Wesley So leaves Polgar, turns pro

Ignacio Dee
Wesley So leaves Polgar, turns pro
Webster University coach Susan Polgar is mum on the specifics of So's departure but wishes the grandmaster the best

MANILA, Philippines – Wesley So cut his ties with his Webster University coach who transformed him from an ordinary grandmaster to number 14 in the world. Susan Polgar, his coach, announced on her blog that So will become a professional.

“While I cannot speak about the specifics of his abrupt departure, all his teammates and I wish him the best,” said the Hungarian-born Polgar, a former women’s world chess champion.

Polgar did not say when So made the decision to leave Webster University but a source familiar with the story said So decided the break “around last month.” This means So has quit his business course at Webster, where he is in his third year.

The 21-year-old So entered the US Chess Federation rating list in November after the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) did not oppose his plan to play for the United States.

However, So could only play in events leading up to the world chess championship only in 2016, regulation of the World Chess Federation state.

It is the latest twist in So’s tale that began in November 2013 when he wrote the NCFP that he wanted to go to the US because he saw no future if he stayed with the Philippine chess body.

This culminated in So asking for his release and refusing to play for the Philippines in the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Norway. A meeting between NCFP president Prospero Pichay and vice president Ruel Canobas with Polgar and her husband Paul Truong ended badly, according to reports.

So has not replied to an email query from Rappler and NCFP president Prospero Pichay Jr could not be reached for comment.

But an NCFP source said So’s break with Susan Polgar was to be expected. ”He is 21 and wants to try his luck to become a professional,” the source said. As to whether So has learned enough in his two-year stay with Polgar to contend for the world championship, the source said: ”Only time will tell if this decision will be correct.”

Polgar said she has done everything to improve So’s potential. “We did everything we could to help Wesley reach the top 10 in the world, break the 2760 mark, win Millionaire Chess, along with many big tournaments in the past 2 years. After nearly 2.5 years of training at SPICE, now is the time for him to show what he is made of,” she said in her blog.

So’s first big tournament after leaving Polgar will be the Tata Steel Tournament in the Netherlands in January. He will be meeting the elite, led by world champion Magnus Carlsen and world no.2 Fabiano Caruana of Italy. – Rappler.com

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