Wesley So Magnus Carlsen
Wesley So bested the world’s classical chess champion and unofficial Fischer champion in a sweep of the Fischer tournament in Norway. Credits to FR Chess.

Cavite-born Filipino-American Chess Grand Master (GM) Wesley So has beaten champion GM Magnus Carlsen to become the First Champion of the first official World Fischer Random Chess Championship (FR Chess) held in Norway.

GM Wesley So, who surpassed Magnus Carlsen’s record as the youngest player in the history of the game to break the 2600 Elo barrier in 2008, again bested the world’s classical chess champion and unofficial Fischer champion in a sweep of the Fischer tournament held from October 27 to November 2.

So swiftly bested Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi in the semi-finals to secure the finals berth as Carlsen won over American champion Fabiano Caruana.

Carlsen resigned the final second game to Wesley So on Saturday, notching the following scores in the two finals games:

Slow Rapid:
So 10.5, Carlsen 1.5

Fast Rapid:
So 3.0, Carlsen 1.0

Wesley So discussing his winning moves in a post-game analysis. Screengrab from live video of FR Chess.

Wesley So completed his stunning upset of the world’s No. 1-ranked Magnus Carlsen in front of his home crowd at the Henie Onstad Art Center in Norway.

In a country that loves chess, Wesley So became an instant celebrity.

Chess coverage of the tourney noted the winner’s humility throughout the tournament and even after being declared winner of the USD125,000 1st place prize, describing Wesley So as “characteristically modest in victory” and declaring “If one thing has become clear en route to the final, it is that Wesley So is a very resourceful man.”

“I’m very happy! It’s my favorite type of chess, and it hasn’t been popular until the last couple of years… Magnus had a bad couple of days if it was regular chess he would probably have beaten me easily,” the winner told NRK in the FR Chess results report.

“People love chess here, thanks to Magnus. People here treat players well, and we love it here. I’m very happy to be the world champion but it doesn’t change much. I think he was shaken in our game 2, and wasn’t able to bounce back, but he congratulated me right after the match, he is a great sportsman,” So added.

Wesley So beat Norwegian Magnus Carlsen in front of his home crowd but has turned out to be crowd favorite for his modesty and resourcefulness. Credits to FR Chess.

Wesley So also shared about his preference for the Fischer Random, saying, “To me, mainly chess is art – that’s why I like Fischer Random a lot, there is a lot of creativity.”

The first official World Fischer Random Chess Champion said, “I don’t have to fear that I am running into some deeply prepared line. The trouble with real chess is that people can memorize up to move 40, sometimes more, sometimes less. In order to play good chess you have to be good at different things, working with computers. I don’t like memorizing moves that I don’t understand. Here in Fischer Random you get a game, literally from the beginning.”

The Fisher Random chess game was invented by the late world champion, Bobby Fischer. Unlike the standard chess, the game allows randomized set up where the players can jumble up positions of the chess pieces for the starting position. This provides more challenge, flexibility and excitement to the players.

Wesley So is mobbed by new fans and media after winning the FR Championship. Credits to FR Chess.

Filipinos can’t help themselves but feel proud of Bacoor’s Wesley So for being the first official World Fischer Random Chess champion. The chess champion of Filipino-Chinese descent, who continues to give back to the Philippines by providing free chess education to Filipinos, gained another spot in chess history books that already has his name recorded for several feats as he started his career in the Philippines before turning professional in the United States, among them:

  • The Philippines’ first gold at the Summer Universiade, won in 2013 at the 27th edition of the games held in Kazan, Russia
  • Rated the world’s strongest chess player for his age level (players born in 1993 and later) on the FIDE rating list in 2009
  • Set a record as the youngest winner in the 10-year history of the Dubai Open Chess Championships in 2008
  • Youngest-ever Filipino International Master and the youngest member of the national men’s team to participate at the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy in 2006
  • Ninth youngest chess grandmaster in history at the age of 14 years old

Wesley So was ranked the Number 1 U.S. chess player after winning his first U.S. Chess Championship title – receiving his award proudly wearing a Philippine Barong Tagalog – and soared to World Number 2 rank in 2017.

So was ranked World No. 2 in Rapid Chess Rankings in 2018.

Wesley So was Top 2 at the Zagreb leg of the ongoing Grand Chess Tour.

As Fischer Random is gaining popularity with grand masters, chess enthusiasts, and novice players in the world, Filipinos are beginning to notice the game and beginning to realize that our qualities of ingenuity, resourcefulness, resilience, playfulness, and quick thinking wit can help us excel in the game – as Wesley So has shown the world.

Wesley So’s next competitions are at the USA Superbet Rapid & Blitz from November 4 – 11, 2019 in Bucharest, Romania, and the Tata Steel India Rapid & Blitz from November 20 – 27, 2019 in Kolkata, India.

Wesley So is competing for a spot in the top four players by cumulative score who will qualify for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour Finals which will be held during the London Chess Classic in London in the United Kingdom between November 30 and December 10, 2019.

SEND congratulations in the comments below to Wesley So for displaying excellence and sportsmanship in world chess tournaments!

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