PH GM Wesley So seeks US citizenship

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 09 2014 07:31 AM | Updated as of Jun 09 2014 03:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Wesley So is giving up his Filipino citizenship to pursue his dreams of becoming a world champion.

In a letter to National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Butch Pichay, So bared his plans of changing allegiance and had, in fact, already applied for US citizenship last year.

“I have filed the paperwork to switch federation to the US last year. I respectfully ask that you grant me this opportunity and consent my transfer,” said So in his letter to the NCFP posted on the blog site of his coach, Susan Polgar, yesterday.

So has made it to the Top 15 in the world after ruling the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba last month.

“This is not an easy decision. But it is the best decision for me to have a chance to be a top 10 player in the world, and perhaps one day fight for the World Championship crown.

“I hope you will support my decision and allow me to make this change immediately so I can have a chance to chase my dream without losing more valuable time at this very important age,” said So.

But Pichay is expected to again reject So’s request, as he has continued to resist the grandmaster’s transfer request since last year.

This means So will have to pay 50,000 euros to NCFP or undergo the two-year waiting period imposed by the international chess federation FIDE on players opting to change federations.

This would mean So would not be able to participate in any FIDE-sanctioned events, including this year’s World Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway where he is expected to man the top board.

“If you choose not to approve my transfer request, I have no way of paying the 50,000 euros fees to the NCFP. Therefore, I will have no choice but to sit out another year to fulfill my full two-year waiting period so no transfer fees are needed,” said So.

“This will not benefit the NCFP at all. However, it will severely slow down my progress by not being able to play in official FIDE events such as the World Cup, World Blitz and Rapid Championships, etc. I will be forced to miss the next World Championship cycle.

“Because of the two-year waiting period rule of FIDE, I am not able to compete in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Dubai next week. I will also not be able to compete in the upcoming Olympiad in Norway,” he added.