One-on-one with Wesley So’s coach
NAGTAPOS sa ikalawang puwesto si Grandmaster Wesley So sa prestihiyosong 9th Edmonton Chess Festival na ginanap kamakailan sa Alberta, Canada. Nasa Top 20 rankings sa buong mundo ngayon si Wesley at sa kagustuhang makapasok sa Top 10 ay hinihiling niyang payagan siya ng National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) na makapaglaro siya para sa koponan ng USA. Sa isang eksklusibong panayam ni Bandera correspondent Eric Dimzon sa tumatayong coach ni So sa US na si Susan Polgar ay inilahad nito ang kanilang plano at saloobin tungkol sa isyu.
When did Wesley So start having problems with the NCFP?
I do not think he has a problem with the NCFP or anyone. Wesley is serious about his chess. He just wants a chance to improve and be the absolute best he can be. This is not a personal issue with the NCFP or anyone in particular.
Do you feel that Wesley So is being punished because he dares to go against the country’s top sports officials?
Right now, there has been no decision by the NCFP or top officials. However, the NCFP should have the official transfer forms already. It is now up to them to make the decision which will clearly affect Wesley’s future, one way or the other. I can only answer this question after they make their decision. But they need to make the decision ASAP.
Is money an issue?
This has nothing to do with the money. This has to do with Wesley wanting a chance to be a chess contender. He simply wants to be in an environment that can give him the best chance.
Can So play for USA?
As of right now, Wesley is playing for no team. He cannot play for the Philippines as that would reset his transfer time by another 2 years. In addition, he already signed a binding contract to coach team USA. Therefore, he cannot play for the Philippines while coaching the US. He also cannot play for the US because the NCFP has not released him yet. In the meantime, he has missed out on several big events already, and will continue to miss more important events until the NCFP releases him or the 2 year waiting period is up.
Why is there a need for Wesley to play for the US?
Because this is a very crucial age for his chess development. Time is the essence. He cannot afford to waste this time. It will severely hamper his chess growth. He cannot do battle and compete on equal footing against other young stars such as Caruana, Nakamura, Giri, etc. and spot them another few years head start. He already did. He should have had proper training and assistance 2-3 years earlier.
What I do not understand is why some people decided to personally attack Wesley and accuse him for being unpatriotic. This is so ridiculous and insulting.
He is simply a 20-year-old kid who loves chess, has a great deal of talent, knows his dreams, wants to fulfill it, and is willing to work hard for it. He is a Filipino by birth and by citizenship. He has always proudly represented his Motherland. There are millions of Filipinos living and working overseas in the US, Canada, UAE, Australia, and many other countries. Are they all unpatriotic? Are they all no longer Filipino at heart?
In addition, Wesley’s family already immigrated to North America several years ago, just as countless other Filipinos. This garbage is not what Wesley needs. Let’s stay on course and focus on the real issues. What he needs now is the right opportunity, a complete peace of mind and the proper support.
Is So still part of the Philippine team?
As of right now, even though the transfer has not been finalized, and Wesley still wears the flag of the Philippines, I believe Mr. (Richie) Garcia said that he has stopped the support.
It is not about getting his dues. Wesley is working very hard on his chess. He needs the right opportunity and right environment to excel.
Do you think that Wesley So has reached his peak as a chess player?
Not at all! He has a lot more to go before he reaches his peak. But the most important factor now is time. He needs to know the decision from the NCFP asap so he can plan his career accordingly. It affects his career each day that this is delayed.
What will make So stay with the NCFP?
Nothing as of right now! The decision has been made. He will either switch now if the NCFP wants to help him grow as they said in the past that they want to see him excel, or he will sit out of official FIDE events for one more year if they want to punish him. The ball is on their court. Once Wesley reaches his ultimate goals, there is a definite possibility that he will switch back. The bottom line is the whole world is watching the decision of the NCFP closely. Do they want to help Wesley and make things easier for him to excel and get to the top as they have always said that they would, or do they want him to waste another valuable year of his chess development? They cannot stop him. They can only delay his chess career by another year.
Any message to sports leaders in the Philippines?
Officials must understand the needs of the players, especially the top ones, and they need to communicate better. Wesley reached out to the NCFP since last November. He is the top player in the Philippines. This could have been resolved 7-8 months ago and it would have helped Wesley’s career. He should be fully focused on his school work and chess, not fighting for his chess life or future. — Eric Dimzon
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