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).