Big year for So

January 02, 2019
Wesley So
Wesley So: Challenging new year.

GM Wesley So  will open the new year as No. 11 in the world with an ELO of  2765.

In the January 2019 list released by FIDE (International Chess Federation)  last Tuesday, So  dropped.out of   the Top 10  for the first  time  since  July  2016 despite keeping the  same rating as  November 2018  while  playing a total of 20 games for the  two-month period.

The 25-year-old Filipino champion from Bacoor, Cavite  who now represents the United States, reached as high as No. 2 in the world  behind only world champion GM Magnus Carlsen with a   personal  high ELO of 2822 in March 2017.

So maintained No. 2 position until August 2017 with ELO 2810 before dropping to No. 8  the  following  month  with ELO 2792.

But So, who is best remembered for winning the gold medal as a  member of the Federation of  School  Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP)-supported  Philippine team in the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia, is expected to quickly recover lost ground with several strong tournaments during another busy year in 2019.

“It  will be another big, challenging  year for Wesley,” said one veteran  chess analyst. ”Siguradong  makababawi  siya  ngayong taon.”

Meanwhile, Carlsen kept the top spot for the  eighth  straight year -- or  since July 2011 -- with an ELO of 2835.

The  Norwegian champion was at his peak at ELO 2882 in May 2014.

Close behind Carlsen in the January 2019 list are  GM Fabiano Caruana of the United States, second with ELO of 2828; GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan,  third with 2817; GM Liren Ding of China, fourth with 2813; and  GM Anish Giri of the Netherlands, fifth with 2783.

Completing the Top 10 are GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France with 2780;  GM Vladimir Kramnik of Russia with 2777; GM Viswanathan Anand  of India with 2773; GM Alexander Grischuk of Russia with 2771; and  GM Levon Aronian of Armenia with 2767.

GM Yu Yangyi of China is close behind So at No. 11 with 2764.

Among Filipino players,  GM Julio Catalino Sadorra is tops with ELO 2568,

GM Oliver Barbosa is second with 2552,  followed by  GM Mark Paragua in  third with 2501,  GM Joseph Sanchez in fourth with 2471 and GM John Paul Gomez with 2460.

Also making it  to the Top 10 are GMs Richard  Bitoon (2455),  Rogelio Barcenilla Jr. (2451) and Eugene Torre (2451) and IMs Paulo Bersamina (2444) and  Haridas Pascua (1437).

The contry’s other GMS -- Darwin  Laylo ( 2439), Rogelio Antonio, Jr. ( 2425), Eoland Salvador ( 2405), and  Jayson Gonzales ( 2363) -- are  currently out of the Top 10 based on the recent list.

Not listed is  Filipino  GM Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor, who is now under Singapore. Villamayor has ELO 2398,  good for fifth in  Singapore.

Interestingly, six of the top seven Filipinos are all based abroad.

In the country list,  Russia remains  No. 1 with   an average rating of 2740  from  2, 591 titled  players from 251 GMs.

China is second with average rating of 2711 from 170 totled players,  while the  US is  third with average rating of  2702 from 799 titled players.

The  Philippines is ranked No. 49  with  average  rating of 2479 from  96  titled  players (including 13  GMs and 30 IMs).