Bambol, Torre respect So citizenship switch

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 10 2014 08:59 AM | Updated as of Jun 10 2014 08:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Chess Federation of the Philippines said it won’t stand in the way of GM Wesley So’s decision to change citizenship and pursue his dream to become a world champion although the final decision still rests on NCFP president Butch Pichay who has thumbed down the player’s transfer request since last year.

“We can’t do anything about it, it’s a family decision and, of course, we cannot give what the United States is offering,” NCFP secretary-general and Tagaytay City Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino told The STAR yesterday.

“It’s really beyond our control,” he added.

Eugene Torre, the face of Philippine chess for a long time who became Asia’s first chess GM in 1974 and made it to the quarterfinals of the World Championship Candidates Matches in 1983, has downplayed So’s decision to change citizenship, saying the 20-year-old whiz would forever be recognized as someone who came from the Philippines.

“We can’t judge him (So) if his ambition is to become a world champion. It’s his personal decision, anyway,” said Torre.

He, however, said it’s time to give in to So’s request.

“The best thing to do right now is to agree to his (So) offer to play for the country one last time in the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway this August and set him free,” Torre said.

“In the end, it will be up to the NCFP leadership to make a final decision on this matter,” he added.

Failure to obtain the NCFP blessing would mean the Webster U standout will have to shell out 50,000 Euros or P3 million to the NCFP or go over the two-year waiting period imposed by the international chess federation FIDE on players opting to change federations. He would also be barred from participating in all FIDE-sanctioned events like the Olympiad and World Championship, thus slowing down his progress.