Chess world in shock after Wesley So’s family drama overshadows US Championships
Estranged mother of rising star Wesley So disrupts US Chess Championships as he forfeits a match for doodling during a game
One of the most shocking events at a chess tournament I can recall saw the unprecedented forfeiting of world number eight Wesley So in the ninth round of the US Chess Championships.
So was forfeited by the arbiter Tony Rich for writing notes during his game against Varuzhan Akobian.
Akobian had complained it was disturbing him.
So had been writing motivational messages to himself on his score sheet in earlier rounds and twice been warned not to by the arbiter.
In round nine, So used a separate piece of paper to write: “Double Check and triple check” and “use your time”
It appears that So was not totally familiar with the rules and there is no question that he was writing coded analysis to gain an advantage.
Earlier notes that So had written to himself, still visible on the original score sheets which are handed to arbiter at the end of the game said “Use your time you have a lot of it” and “Sit down for the entire game. Never get up
On his Facebook page, So wrote:
The arbiter Tony Rich consulted with International Arbiter Franc Guadalupe by phone before deciding to forfeit So.
Rich said he told So after the second infraction that a third violation for taking notes would result in the loss of a game by forfeit.
So was forfeited under articles:
- 8.1b The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.
- 11.3 During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard.
- 11.5 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever.
- 11.7 Persistent refusal by a player to comply with the Laws of Chess shall be penalised by loss of the game.
It later emerged that So’s reference to having difficulty concentrating was related to some family turmoil
“There are personal problems in my family,” So said after the forfeit. “Trying to fix them during this tournament caused a lot of stress and tension. It diverted a lot of energy from the board when I should be focusing on my game.”
So’s decision to quit university and turn full time professional was strongly opposed by his estranged mother.
The 21-year-old Philipino was taken in by Lotis Key and her husband, Renato Kabigting and moved to Minnesota after which his career flourished.
He stormed into the world’s top 10 after winning $100,000 at the Millionaire Open in Las Vegas.
According to Key, So’s mother and aunt came to St. Louis and contacted So threatening him with losing contact with his family if he did not return to university
Reportedly, there was an ugly scene outside the tournament venue at the Chess Club and Scholastic Centre of St Louis that led to an apology by So to the club, and a request that the mother and aunt be banned from the tournament.
For the record the moves were:
W So – V Akobian
1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.dxc5 0–1
Meanwhile, Hikaru Nakamura played what looked like a load of old rubbish but he played it very well and bamboozled Kayden Troff to regain the lead with two to play.
K Troff – H Nakamura
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.g3 Bg7 8.Bg2 0–0 9.0–0 Re8 10.Re1 a6 11.a4 Nbd7 12.e4 Ng4 13.Nd2 Nge5 14.Bf1 g5 (14…Nf6)15.h3 Qf6 16.Qh5 Bh6 17.Nd1 g4 18.Ne3 Bxe3 19.Rxe3 Qg7 20.hxg4 Nxg4(20…Nf6 21.Qh1 Nfxg4 22.Rc3 f5 is equally unclear) 21.Rc3 Ndf6 22.Qh1 Re5 23.Qf3 Bd7 (A thoroughly confusing position Nakamura has concocted) 24.Qd3?(24.Qg2 Rh5; 24.Nc4 Rxe4 25.Nxd6 Re1; 24.Rb3 Qh6 25.Qg2 Rh5 26.Rxb7? (26.Nf3 Qg7 27.Nh4 Nxf2!) 26…Rh2 27.Qf3 Ne5 wins) 24…Qh6! 25.Bg2 Qh2+ 26.Kf1 Nxf2!! 27.Kxf2 Bh3 28.Qf1