MANILA, Philippines – Eugene Torre, Asia’s first chess grand master (GM), is supporting GM Wesley So in his quest to switch federations as he believes the young chess player will always remain a Filipino in his heart.
It was revealed this week that the 20-year-old So is working towards gaining membership in the United States Chess Federation (USCF) in order to pursue his dreams of becoming a world champion.
"Si Wesley kasi ang nakaka-alam what is best for him," Torre said. "Hindi natin alam 'yung overall picture, and I'm sure Wesley has analyzed that this is best for him."
"I believe in Wesley's decision," he added.
So said the lack of a training system in the Philippines is what forced him to pursue a switch in federations, especially if he wants to continue to rise in the world rankings.
"At this stage of my career, I need to have serious training and have the opportunity to compete in level appropriate events in order to improve," said So.
Torre said he understands So’s situation as the player is now at a stage where he can realistically aim to be a world champion.
"No matter how small the possibility is, nakuha mo na 'yung right na maging ambitious," Torre explained, noting that So has now reached the top 16 in the world rankings.
"We have to give all the support to Wesley, because this is a Herculean task, to become a world champion," said Torre.
"Sabi niya (he is aiming for) the Top 10 lang muna, and then hopefully, maging challenge. But to become a world champion ang maging target mo eventually, it is a monstrous task. Hindi biro-biro ito," he added.
Torre believes that at the end of the day, even if So does wind up changing federations, in his heart he will always be a Filipino.
"Regardless kung ano 'yung federation na nire-represent niya, hindi na importante 'yun. Ang importante ay Filipino pa rin siya at ipinagmamalaki niya. 'Yun ang importante," said the grandmaster.
"Ginamit niya lang 'yung utak niya in switching federations, pero 'yung puso niya ay nasa Pilipinas pa naman." -- From a report by Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News