Saturday, April 19, 2008


Wild, wild Wesley on fire versus Indon GM

So rules Dubai Chess Open ahead of over 20 grandmasters
By Jobannie C. Tabada, 14 April 2008

Wesley So captured his first major international title in his young chess career after the Filipino whiz kid was crowned champion in the 10th Dubai Chess Open following the final-round matches Monday at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

The 14-year-old grandmaster from Bacoor, Cavite tallied a total of seven points after settling for a draw with China's GM Li Chao in the final round of the nine-round Swiss system event, which featured over 130 players, including 23 GMs, 19 international masters, six WGMs, three WIMs, 17 Fide Masters and several top-rated players from 25 countries.

So actually figured in a four-way tie with Li, Georgia's GM Merab Gagunashvili and Iran's GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, but emerged with the highest tiebreak score to secure the Sheikh Rashed Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup staked in the tournament.

Gagunashvili secured second place, Maghami was third, while Li wound up fourth. GM Abhijeet Gupta (India), GM Yuri Drozdovski (Ukraine), IM RR Laxman (India), GM Valeriy Neverov (Ukraine), GM David Arutinian (Georgia) and Azerbaijan grandmasters Rasul Ibrahinov, top-seed Gadir Guseinov and Sarhan Guliev scored 6.5 points each for joint fifth to 12th places.

Defending champion GM Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia, who lost to So in the third round, had a disappointing finish with 4.5 points to occupy the 57th position in the final rankings.

"Although we did not expect this kind of performance from Wesley, it shows that his perseverance and dedication to his training regimen has paid off," said Wesley's father William, who accompanied the young champion in his Dubai campaign. "Also, Dubai has been a very special place for us because of the overwhelming support we have received from the Filipino Chess Players League and the Filipino community in general. In all the places we have been, Dubai has been the most memorable because of the very warm reception we have received, which we have not experienced elsewhere."

So, currently the world's youngest international chess grandmaster, became the first Filipino to rule the tournament, which has been reputed as one of the toughest annual events in Asia, wherein some of the most prominent figures in chess have previously taken part such as Norwegian teenage sensation GM Magnus Carlsen, among others.

So received his prize from officials of the UAE Chess Federation and the International Chess Federation (Fide) during the awarding rites held Tuesday night at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club. A sizeable Filipino delegation also attended the ceremonies, led by Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Libran Cabactulan and Filipino Chess Players League's officials Joey Tiberio, Ernesto Yap and Jerry Lababo.

A busy schedule awaits So following his successful campaign in Dubai as he is scheduled to play a six-game match against Indonesia's rising star Susanto Megaranto, which has been tentatively set to start tomorrow. He will then fly back to the Manila to compete in the Battle of Grandmasters, a closed tournament featuring the country's grandmasters and selected top-ranked players.

Meanwhile, International Master Julio Catalino Sadorra, who is set to compete in the Battle of Grandmasters, wound up with five points after winning his final-round game against FM Hossein Mohamed of UAE, while Jobannie Tabada likewise had five points after a victory over India's C. Natarajan.

FM Antonio Molina Sr. and Ernest Yap had 4.5 points each, while National Master Robert Arellano, who arrived late in almost every round due to conflicting work schedule, managed just 3.5 points. FM Molina drew with WGM Zhang Jilin of China, Yap defeated Germany's Stefan Schmid, while Arellano lost to WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy of India.

********************************************************************************** Please click here to watch ABS-CBN / TV Patrol's coverage on GM Wesley So **********************************************************************************

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