player.
- Even 2016 was a shining year for So, when he was awarded the Samford Chess Fellowship by the US Chess Trust, won the first position in the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis Mo and brought home the first Gold Medal for America since 1976 at the 42nd Olympiad in Baku Azerbaijan.
And guess what! Wesley So has won the US Chess Championship 2017! I was under a tremendous pressure and was excited at the same time until this result came out. My hero has once again proven his potential to become the next World Champion! The heart-stopping two-game, tiebreaking playoff against GM Alexander Onischuk went on at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis on Monday 10th April, 2017, another jewel in So’s crown. Heartiest congratulations, dear Wesley, keep it up!