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W So 
Photograph courtesy of Lotis Key.  
Wesley So
Number of games in database: 554
Years covered: 2003 to 2015
Last FIDE rating: 2788 (2635 rapid, 2726 blitz)
Overall record: +219 -54 =256 (65.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      25 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (58) 
    B90 B42 B67 B33 B21
 Ruy Lopez (33) 
    C67 C89 C69 C78 C65
 French Defense (19) 
    C11 C18 C10 C00 C17
 King's Indian (17) 
    E99 E60 E92 E83 E62
 Sicilian Najdorf (16) 
    B90 B93 B96 B97 B99
 Grunfeld (15) 
    D70 D85 D81 D94 D78
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (77) 
    B33 B30 B32 B40 B31
 Slav (25) 
    D11 D15 D12 D10 D17
 Grunfeld (23) 
    D85 D86 D70 D93 D83
 Nimzo Indian (17) 
    E32 E34 E41 E53 E21
 French Defense (16) 
    C11 C07 C05 C18 C13
 Queen's Indian (15) 
    E15 E12
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   W So vs M Mahjoob, 2007 1-0
   Z Almasi vs W So, 2014 0-1
   W So vs M Prusikin, 2006 1-0
   W So vs Shirov, 2011 1-0
   W So vs F Vallejo Pons, 2014 1-0
   W So vs M Leon Hoyos, 2009 1-0
   Ivanchuk vs W So, 2015 0-1
   W So vs Ni Hua, 2008 1-0
   W So vs F El Taher, 2006 1-0
   Ivanchuk vs W So, 2009 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Corus (Group C) (2009)
   Reykjavik Open (2013)
   Millionaire Chess (2014)
   Bunratty Chess Festival (2015)
   Dubai Open (2008)
   Tata Steel (2015)
   9th Edmonton International (2014)
   Universiade (2013)
   Tata Steel (Group B) (2011)
   French Team Championship (2012)
   World Junior Championship (2008)
   World Cup (2009)
   World Junior Championship (2007)
   8th Asian Continental Chess Championship (2009)
   Olympiad (2008)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   wesley so and other gm s well games by DIONPOGIME
   WESLEY SO's best games by iking
   Wesley So's best games by shintaro go
   Match So! by amadeus
   RPaterno1's favorite games ("Ramon's Lab") by RPaterno1
   World Cup 2009 by GM Wesley So by LaFreak III
   Manuel G. Vergara's favorite games by Manuel G. Vergara
   2008 WYCO U-16 by gauer
   2003 WYCC (open) U-10 by gauer
   2011 Toronto Wesley So 13-player simul by gauer

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Wesley So
Search Google for Wesley So
FIDE player card for Wesley So

(born Oct-09-1993, 21 years old) Philippines (citizen of United States of America)

[what is this?]
Born in Las Pinas to William and Eleanor So, and brought up in Bacoor, Cavite, Wesley So is a Filipino chess prodigy who is the eighth youngest player to attain the Grandmaster (GM) in history, achieving the GM title at the age of 14 years, 1 month and 28 days. This made him the youngest GM in the world at that time.* He was the Philippines’ youngest ever International Master, youngest ever Grandmaster and the youngest ever National Champion.


Wesley So’s father taught him the moves at the age of seven. He started playing rapid tournaments when he was eight and was competing in junior tournaments at age nine. The ferocity of Wesley's play in the latter attracted the attention of Radolfo Tan Cardoso. * He was awarded the FIDE Master title in 2004 when he was 11 and International Master in 2006 when still 12. In 2013, he moved to live and study in the USA at Susan Polgar's chess academy in the University of Webster in Texas, and in 2014 he officially shifted his chess affiliation to the USA. He is now officially the USA's #2 player, as well as the #2 player in the Americas.


<Age> In 2003, So became the Philippines U10 Champion. He has competed in World Youth Championships in 2003 (19th in the U10 division), 2004 (14th in the U12 division) and 2005 (=1st in the U12 division). In the 2005 event held in Belfort, he finished equal first in his age group alongside Srinath Narayanan, Sanan Sjugirov and Samvel Ter-Sahakyan with Narayanan taking the title on tiebreak. On 9 May 2007, So won the National Junior Championship at the age of 13 years, 7 months, the youngest to do so until FM Paulo Bersamina won the 2010 edition of that event while still 12. So earned his 2nd GM norm in September 2007, shortly before he turned 14, at the World Junior Championship (2007) (his 1st GM norm being in Germany soon after he turned 13 – see below in the classical tournaments section) held in Yerevan, Armenia.

<National> So holds the record for the youngest National Champion of the Philippines, first winning the title in 2009 at the age of 15 years, 6 months. He also won the Philippines Championship in 2010 and 2011 after coming second in 2008 and first in the "Battle of the Grandmasters' event in 2008. Starting from 2009, the "Battle of the Grandmasters", previously a separate event, also became the national championship.

<Continental> In September 2007 while still 13, Wesley played in the Asian Individual Championship (2007) that was held in Cebu and scored a par for rating 6/11, drawing against four GMs and losing to one. He scored a modest 6.5/11 at the 8th Asian Continental Chess Championship (2009) held in Subic Bay but came 2nd by a half point behind Ni Hua in the 9th Asian Continental Championship held in April 2010 to qualify for participation in the 2011 World Cup. He scored 5.5/9, placing =9th in the 10th Asian Individual Championships (2011) in Iran. In May 2012, he played in the Asian Continental Chess Championship (2012) scoring 6/9 and placing =4th (8th on tiebreak).

<World> In early 2007, he scored 5.5/9 at the Zonal 3.3, narrowly missing both a GM norm and qualification for the World Chess Cup (2007). After qualifying in early 2009 by coming 2nd behind Darwin Laylo in the 3.3 Zonal held in Ho Chi Minh City, Wesley made a splash at the World Cup (2009) by defeating Gadir Guseinov, Vassily Ivanchuk and Gata Kamsky in the first three rounds before falling to Vladimir Malakhov in the rapid game tiebreaker during the round of 16. He defeated Chinese GM Ding Liren in the first round of the World Cup (2011) but lost the second round in a hard fought rapid-game tiebreaker to then Russian number 1 and world number 5 GM Sergey Karjakin. So placed 2nd at the Asian 3.3 Zonal held in January 2013 and thereby qualified for the World Cup (2013) where he defeated the 2012 Junior World Champion, Ukrainian-Turkish GM Alexander Ipatov in the first round but lost to Russian GM and eventual semi-finalist Evgeny Tomashevsky in the second round.

Classical Tournaments

So’s first foray into the international arena was at the 12th International Open held in Nice in 2005, where he scored 5/7, placing =8th (9th on tiebreak) and adding 35 points to his rating. He finished 2005 at the Singapore International Masters Open, winning the award for the best U12 in the competition and gaining another 37 rating points. In April 2006, he earned his first International Master norm at the powerful 8th Dubai Open (2006) when he scored 5/9. A few weeks later, still 12 years old, he was selected to play in the 2006 Olympiad at Torino (see below). Wesley’s second and third IM norms followed in rapid succession at the 2nd San Marino Open (5.5/9) in June 2006, where he also won the award for the best player under 16, and in August 2006 at the 3rd IGB Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open Chess Championship in Kuala Lumpur (6.5/11), where he again won the award for the best player U16. At the age of 12 years, 10 months and 13 days, So became the youngest Filipino to achieve the IM title.

So achieved his first GM norm at the Bavarian International Open in Bad Wiessee, Germany in November 2006. Following an average performance at the 3rd Calvia International Open in October 2006, Wesley narrowly missed another GM norm at the GM Tournament in Manila the following month, but won the powerful Prospero Pichay Cup in December 2006. A few days later, Wesley competed in the 3rd Singapore Masters International Open, placing =10th with a score of 6/9, including wins against GMs Susanto Megaranto and Li Shilong. Following his relative success at the Zonal 3.3 – qualifying for the 2007 World Cup but narrowly missing a GM norm - in January 2007 (see above), Wesley performed on par at the Philippines International Open in Subic Bay in April 2007, then came second at the Selection Tournament for 2nd Asian Indoor Games held in Tagaytay in August 2007. So capped his year by earning his third GM norm, and the title, at the 3rd Prospero Pichay Cup International Open in Parañaque City, Philippines in December 2007, scoring 6/9, including five draws against his five GM opponents. When he earned his title, he became the seventh-youngest GM ever, and the youngest-ever Filipino GM.

The year 2008 began with a modest 4th at the 1st Leg of the ASEAN Circuit Tournament 2008 (GM Section A) in Kalimantan, he won the Mayor Allen Singson Open Chess Tourney in Candon City and then the Dubai Open (2008) in the United Arab Emirates with a score of 7/9 (TPR 2708), besting an international field that included 23 other grandmasters. In April, he won the “Battle of the Grandmasters” with 8.5/11 (including wins against Rogelio Antonio Jr and Buenaventura Bong Villamayor and a draw against Eugenio Torre) and a match against Susanto Megaranto (details immediately below in the matches section). In May, he came =2nd with 6.5/9 in the 1st Subic International Open, half a point behind Jayson Gonzales. In July 2008, he came second with 12.5/17 in the National qualifying tournament for the Dresden Olympiad held in November, represented Philippines in that Olympiad, placed =5th in the 4th Prospero Pichay Jr. Cup International played in Manila in September, and won the gold medal (+4 =3) for the top board playing for his club Tagaytay city in the Asian Club Cup. In 2009 he won Corus (Group C) (2009) with 9.5/13, one point ahead of fellow prodigy Anish Giri, but then had an average result of 5/9 at Aeroflot Open (2009) before scoring a stunning 9/11 in March at the Battle of the GMs held in Dapitan City. An ordinary 4.5/10 at the SPICE Cup (2009) in Lubbock, Texas was followed by his remarkable debut in the World Cup (see above). 2010 saw him securing a reasonably successful result at Corus (B Group) (2010) where he came 4th with 7.5/13 and at Aeroflot Open (2010), scoring =7th in a huge field of GMs and IMs. His success in the 9th Asian Continental (see above) was followed by winning the 3rd Battle of the Grandmasters in Tagaytay City with 7.5/11. His subsequent results during 2010 were average to ordinary by his standards, although he finished with good results in the preliminary rounds of the Asian Teams Championship in November.

The start of 2011 saw him place =4th in the Tata Steel (Group B) (2011) with a creditable 7.5/13, a point shy of the lead, while his subsequent participation in the Aeroflot Open (2011) was cut short after six rounds due to his withdrawal from the event because of exhaustion. Despite that, he achieved excellent results in the blitz event held after the tournament and in the 17th Asian Cities tournament held in Jakarta a few months later (see below in Team Play). In June 2011, he came =1st alongside Giri and Hans Tikkanen at the 19th Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament (2011) in Sweden. His results thereafter, until the 2012 Quebec Open (see below) essentially maintained parity with his rating, including 5/10 at the Airports Authority of India (2011) in New Delhi also in June, 9/13 at the Philippine Championship (although he placed first), 6.5/9 in the Indonesian Open, 2nd at the 26th SEA Games 2011 in Indonesia, his drawn match in Illinois against Meier (see below), and his 6/9 at the Asian Continental Chess Championship (2012) where he just missed qualifying for the 2013 World Cup. He scored outright first at the Quebec Invitational Open 2012 with 7.5/9 (TPR 2789), a half point clear of Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon. In July 2012, he maintained rating parity by placing =3rd (3rd on tiebreak), behind Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov and US GM Alexander Shabalov in the World Open held in Philadelphia in the USA and by winning the 2012 Toronto International Crown. His 5/10 at the SPICE Cup (2012) was basically par for rating. Several months later, an excellent =1st (2nd behind Pavel Eljanov), with 8/10 at the powerful Reykjavik Open (2013) enabled So's rating to surpass 2700 for the first time. In May 2013, So won the 2013 Calgary International Chess Classic with a round to spare with a final score of 8/9 after winning the preliminary blitz bout with 9/9. In June 2013, So participated in and placed =1st (winning on tiebreak) with 5/6 in the 2013 Las Vegas International Open alongside Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez; Webster colleague and Mexican #1, Manuel Leon Hoyos; Jaan Ehlvest and Varuzhan Akobian. In July 2013, Wesley So won the gold medal at the Universiade (2013) and in October 2013, he won the 6 round DRR category 18 Unive Crown Group (2013) with a round to spare. In April 2014, he was =1st at the 2014 Bill Wright Saint Louis Open.

So's inaugural participation in a super tournament was at the category 20 Tata Steel (2014). He finished with a solid 6/11 (+3 -2 =6), placing =4th behind Levon Aronian, Anish Giri and Sergey Karjakin respectively, and 6th on tiebreak behind Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez Perez. His next super tournament participation was a stunning success when he won the category 19 49th Capablanca Memorial (2014) outright with 6.5/10, a clear point ahead of second placed Lazaro Bruzon, notching a 2829 TPR. In June, he secured 2nd place behind Ivanchuk at the Edmonton International with a score of 7.5/9, a roughly par-for-rating outcome. The following month in July 2014, he participated in the category 17 round-robin ITT ACP Golden Classic tournament, in Italy, winning by a clear point with 4.5/6, thereby lifting his standard rating to an all time high, while in October he won the Millionaire Chess (2014), pushing his rating and ranking to another all time high. He continued his upward trajectory in January 2015 when he participated in the Tata Steel (2015), placing =2nd with 8.5/13, half a point behind the winner Magnus Carlsen, and ultimately placing 4th on tiebreak behind co-runners up in scoring, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri. This last result as elevated him to #1 player in the USA and the Americas in FIDE's February 2015 rating list.


At the Japfa Chess Festival 2008 held in Jakarta in April 2008, So played the six-game Japfa Match (2008) against Indonesian GM Megaranto and won by 6-4 (+3 =3). In March 2012 in Skokie, Illinois, USA, he played and drew a four-game match (=4) with German GM Georg Meier.

Team Play

So won a Team Silver Medal and an Individual Gold Medal in the 6th ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championship held in 2004 in Vung Tau in Vietnam. He also won an Individual Gold Medal at the 7th ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championship held in 2005 in Pattaya in Thailand. In August 2007, he won the gold medal for first board for the Philippines at the World Under-16 Olympiad with a phenomenal score of 9.5/10. In 2006, at the age of 12 he became the youngest ever member of the national men's team to participate at the 37th Chess Olympiad (2006), scoring a creditable 3/5 on the reserve board. In March 2007, So won the gold medal playing board 3 after scoring 7.5/9 for Tagaytay – which came second in a field of 18 city teams - in the Asian Cities Team Championship held in Tehran, Iran.** In 2008, he played board 2 for the Philippines at the Dresden Olympiad (2008) and in 2010, board 1 at the Chess Olympiad (2010). In 2009 Wesley played for the Bank of Qingdao team in the Chinese Chess League, scoring 4 points out of the 5 rated games he played. In the 19th Asian Cities Championship held in Jakarta in 2011, Wesley won silver playing top board for his 4th placed (out of 24 city teams) Tagaytay team. So again played board 1 for the Philippines in the 40th Chess Olympiad (2012), scoring 6.5/11 (+2 =9; TPR 2710) and helping the team win bronze in Rating Category B. In December 2013, he played board 3 for Webster University in the PanAm 2013, winning 6/6 games and helping his team to top place to qualify for the College Final Four playoffs. These were held in New York in April 2014, and he helped his team to win the event.

Blitz and Rapid Play

So won individual Gold Medals in Rapid Chess in the 6th and 7th ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championship held in 2004 in Vung Tau, Vietnam and in 2005 in Pattaya, Thailand; other awards he won at these two events were a Team Silver for Rapid Chess in 2004 and an Individual Gold Medal for Blitz in 2005. Although his classical score at Calvia in 2006 was average, he won the award for being the best U16 blitz player in the event held immediately afterwards. Toward the end of 2007 after he gained his GM title, Wesley So won the Christmas Invitational Blitz Tournament from a powerful field of IMs and GMs. In addition to winning the international open at Dubai in 2008, he also took third place at the sidelight blitz tournament of that event. Despite withdrawing from the main tournament at Aeroflot 2011, So competed in the blitz event held as a sidelight, placing 5th, 1.5 points behind the winner Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the 2011 SEA Games held in Indonesia, So secured the only gold chess medal for the Philippines, winning 9-0 in the blitz event. In 2011 and 2012, he won the ACC Blitz Championship in Ho Chi Minh City, finishing 1st on tiebreak in 2011 and outright first by half a point in 2012. In July 2012, he scored 9/10 to place =1st and share the prize money with Robert Lee Hess at the Blitz Championship held at the World Open Championship in Philadelphia. Later that month, he defeated Ray Robson 23-9 in's 7th Blitz "Death Match". He contested the 2nd Noel Skelton Open, which took place from 31st August to 1st September in Minnesota, and easily won the event with 5/5. In June 2014, he won the 2014 National Open Blitz held in Las Vegas.

Wesley So is one of the most formidable blitz players on the internet, his best rating on the ICC website clocking in at 3604. His original handle was Wesley16 which he eventually changed to foster-.***


Wesley So’s favorite chess books are Nimzovich’s My System and various books by Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky. His favorite player is Magnus Carlsen (2009 interview). He is now part of the Webster University chess team, under the SPICE Program run by GM Zsuzsa Polgar.

Rating and Ranking

Wesley So was the youngest player ever to cross the 2600 rating mark, 9 days short of his 15th birthday, until 2013 when Chinese prodigy Wei Yi achieved the mark at the age of 14 years 5 months 23 days. On 1 March 2013, So's rating crossed over to 2701 (the 92nd player to achieve 2700).

As of 1 February 2015, So's FIDE ratings are:

<Classical>: 2788 (#1 in the USA and the Americas; world #7) - this is his highest rating and ranking to date;

<Rapid>: 2635; and

<Blitz>: 2726 (world #34).

Live rating:


Interview in 2009 with William Stewart:; FIDE tournament records: ; Pinoy Chess; ; * World's Youngest Grandmasters: and World's Youngest GM: article by IM Cardoso: **;; and; ***

Wikipedia article: Wesley So

Last updated 5 Feb 2015

 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 554  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. W So vs V Belous 1-041 2003 Wch U10A07 King's Indian Attack
2. W So vs Z Javakhadze 1-055 2003 Wch U10B10 Caro-Kann
3. Negi vs W So 1-034 2003 Wch U10B33 Sicilian
4. W So vs N Galopoulos  0-153 2003 Wch U10C00 French Defense
5. T Pipan vs W So 0-126 2003 Wch U10B33 Sicilian
6. D Swiercz vs W So 1-073 2003 Wch U10B33 Sicilian
7. W So vs Minh Doan Vu Hoang 1-035 2004 ASEAN-ch5 U12A07 King's Indian Attack
8. W So vs O Kanmazalp 1-029 2004 Wch U12B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
9. Mark Ho En Tian vs W So 0-131 2004 ASEAN-ch5 U12B70 Sicilian, Dragon Variation
10. A Rosell vs W So  1-043 2004 Wch U12A80 Dutch
11. M Bui vs W So 0-144 2004 ASEAN-ch5 U12B70 Sicilian, Dragon Variation
12. Ding Liren vs W So 1-023 2004 Wch U12A04 Reti Opening
13. W So vs Caruana 1-027 2004 WYCC - B12B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
14. Do Duc Minh vs W So 0-120 2004 ASEAN-ch5 U12B33 Sicilian
15. W So vs Md Omar Ak Hafizon Pg  ½-½57 2004 ASEAN-ch5 U12B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
16. W So vs Y Chan  1-038 2005 ASEAN-ch6 U12C26 Vienna
17. S Neubronner vs W So 0-125 2005 ASEAN-ch6 U12B33 Sicilian
18. S Sjugirov vs W So 1-033 2005 Belfort YWCC boys under 12B30 Sicilian
19. Firman Syah Farid vs W So 0-142 2005 ASEAN-ch6 U12B33 Sicilian
20. S Narayanan vs W So 0-138 2005 Belfort YWCC boys under 12A07 King's Indian Attack
21. W So vs J Chung 1-029 2005 ASEAN-ch6 U12B01 Scandinavian
22. Robson vs W So ½-½47 2005 Belfort YWCC boys under 12B33 Sicilian
23. D Lo Kin Mun vs W So 0-154 2005 ASEAN-ch6 U12B33 Sicilian
24. I Nyzhnyk vs W So 0-133 2005 Wch U12B23 Sicilian, Closed
25. W So vs Mark Ho En Tian 1-040 2005 ASEAN-ch6 U12B01 Scandinavian
 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 554  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | So wins | So loses  

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6888 OF 6888 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-26-15  Talimuzakh: <Jim Bartle: Yeah, I'd like to see an illegal immigrant try to play in the US championship.>

Right after he is done with his game, the undercover Immigration officer will surely have a nice interview with him. Sort of chit-chat,- of how he ended up in these States, the lines he employs, essays his smart moves evading the authorities, then the officer verifies his drivers license and SSN, if he has any, - if these are of the bogus types...

II Player: Hrrrmmm, ehem,...would you like to have some free chess strategy sessions, Officer?

IO: Sure, why not? But first lets talk about some illegal moves, I mean illegal entry into these me genuine papers of proof, otherwise -I'll make a move you wouldn't like....

That is chess for you. Some people are really gifted to play the game. And Some people are just good @ doing their job, - of being a good Immigration officer. Undercover. Camouflaged as chess enthusiast -wannabe.

Mar-26-15  Eti fan: Le Quang Liem talks about the Final Four university championship
Mar-26-15  lainulo: The Metro Chess Interview with GM Wesley So
By Kostya Kavutskiy
March 25, 2015

Wesley So's rise to elite status was quite remarkable. After achieving a rating of 2719 in January 2014, he had a string of successes in 2014 and tied for second at the 2015 Tata Steel tournament to reach 2788 and establish himself in the world top ten.

Despite an intense tournament schedule, including the US Championship coming up next week, Wesley So will be the head instructor in the upcoming Metropolitan and ACA summer chess camp.

The camp will be held from July 22-26 at the Hilton Glendale, in Glendale, California, and joining Wesley will be several top scholastic coaches, including GM Melik Khachiyan, GM Dejan Bojkov, IM Armen Ambartsoumian, IM Andranik Matikozyan, IM-elect Tatev Abrahamyan, FM Aviv Friedman, and Jay Stallings.

Metropolitan Chess sent Wesley a list of questions about his chess development and rise to elite status, with his answers below

Met Chess (MC): Can you tell us a little bit about playing chess while growing up in the Philippines? Wesley So (WS): There are many good chess players in the Philippines, it's a popular and natural game for Filipinos, but unfortunately there is no regular and comprehensive support for their development. Any improvement happens more in a grassroots way where a player raises his own support from friends and family, or maybe a private person who has money contributes to help promising kids.

MC: How did you train in your youth? Did you have a private coach or attend a chess club/school? WS: I trained mostly on my own or played with friends. Neither. My family did not have the money for anything like that.

MC: Did you have any favorite chess books growing up? WS: Chess books are not only expensive in the Philippines, they are hard to get. Sometimes I could borrow one from people who traveled abroad, brought back books and loaned them to friends. This was how I read Bobby Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games. I enjoyed that a lot and Kasparov's My Great Predecessors.

MC: You became a Grandmaster at the incredibly young age of 14, what do you think is the reason you developed as a chess player so quickly? WS: God given talent. God given breaks.

MC: Have you ever had any slumps in your chess career, and if so how did you manage to break free? WS: Yes, I had a two year slump. I had developed bad habits that distracted me, hanging out with the wrong people, etc. I stagnated and then one I day woke up and decided I had to do something because I was wasting my life.

Wesleyorange.jpgMC: You've made fantastic progress in the past year, winning several strong tournaments in 2014 (Capablanca Memorial, ACP Golden Classic, 1st Millionaire Chess Open) while also tying for 2nd place in the 2015 Tata Steel super-tournament, raising your rating to nearly 2800. What sort of training did you do to elevate your level of play?

WS: I renewed my focus by realizing that what I wanted to do was play great chess. I wanted the opportunity to test myself and see I could really go all the way. That meant allowing myself more time to attend and prepare for tournaments. In the past I sometimes had to play when tired and distracted and unhealthy. I started a move to change that in 2014.

MC: You've stated that your next major goal is to break 2800 and join the top-five in the world. What do you think you'll need to do in order to succeed? WS: Work harder. Focus harder. Believe harder.

MC: What advice would you give to young chess players hoping to reach the GM level one day? WS: Do you believe you have talent? Decide what you want to do and then go for it. Commit yourself. Turn off the internet, the television, your phone, and all social media addictions and distractions. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul. Even with great sacrifice there are no guarantees you'll make it to the top but without sacrifice, it's a sure thing you won't.

Follow along Wesley So's progress in the US Championship next week and find IM Greg Shahade's predictions on the event here. Also see Wesley's bio on uschess here.

Mar-26-15  lainulo: Greg on Chess: Handicapping the 2015 US Chess Championships By IM Greg Shahade
March 24, 2015

IM Greg Shahade handicaps the US Chess Championship, from March 31 to April 13. These opinions don't reflect the USCF or the Saint Louis Chess Club. Feel free to comment with your own opinions and predictions in the comment section.

A – Favorites
Hikaru Nakamura/Wesley So

Hikaru and Wesley are the two obvious favorites of the bunch, as both are currently top 10 players in the world.

People may get caught up with the fact that Nakamura is ranked #3 in the world and So is ranked lower at #8. However in reality these rankings are only 10 rating points away, which is basically one or two bad games from flip flopping in the rankings. I would never presume that as a 2474, that I am in any way stronger than a 2464 (yet I may believe it about the average player in the 2425-2450 range), and therefore there is no specific reason to believe this about the top players in the world.

I still have to give the edge to Nakamura. Nakamura has maintained his rating playing the top players in the world for years now. Wesley has played many fewer elite events. I do expect So to get more such invitations, which is wonderful to see as he now represents America, and is extremely gracious, friendly and informative in interviews (check out some of his Tata Steel clips for evidence of this.)

Even though I expect So to hold his own as he gets invited to more elite tournaments, I still think that Nakamura is the player to beat in this tournament.

It's very close but Nakamura is the favorite, and I'll give him a 40% shot to win the event, while I'll give So a 35% chance. Yes, that means that I think these two players have a 75% chance to win the US Championship.

B – Knocking on the Door
Gata Kamsky

The defending U.S. Champion, Gata Kamsky, is definitely an elite player. However at this stage in his career you have to put the two top 10 players ahead of him. Despite that it would not be any surprise to see a player of Kamsky's magnitude win this tournament. I'm going to go ahead and give him a 15% chance to win.

GM Gata Kamsky
It's important to note that Kamsky has been counted out many times in his career and came through. He was an afterthought in the 2011 Candidates Matches, but he stunned the top seed, Veselin Topalov to reach the second round. Against Anand in his road to play for the championship in 1996, he was down by two games midway through the match, and made a stunning comeback to win and go on to face Karpov.

Kamsky's fighting spirit is tremendous and he is definitely the main danger to the top players.

C - The Darkhorses
Sam Shankland/Ray Robson

I'm no longer going to give percentages of victory to each individual player, as admittedly they are relatively low. However if you had to tell me that one of the top 3 didn't win, I would say that it's close, but the most likely candidate would be Shankland.

While Shankland is older than some of the other young stars in the event, a little known secret is that Shankland started chess at a much later age than the typical young player does these days. When Ray Robson started playing chess, Shankland probably didn't even know what the pieces were called. SamTata300.jpg
GM Sam Shankland
This has led him to have a bit of a strange trajectory, making sudden leaps in strength at later ages than is normal in this day and age. Also helping his chances is that it seems he is a bit of an up and down player, more capable of great results, while also more capable of mediocre performances.

A great example is his blistering performance in the 2014 Olympiad, where he completely annihilated the field with 9 wins from 10 games, a 2829 performance rating, which included a powerful win over GM Judit Polgar. I don't know if anyone else is capable of such a dominant performance outside of the top three and that's exactly what will be needed to win this tournament.

Ray Robson is also a very dangerous young player who has been quietly moving up the rating lists to reach the 2650 FIDE mark. At the inaugural Millionaire Open he made it to the final match against Wesley So for the title. While he ended up losing to Wesley, I feel like that tournament was his announcement to the chess world that he's ready to step his game up a notch and make his move towards that 2700 FIDE mark.

For some intuitive reason I feel like Shankland is more likely to go crazy and shock the world. You know what? These two are so evenly matched, wouldn't it be great to see a match between them? I think so! Someone should make it happen.

Mar-26-15  Strongest Force: About two months before the big fight? Even the loser will get 100 million! I would fight either of them for a mere 100 thousand. When either of them looked at me hard I would take a fall. Y'all would pay for that wouldn't you?
Mar-26-15  joeyj:
Mar-27-15  Baron Harkonnen: <lainulo- I would never presume that as a 2474, that I am in any way stronger than a 2464 (yet I may believe it about the average player in the 2425-2450 range), and therefore there is no specific reason to believe this about the top players in the world.>

I thought you were a 1800 player at 2474? You are almost a GM. Congratz, amazing development

Mar-27-15  dunkenchess: Ilang araw na lang.
Mar-27-15  joeyj: 1-Apr 1:00 PM Round 1
St. Louis (U.S.A. - Missouri) Wednesday, 1 April 2015, 13:00:00

Manila (Philippines) Thursday, 2 April 2015, 02:00am

Mar-27-15  lainulo: <I thought you were a 1800 player at>

Not my actual playing strength as I would give up points by abandoning won games..most due to sleeping while playing...when I woke up, I ran out of time.

When I decided to get really focused on my numbers, I managed to get to as high as 1998, short two points of the 2000 plateau...See my profile...then I go back to sleeping mode...Maybe I can go up to 2100 if I give it my all.

< 2474? You are almost a GM. Congratz, amazing development>

That was not me talking. I just posted an article by another author.

Most of my games at are not serious. More like experimenting. Below please find a nice gem - a mate without any pawn or piece capture courtesy of yours truly- a one of a kind masterpiece never to be replicated in over the board play.

Mar-27-15  donsimeondon: maganda talagang mang asar pag mag maintain ka ng mababang rate then mag challenge ka ng mas mataas ng di hamak na rate kaysa sa iyo tapos pag one move mate na ang kalaban e hintayin mong 5 sec na lang ang oras mo saka mo siya matehin. makakatikim ka ng buyayaw ng kalaban niyan pero at least nang asar ka ng di nagsasalita ng bad words. enjoy yan ba lalo na pag di nakatikim ng panalo sa iyo.. pag natalo ka naman e di tatamaan ang ego mo kasi nga mababa ang rate mo..
Mar-28-15  iking: nakakadyahe naman nyan ... i have that rating of 1720 and a 1400+ popped out, i played with him, i was mated in less that 20 moves, i challenged him again, using my pet opening, the same result, demolition ... i declined the 3rd match, ouch!
Mar-28-15  iking: look at the mirror ...
Mar-28-15  mini cooper s: <iking> Ano handle nung nag demolished sayo?
Mar-28-15  batongol: ikaw b yun mini cooper na may 1720 rating?

ask lang...kumusta abe?

Mar-28-15  batongol: worth reading again...articles about WS

Mar-28-15  batongol: Russia is still a very strong chess nation, where the game has substantial government and private backing. Chess remains part of popular culture, though much less so than in Soviet times. New talents still emerge, but increasingly they reach a ceiling at the level of the world top 50-100. The young top 10s – Netherlands’ Anish Giri, Wesley So of the US – and the fast rising stars – China’s Wei Yi, and Sam Sevian of the US – are from other nations.

Mar-28-15  iking: <mini cooper s: <iking> Ano handle nung nag demolished sayo?> .. i can not remember sir <minicooper>. ...
Mar-29-15  jimmy77: US Chess Championships.......getting closer....magkakaalaman na......3 1/2 days before hostilities begin....
Mar-29-15  dunkenchess: Lumalapit.....
Mar-29-15  searchforbobby1: malapit na nga... kaya naririto na ang mga barangay to suppport GM So at makinig sa mga pambihirang analysis nag mga kapwa barangay!
Mar-29-15  Strongest Force: Sevien will win USA championship at age 14.
Kasparov will put one of those undetectable KBG earpieces in his ear that is connected to the world's best comps. Sam will then talk trash:)
Mar-29-15  iking: tsiring tsiring laang ...
Mar-29-15  dunkenchess: Lumalapit.....
Mar-30-15  Jtcfmb: #300 present!
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