Wesley So clarifies he won't change citizenship

By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jun 13 2014 05:12 PM | Updated as of Jun 14 2014 03:53 AM

I have nothing against NCFP, says So

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Philippines’ top grandmaster, GM Wesley So, is in Las Vegas to defend his title at the Las Vegas International Chess Open.

So started playing chess at the age of 6, and started competing at the age of 9.

Now, So is turning 21. He juggles his time between studying and competing around the world.

“Well, it’s not really about the ranking for this tournament, it’s not really about the ranking. I’m not sure if I will play in the main event because I’m thinking of just playing in Canada immediately after this event. Pero importante din, kase I’m the defending champion of this event and I want to defend my titles even on the side events,” he said.

So ranks number 19 representing the Philippines at the fédération internationale des échecs or FIDE, the world’s governing body for chess.

“I want to continue improving,” he said. “Right now I’m around top 15 to 20 in the world, top 15. It changes every month, so I want to continue improving.”

So added that he has reached the crucial stage of his career, and he is hoping to be released by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, which he has been representing for over a decade.

“The main point is if I change federation, I will be able to play in US events in strong events. And I feel this will help my career. I have nothing personal against our NCFP or the president (Prospero Pichay), no nothing personal... I am very grateful to them,” he said.

So clarified that he is still Filipino but will be playing for the American team.

“What would this make me, well, first of all, I'll be their number 2 player behind (Hikaru) Nakamura who is the number 7 chess player in the world. And so I’ll be able to work with stronger players. That's one of the things I like when I moved here to the Webster University because and I’m working with strong grandmasters and I’m working with them everyday,” he added.

So said he does not need to be an American citizen to play for the US Chess Federation (USCF) just like his coach Susan Polgar, who is Hungarian but is affiliated with the USCF.

So is scheduled to play in different events over the weekend at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.