Thursday, April 20, 2006

12-year-old makes national chess team
By Jimbo Gulle, Sports Editor

He once appeared in a TV commercial for a popular milk brand as a “gifted child.” Now, Wesley So has proved his genius by becoming the youngest member of the national men’s team to the Chess Olympiad.

Only 12 years old, So defeated five other players in a playoff over three days in Tagaytay City to take the last spot on the six-man team heading for the Olympiad in Turin, Italy, next month.

Coming from Bacoor, Cavite, the chess whiz went undefeated in the playoff, scoring two wins against three draws to edge out Rolando Nolte and Roderick Nava for the spot on the team.

He capped his performance by holding Nolte, a former Chess Olympian himself, to a draw in the final round.

Father’s efforts

“Our preparation for the tournament finally bore fruit,” said So’s coach, International Master Richard Bitoon. “But Wesley’s father, William, played a bigger role in this. If it weren’t for his father’s efforts, Wesley would not enjoy the victory he’s savoring today.”

Already a FIDE Master—just one rung under his mentor and two levels below a grandmaster, the top rank of the sport—despite being barely out of grade school, So first made waves internationally when he tied for first in the 12-and-under division of last year’s World Youth Chess Championship in Belfort, France.

Now he joins a former prodigy, grandmaster Mark Paragua, local chess pillars Eugene Torre and Rogelio “Joey” Antonio, reigning National Open champion Darwin Laylo and fellow FIDE Master Oliver Dimakiling on the team that will see action in the 37th Olympiad from May 19 to June 5.

Triumph for age-group campaigners

Torre, Asia’s first grandmaster, hailed So’s achievement as a triumph for the country’s age-group campaigners.

“Wesley’s win will serve as an inspiration for the rest of our young chess players,” said Torre, the former president of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, who also excelled as a youth player.

The rest of the article can be read here. Posted by Picasa

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