Most memorable sports stories of 2014 (Part 1)
By Mark Escarlote, ABS-CBN Sports
Posted at 12/30/2014 1:04 PM | Updated as of 12/30/2014 6:05 PM

8. Turncoat

Wesley So, the Philippines’ chess wizard, turned his back from the three stars and a sun flag and decided to hug the stars and stripes of Uncle Sam adding to the country’s never ending brain drain of talents.

The world no. 12 ranked woodpusher with a rating of 2762 caught the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) off guard when he informed them last June in a letter of his intention to play under the US Chess Federation.

His reasons were even more shocking — if not downright insulting — for the NCFP when the 21-year old chess master said that he wanted to vie for a world title and he won’t get it if he stays in the Philippines.

So’s family has permanently moved to Canada and he’s based in the US. So had planned to switch his nationality as early as late last year.

“In the Philippines, there is no serious training system. There are also very few strong tournaments in Asia,” So, who gained grandmaster status at the age of 14, said in an interview during the heat of the controversy.

During his service with the Philippines, So was receiving P40,000 monthly allowance under the PSC’s priority athletes program taken from taxpayers money.

Without So sitting on the top board, the Philippines finished a dismal 46th place in the 41st Tromso, Norway Chess Olympiad four months ago.

Even with distractions, So reaped numerous international chess tournament victories including the Millionaires Chess Open in Las Vegas where he bagged $100,000 and propelled his ranking to no. 10 last month.

After a long delay, NCFP allowed So to enter the USCF rating list last month but has to sit out the next two years under the rules of the World Chess Federation before he can enter the world championship.

Just a week ago, So has decided to drop out of Webster University and moved out of coach Susan Polgar’s camp to pursue his bid to become a world chess champion.

Full article here:

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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