Filipino American Wesley So defends Fischer Random championship in Iceland

Wesley So Fischer Random championship
Wesley So will be challenged by the world’s chess champions. Photo: Maria Emelianova/ via FR Chess.

Filipino American Grandmaster Wesley So is all set to defend his World Fischer Random Chess Championship title when the 2022 edition of one of the four world championship events officially recognized by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) begins on October 25 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The World Fischer Random inaugural champion won his title in Oslo, Norway in 2019 playing against World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen who resigned after scoring just 2.5 points against Wesley So’s 13.5 points accumulated from the Slow Rapid and Fast Rapid events.

In the 2nd edition of the World Fischer Random Championship, three-time United States Chess Champion Wesley So will play against 7 other finalists including Carlsen, 4 qualifiers from the and Lichess tournaments, and 2 wildcards picked by the FIDE President and local organizers.

The 8 finalists of the 2022 Fischer Random championship and their pathways:

  1. Wesley So, 2019 World Fischer Random Chess Champion
  2. Magnus Carlsen, 2019 World Fischer Random Chess Championship runner-up
  3. Vladimir Fedoseev, Winner of the Online Knock-out Qualifier 1 at
  4. Matthias Blübaum, Winner of the Online Knock-out Qualifier 2 at
  5. Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Winner of the Online Knock-out Qualifier 1 at Lichess
  6. Hikaru Nakamura, Winner of the Online Knock-out Qualifier 2 at Lichess
  7. Ian Nepomniachtchi, FIDE’s wildcard, 3rd top finisher 2019 World Fischer Random Chess Championship and the world’s 3rd-highest-rated player
  8. Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson, Wildcard from the local organizing committee as the strongest Icelandic Grandmaster

“I am so excited to be competing in Fischer Random again! And in Iceland! It couldn’t be more special than to compete in that particular place, defending my title against the best players in the world. To play in Reykjavik, fifty years after the match between Fischer and Spassky, gives it a historical perspective that cannot be matched,” said Wesley So in the FIDE report ahead of the finals.


The Fischer Random game invented by legendary World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer uses the same standard chess rules but randomly shuffles the starting position of pieces among 960 possibilities.

The start position is chosen at random 15 minutes before the beginning of each round. In the two group stages, the players will play one game with each color from this starting position.

Players can only consult with their designated assistant in this short window of time before the two games are played, and cannot use any notes or devices. The game eliminates the huge body of opening preparation built over decades and the superhuman machine assistance. Fischer Random rewards the player who is most creative and resourceful instead of the best at memorizing opening moves.

Wesley So is one of the players who opted for moral support from family or friends over a designated assistant. The Cavite, Philippines-born So chose to have his mother, Lotis Key, join him in Iceland.

The Fischer Random report after the opening ceremonies on October 24 noted how Wesley So “emphasized how much he loves the difference Fischer Random provides, saying he clearly prefers it over classical chess, with its hours of opening preparation and kids wielding long, memorized, computer-generated variations. Playing Fischer Random is better, he says — but harder”.

The groups have been determined by players’ choices with Group A led by defending champion Wesley So joined by Ian Nepomniachtchi, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, and Hjörvar Steinn Grétarsson. Group B is led by Magnus Carlsen joined by Hikaru Nakamura, Vladimir Fedoseev, and Matthias Blübaum.

The pairings for the two group stage rounds were determined by a blind pick on October 24:

Round 1, October 25

Group A

  • Grétarsson – So
  • Abdusattorov – Nepomniachtchi

Group B

  • Blübaum – Nakamura
  • Carlsen – Fedoseev

Round 2, October 25

Group A

  • Nepomniachtchi – Grétarsson
  • So – Abdusattorov

Group B

  • Fedoseev – Blübaum
  • Nakamura – Carlsen

The group stage will be followed by the knockout semifinals and final. The player who wins the two-game match will score two points. A drawn match will score one point each. A lost match scores no points.

The time control is ‘slow rapid’: Each game is 30 moves in 25 minutes, plus 5 minutes for the rest of the game after move 30, plus 5 seconds increment per move starting from move 31.

Day one of the tournament begins on October 25 at 15:00 GMT (11:00 PM Philippine time).

The overall prize fund is 400,000 USD, with 150,000 USD going to the winner of the 2022 FIDE Fischer Random World Champion title.

Games from October 25-30 are broadcast live by NRK, the largest media organization in Norway, and RUV, Iceland’s major national broadcast company.

World Fischer Random Championship schedule. FR Chess screenshot.

Wesley So recently met the first Asian and Filipino Grandmaster Eugene Torre during the latter’s induction into the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, Missouri. Torre’s acceptance speech proudly mentioned Wesley So as the inaugural Fischer Random champion, a chess variant whose development was personally witnessed by Torre, a friend of Bobby Fischer.

SEND WELL WISHES in the comments below to Wesley So as he defends his World Fischer Random Championship title in Iceland! WATCH the live games here.

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Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.