Lifestyle, Profiles, Stories

Wesley So: The Chinoy Bringing Chess to the Next Level

“What?!” It’s a fairly common reaction when people find out that chess is a varsity-level activity in many schools. How can chess, they ask, be compared to the likes of the physically demanding basketball? Or the speed and accuracy required in football? 

Chess requires concentration and patience, characteristics often lacking in today’s fast-paced world. Wesley So, a proud Chinoy taking the game to the next level, knows this by heart. 

Wesley is a world champion, ranking second as of January 2017. Here are five interesting facts about Wesley’s career:  


1) He memorized all the chess movements at age six.

Yes, Wesley could’ve probably beaten you at chess as a toddler! The game consists of 16 pieces, all of which have different functions. That’s besides the fact that the opponent has the same number of pieces, which are considerations the player must make as well. So, while this achievement may seem out-of-reach for many, with a little hard work and determination, the game may be easily comprehended!

2) Wesley is Chinese-Filipino … and American 

Alhough Wesley was born in the Philippines, he has since moved to the U.S. Soon thereafter, he started playing under the United States Chess Federation back in November 2014. There, he has continued playing and bagging honors competition after competition. 

But, why has he not been playing for the Philippines? More below.


3) Wesley’s chess talents weren’t fully supported  by the Philippine government.

Unfortunately, it appears that the government didn’t fully support Wesley’s chess career and talents. This reflects an unfortunate pattern experienced by countless other athletes. According to The Manila Times article titled, Why Wesley So is not playing for the Philippines, after his 2012 Summer Universiade win in Russia, he was refused the P1 million award for his win, an award guaranteed by the Athletes and Coaches Incentives Law. 

The Philippine Olympic Committee didn’t sanction the 2012 trip because “the delegation was sent by a group whose members had previously clashed with the POC over … a long-drawn basketball leadership row.”


4) Wesley recently bagged the US championship again.

Wesley was able to climb to the top at the 2020 US Chess Championship, beating the likes of fellow experts Jeffery Xiong, Ray Robson, and Leinier Domínguez. In total, Wesley won $40,000. The competition, held online, had a total top score of 11 points — Wesley scored 9, narrowly beating Jeffery Xiong who had 8.5 points. 


Wesley continues to excel in the game that he has always loved. Through his experiences, he has gained a renewed sense of concentration, perseverance, and grit to keep going and win big. May his achievements inspire other hidden talents in the game of chess!


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

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