Not so magical move by So in his latest match

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Sunday, June 22, 2014

THEY have stopped payment for the monthly allowance of Wesley So, at No. 16 the highest-ranked Filipino grandmaster in world chess. Reason? The 20-year-old has applied for American citizenship.

Perhaps piqued by this, Richie Garcia, the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), has cut off financial ties with the kid from Cavite who, at age eight, had already showed signs of being a prodigy of the “gymnasium of the mind” as the great Lenin described chess.

I am sure it pained Richie to do that. So has been a treasured PSC bet, who has brought home numerous honors from many battles overseas.


But as the country’s custodian of government funds for our athletes, it is Richie’s mandated duty to see to it that monies are disbursed correctly and without favor to anyone.

By opting out of the country’s colors, So has intimated in the strongest terms that he doesn’t want Philippine help anymore, financial or otherwise. Or, even if he still wishes to continue receiving his P40,000 monthly stipend, that is not possible anymore and should not be condoned one bit as it would surely create dissension among the ranks of athletes, especially those receiving less than what So was getting before.

Fairness, justice and equality are what guide Richie in running the affairs of his turf.

But while Richie has not openly expressed his disappointment with So’s move—although the allowance stoppage has said it all—Prospero Pichay was very vocal about the matter.

Pichay, the country’s chess chief, has not acted on So’s written request to be released from the Philippine Chess Federation so that So could be finally accepted into the US Chess Federation and start playing for the US “soonest.”

“This is a serious matter,” said Pichay. “And I would not simply grant his request on a mere letter from him.”

Although Pichay’s move does not have the effect of a checkmate, I think So has to ponder his next move with telling accuracy to stay in the match. First off, he is not yet an American citizen. So why the rush for So to leave his mother federation?

The chess clock is a-ticking, Wesley. (

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 22, 2014.


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