Wesley So is clinging to his top 10 ranking with 6 rounds left in the Sinquefield Cup

Ignacio Dee
Published 6:17 PM, August 25, 2015
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD. Wesley So (R) drew to Dutch archrival Anish Giri (L) on Tuesday morning as he fights to stay among the elite 10 of chess players. Photo from Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis' Facebook
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CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD. Wesley So (R) drew to Dutch archrival Anish Giri (L) on Tuesday morning as he fights to stay among the elite 10 of chess players. Photo from Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis’ Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – If the monthly Elo rating of the world’s top players were to be released now, Wesley So would have tumbled out of the elite top 10. But there are 6 rounds left in the Sinquefield Cup, the year’s strongest chess tournament, being played in St Louis, Mo.

So, who lost to Maxime Vachier Lagrave of France in the first round, drew to Dutch archrival Anish Giri in the next round on Tuesday morning, August 25. This event is the strongest competition he has faced since the Philippine-born grandmaster turned professional and began playing for the United States last year.

On the chess site 2700chess.com, So is ranked number 11 with an Elo rating of 2767.6. This website calculates ratings of top players after every game they play. In the official World Chess Federation (FIDE) August ratings, So is still number 7 with an Elo rating of 2779.

When the September rating comes out next week, So will lose ground as he shed 5.9 points in the Turkish Super Chess League. With 9 Elo rating points separating So from the tenth placer, So may remain tenth but only by a hair.

At the Sinquefield Cup, So has lost 11.4 points according to 2700chess.com. In the same list, number 7 is Ding Liren of China followed by former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Alexander Griscuk of Russia and Levon Aronian of Armenia round off the top 10.

Even big names have found it very tough in St Louis. Viswanathan Anand of India, a favorite of Filipino chess fans due to his having stayed in the Philippines for a few years in the 1980s, is zero out of two rounds. Fabiano Caruano, the former world number has only a draw.

The Sinquefield tournament results will be included in FIDE’s Elo rating list either September or October.

As So fights to stay in the top 10, people who claim to be Filipinos have been absent in chess cyberspace. Gone are biting jeers and strident cheers, especially at chessgames.com, when So wins or loses.

A post like Barking Estreptococo at chessgames.com recalled the old days: “Wesley who has a charitable heart helps MVL ( Maxime Vachier Lagrave) get back to his feet by donating a few points.” TheBlacksmith, at chessbomb.com: “falakfak boys, where are you??? HAHAHA. Ang yayabang niyo kasi”.

Before So changed his federation membership from the Philippines to the U.S., netizens would stay up, commenting on the games and using chess engines to evaluate the position.

The hours are too forbidding. Games start at 2 am Manila time, and the first results seep through at at around 5:40 am when the sun rises.

But some could not be swayed from watching So’s games. For even if the U.S. flag is displayed in the stands, some believe it is better following him than the Philippines’ top chess players, whose Elo ratings have plummeted since last year.

The country’s former number one, Oliver Barbosa, lost around 90 points and has clung to fourth place with 2501, like the former number two, Texas-based Julio Catalino Sadorra who lost 100 points. John Paul Gomez, the new number one player, has given up at least 30 points this year.

Unless there is a new star in the horizon, Filipino chess fans will still follow Wesley So no matter what time his games are being played. There is no alternative. – Rappler

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