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So mulls playing for Canada, US

MANILA, Philippines - If the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and the country’s sports leaders would continue giving him a shabby treatment, Grandmaster Wesley So might end up playing for another country.

“All Filipinos should be behind Wesley, he shouldn’t be treated like this,” former five-time women’s world champion Susan Polgar of Hungary, who coaches So at US NCAA Division I chess champion Webster U, yesterday told The STAR via her Twitter account @SusanPolgar.

“Ukraine lost Sergey Karjakin to Russia, the US lost Fabiano Caruana to Italy. I hope the Phl won’t chase Wesley away because of petty politics.

“Many countries would welcome him. But nothing specific so far,” she added.

Polgar was referring to Karjakin and Caruana, who are top class players ranked 10th and sixth in the world with FIDE ratings of 2762 and 2779, respectively.

Polgar was reacting to The STAR’s story where So’s vehemently debunked the NCFP’s claim that he had already given his word to play in the 27th Southeast Asian Games set Dec. 12-22 in Myanmar because he had signed a contract with the NCFP, the Phl Olympic Committee and Phl Sports Commission to represent the country, including the SEAG.

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“I was surprised to read that the NCFP was claiming I have agreed to play in the SEA Games,” said So.

He stressed he had always represented the country in all tournaments that he participated in, including the Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia last July where he won a gold medal.

“It says represent the Phl on national events. But I always represent Phl – in every event,” said So.

Ironically, the Universiade gold was never recognized by the NCFP, the POC nor the PSC.

Polgar also questioned So’s contract that was recently raised by NCFP executive director GM Jayson Gonzales.

“Does the contract state specifically SEAG or just represent the Phl. He has final exams and can’t miss that many days,” said Polgar. “The question is does his federation want him to succeed in life and in chess? He’s working hard everyday.

“Wesley is proud to represent the Phl, but he’s not willing to fail his classes,” she added.

Canada is one of the possible destinations of So should he decide to change nationality since his parents and two sisters have been living in Toronto for over five years now.

So can apply and obtain Canada citizenship if he could stay there for a few months every year or play for the United States where he will also be near his family.

The chess whiz, however, hasn’t decided on whether to live full-time in Canada or US after his studies.

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