GM Wesley So to give up Filipino citizenship, to play chess for US

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Filipino Chess Grandmaster Wesley So applied for US citizenship and wants to play for United States Chess Federation (USCF).

GM So, a member of National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), is giving up his Filipino citizenship to pursue his dreams - to be a top 10 player in the world and to become a world champion.

According to a blog post of his coach Susan Polgar, So wrote NCFP President Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. last year to allow him to switch federation.

Polgar is a Chess Grandmaster. She is the winner of four Women’s World Championships, the only World Chess Champion in history to win the triple-crown (Blitz, Rapid and Classical World Championships), a five-time Olympic Champion and 2006 Women’s Chess Cup Champion.

GM Polgar is also the head coach for the 2013 and 2014 National Championship teams at Webster University, where GM Wesley So is one of the members of the team.

GM So came to Webster University in August 2012 with a rank of 99 in the world. After a more than a year training with Susan, he shot up to top 15 after ruling the Capablanca Memorial Chess tournament in Havana, Cuba last month.

Currently ranked 15th in the world, GM So became the highest rating ever reached by a Filipino in the World Chess Federation (FIDE) since it joined in 1956.

Back to the letter of GM So, according to Business Mirror report, the NCFP declined to grant So’s request forcing him to follow FIDE procedures and not compete in official FIDE events.

As in the case now, the Bacoor, Cavite-born GM So has left two options:

  1. To pay the NCFP € 50,000 euros as stated in the FIDE registration, transfer and rules of eligibility
  2. If he does not have the money to pay the transfer fee of € 50,000 euros or $68,200 US Dollars more or less, he will sit out for two years and will not be able to play and represent Philippines in official FIDE Events like World Chess Olympiad, World Cup, World Cup Qualifications like the Zonals, Candidates Masters, Fide Grand Prix Series, World Rapid and Blitz Championship, ASEAN or ASIAN games and any other FIDE events.

Meanwhile here’s the complete letter of Wesley So to NCFP President Prospero Pichay as posted in Coach Polgar’s blog:

Dear Cong Pichay,

I would like to share my thoughts about changing federations. I hope you have the time to read my letter. I appreciate your understanding in advance.

First of all, I would like to thank you for your past support. I am proud to be Filipino, and I will always be a Filipino at heart. I will never forget where I came from.

However, circumstances have changed. My family has permanently moved to Canada. I now live and attend school full time in the United States (at Webster University). I plan to reside permanently here. This is where I will have the opportunity to improve my chess, and make a decent living as a professional player. I want to be able to play in top level tournaments ... to get to the next level.

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.

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. 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 2-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.

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.

Thank you!


Respectfully yours,
Wesley So

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