MANILA, Philippines – Wesley So, the world’s youngest grandmaster, was more than willing to accept the challenge of facing a highly rated opponent.
He initiated it.
When the country found out who its next opponent will be at the resumption of the 38th World Chess Olympiad, the 14-year-old So asked the more senior members of the RP team if he could be pitted against Super GM Alexei Shirov of Spain. Non-playing team captain Eugene Torre and GM Bong Villamayor obliged.
“It’ll be exciting to play Alexei,” So, who be taking Villamayor’s place on Board One to face Shirov, said. “It’ll be a nice opportunity to take on one of the best players in the world on this stage.
Barring any last-minute changes in the roster, powerhouse Spain will field an all-GM lineup versus So and the Philippines. Both countries were in a huge group with 7.0 points before the first break in the tournament Tuesday.
Versus Spain, So will be with a youthful cast composed of GMs Jayson Gonzales and Darwin Laylo and International Master John Paul Gomez.
The Filipinos have beaten Algeria (2.5-1.5), Monaco (2.5-2.5) and Iran (2.5-1.5), drew with Greece (2.0-2.0) and lost to China (1.5-2.5).Gomez, a three-time national juniors champion, has been the Filipinos’ leading scorer with 4.0 points on three wins and two draws.
So was second with 3.0 points on two wins and two draws, followed by Laylo with 2.5 points on two wins, one draw and one loss. Villamayor follows with two draws and two losses, and Gonzales with one draw and two losses.
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