MANILA, Philippines — Wesley So, a Philippine-born chess player who is now representing the United States, believes Filipinos have a strong chance in excelling in the sport than in ball games.
“Filipinos should play chess. Our natural ability is not for foreign ball sports,” said the 27-year-old So in his message during the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines’ online drafting last Sunday.
So had actually walked the talk after he took the world champion in Fischer Random last year, claimed his second US crown last October and slew reigning world standard, rapid and blitz champion Magnus Carlsen a month ago.
The country had also produced a world champion for the physically disabled in Sander Severino this year and world kiddies blitz champion in Mark Paragua two decades ago.
“Our natural, God-given ability is in the way we use our brains. Who is more resourceful, creative, innovative and imaginative than the Filipinos,” said So. “Who manages to survive no matter what the world throws at him? Who is consistently devising plans to win?
“No one can guarantee if you train in chess you will become a Grandmaster or you will go on to make a living at this sport. But I can guarantee this: If you train you train your brain with chess, you will go much farther ahead in life, than if you train only your body for other physical sports,” he added.
So also lauded the PCAP, chaired by Michael Angelo Chua with Atty. Paul Elauria as commissioner, for coming up with a novel idea of establishing the country’s first pro chess league.
“I was excited as well as surprised when I heard about the formation of the PCAP. It takes such courage and stamina to start thinking differently in an arena where thinking has been characterized by complacency and status quo,” said So.
Meanwhile, nine GMs headed by living legend Eugene Torre, who was tabbed by Rizal, were among the 96 picked by 24 participating teams in the league that unfurls on January 12 next year.
Other GMs chosen were Joey Antonio (Iloilo), Julio Catalino Sadorra (Manila), Mark Paragua (Camarines), John Paul Gomez (Cabuyao), Darwin Laylo (Pasig) Banjo Barcenilla (Cabuyao), Oliver Barbosa (San Juan) and Roland Salvador (Pasig).
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