Chess champ pleads with PH chess federation to let him go

By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

June 16, 2014

LAS VEGAS – Filipino chess grandmaster (GM) Wesley So is hoping that the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) will grant his request for a release soon so he can join the United States Chess Federation.

So recently decided to opt out of the main event of the National Chess Open after three days of chess exhibitions at the International Las Vegas Chess Open, deciding instead to play only at the simul and other side events.

When asked about his decision to move to the U.S. Chess Federation, So firstly expressed his gratitude to the NCFP.

“First of all I would like to thank the Philippines and our federation, our chess federation, for all that they have helped me with, financially, training and support,” he said.

But So also noted that the U.S. Chess Federation has a better training support system that will allow him to excel and improve.

“I just want to avoid any politics,” he said. “I am an athlete. I play for the chess. I love the game, and I love my country.”

So is now pleading for his immediate release from the NCFP so he can move on and continue his chess career.

“I just hope they answer positively to my request of letting me change the federation, because otherwise I will have to wait,” he said.

“I let them know my intentions last year,” he added. “I just hope (they respond) positively; otherwise, I have to wait more than a year, or actually, two years.”

Meanwhile, NCFP president Prospero Pichay is surprised and saddened at So’s request, as he believes that the young GM can still achieve his dreams by playing for the Philippines.

Pichay also stressed that the Philippine team did not lack any support, so he has no reason to leave the federation.

In an interview with Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN News, Pichay also pointed out that So has been supported by the federation since he was a young player, and had funded his stints in various tournaments.

Pichay also believes that with his No. 16 world ranking, So is now sure to be invited into the biggest chess tournaments in the world, and thus he does not need to switch to the U.S. federation.

But if So is set on his decision to switch federations, Pichay insists he has to follow the process set by the International Chess Federation or FIDE. — With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News

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