Wesley So, conqueror of world champ Magnus Carlsen, gives Filipinos a huge shoutout

Published February 15, 2021, 5:17 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Grandmaster Wesley So gave a huge shoutout to Filipino fans in a post-game interview shortly after capturing the US$100,000 (P5 million) Euro Opera Rapid of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour against world champion Magnus Carlsen early Monday.

So specifically thanked his Filipino fans for following his games including this one that saw the Cavite-born player winning the second title against Carlsen in the tour.

“All I can say is … First, thank you to the chess fans who watched… Filipinos, Indians, Norwegians, Chinese, Africans, Russians, Americans and on and on….. A startling moment for me to win this event and have all of you sort of there, nervous along with me,” he wrote in social media.

Ever the gentleman, the 27-year-old So also apologized to Carlsen for spoiling Valentine’s Day.

In their first title duel at the Skilling Open last December, So beat Carlsen on the Norwegian’s 30th birthday.

Asked about how he has been playing solidly during the tour, So said it was all about getting relaxed prior and during tournaments.

“I don’t do some chess work in the last few days (leading to the tournament). I just try to watch some TV shows, read books and try to sleep 10 to 11 hours a night,” he said.

“But I think it’s more important during the tournament to try to relax and get your mind off the pressure.”

With the pandemic sidelining most over-the-board tournaments, So admitted he was discouraged to play. But he was thankful for online events such as the Champions Chess Tour for keeping him motivated again.

“Right after the pandemic hit last year, I was badly motivated. I wasn’t working on chess. But now, (online tournaments) give players hope and motivation to study chess again,” he said.

“I guess the secret to playing chess well is not thinking about the result or not thinking about rating points or prizes, but just to have fun, play some good moves. Because at the end of the day, you’re doing it for the fans and for other people, and you don’t want to play bad games for them.”