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PSC claims it isn’t hindering Wesley So’s US transfer

Manolo Pedralvez
PSC claims it isn’t hindering Wesley So’s US transfer
As Filipino chess Grandmaster Wesley seeks his release to transfer to the US team, a confidante says National Chess Federation of the Philippines officials have grown combative and hostile

MANILA, Philippine – Contrary to the claims of National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Prospero Pichay Jr, the Philippine Sports Commission is not hindering the transfer of affiliation of Grandmaster Wesley So, according to PSC Chairman Ricardo Garcia.

“He (Pichay) must be dreaming. He can release (So) now, tomorrow or whenever and his budget will not be changed,” Garcia said in a text message on Wednesday, August 13. “The only amount that will change is the allowance of So. It will be removed.”

Garcia was referring to the monthly stipend of P40,000 and financial support that So was earlier receiving under the government sports agency’s priority athletes program.  

The PSC chief suspended the player’s allowance and other privileges after he requested the NCFP to switch his affiliation with the United States Chess Federation.

Garcia was reacting to the statements attributed to Pichay following his meeting in Tromso, Norway last Tuesday, August 12, with So, American-Vietnamese Paul Truong and his wife Susan Polgar, who serves as the coach and confidante of the Pinoy chesser.

So, the country’s highest-rated player with an Elo rating of 2774, is based in the US as a chess scholar of Webster University under the Susan Polgar Chess Institute of Chess Excellence, with Truong serving as its marketing officer.  

Truong posted the contents of the meeting with Pichay and NCFP vice president Roel Canobas on his Facebook page shortly after the dialogue.

 “He (Pichay) said he cannot do it (release So) because Mr. Garcia of the PSC will cut $500,000 in funding to the NCFP immediately,” Truong said. “I explained that according to the interview(s), Mr. Garcia said that Mr. Pichay is the one who can make the decision and no funding will be lost.”

“Mr. Canobas and Mr. Pichay both said that it is not true and we do not understand how things work in the Philippines. I asked for them to explain to me but they refused.

”Mr. Pichay said that even though he likes Wesley; he will not jeopardize the funding to the NCFP from the PSC. This funding will be used to build many more Wesley Sos.

“I asked what the difference is between now and 11-12 months later when he is gone anyway? This way he can save his career.

“They repeated that we do not understand how things work in the Philippines and if they release Wesley, Mr. Garcia will cut the funding to all chess players in the Philippines. Therefore, it is their duty to protect the interest of the chess federation and not Wesley,” Truong quoted the NCF officials as saying.

Truong bared that Canobas, a lawyer, questioned him why he was helping So and demanded that he present the Filipino official a formal contract.

“I explained to them that I am his coach, and I also represent Wesley in chess related matters because his Mother asked me to help him,” he replied.    

“Even though Wesley confirmed to Mr. Pichay and Mr. Canobas about my position, Mr. Canobas said that unless we can show them a contract, this matter is not our business. He then attacked us and accused us of making money off Wesley,” he added.

“We explained to him (Canobas) that not only we do not make a penny from Wesley, we put in our own time and money to help him. It appears that he does not believe in the concept of anyone helping others without any personal benefits,” Truong pointed out.

He accused Canobas of “trying to intimidate us by shouting and raising his voice.” 

“I have never seen anyone treating a woman in this manner, especially a World and Olympiad Champion,” Truong fumed. “It was also very disrespectful for them to ignore both Susan and I on numerous occasions and spoke to Wesley in Tagalog.”

He made another post the day after the meeting that transpired, noting that So seemed traumatized by the meeting.

“Susan and I both felt so sorry for Wesley. This young man was physically shaken as he was not expecting this bullying session. He was in total shock. He really believed before the meeting that Mr. Pichay cares about him and will sign his consent form right there and then,” Truong said.  

“Wesley kept on repeating that he appreciates all the help from Mr. Pichay and the NCFP in the past. All he wants is to have a chance to fight for the world title, and he pleaded with Mr. Pichay to let him go,” he added.

Instead of listening to the player’s pleas, “they (Pichay and Canobas) paid no attention to what Wesley said. They kept on trying to rattle him.

“If they can do this to Wesley in front of us and others in the Olympiad VIP lounge, what will they do to him and other Filipino players behind closed doors?” Truong asked. – 

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