So far, so good

  • Written by Ed Andaya
  • Published in Other Sports
  • Read: 657

WORLD championship candidate GM Wesley So is  looking forward to a better year in 2018.

So, who left the country to  pursue his dream of becoming a world champion while representing
the United States,  will get his much-awaited chance  to challenge for the world title  currently
held by GM Magnus Carslen of  Norway  when he plays in the Candidates tournament in Berlin Germany  
on March 10-28.
The 24-year-old Bacoor, Cavite-born So  earned the right to play in the final world
championship cycle  organized by  FIDE after getting the highest average rating of all 12  players in
the wait list of those who did not qualify via the  direct qualification routes like the World Cup
and FIDE Grand Prix.
So, who is now based  in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and  World Chess Olympiad teammate  GM
Fabiano Caruana earned  automatic slots in the Candidates after  former world champion GM Vladimir
Kramnik of Russia was named a wild card candidate by the organizers.
So, Caruana and Kramnik  will  join GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia, who made it  as the losing
finalist to Carlsen in their world title match  two years ago and  World Cup champion Levon Aronian
of Armenia and runner-up Ding Liren of China and 2017 FIDE Grand Prix top two finishers  GM  
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and GM  Alexandr GRischuk of Russia.
The winner  in the eight-player, double-round robin tournament  spread over 18 days will earn
the  right  to  challenge  Carlsen in the 12-game World Championship set at a still unspecified venue
next year.
Reserve layers are the next highest placed player in the Grand Prix -- GM Teimour Radjabov of
Azerbaijan  and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of   France.
In the last world championship match, Carlsen needed four tiebreak games with shorter time
control to beat  Karjakin  and retain the  title.
So,  regarded as one of the biggest threats to Carlsen’s crown,  reached as high as No. 2 in
the world list   for four consecutive months from March to  June with a high ELO rating of  2822 in
March and April 2017.
So, the  2013 Kazan Universiade gold medalist,   dropped to No. 8 in September with an ELO of
He opened the new year 2018 at No 6 overall with the same ELO  2792 behind only Carlsen  (ELO
2834),  Caruana ( ELO 2811),  Mamedyarov ( ELO 2804),  Aronian (ELO 2797), and Vachier-Lagrave ( ELO
Among Filipino players,  GM Oliver  Barbosa  has the  highest rating with an ELO of 2545.
GM Julio Catalino Sadorra  is second with an  ELO of 2539, followed  by  GM Mark Paragua in  
third   with an ELO of  2521  and GM Joseph  Sanchez  in fourth   with an ELO  of 2476.  
Interestingly, all  four players are currently based  abroad, with Barbosa,  Sadorra and  
Paragua now  living in  the US and Sanchez in Italy.
GM  John Paul Gomez is fifth with  an ELO of  2461.
Completing the country’s top 10  are Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre  (ELO  2460),  GM  Rogelio
Antonio, Jr. ( ELO 2452) and   GM  Rogelio Barcenilla  Jr. (ELO 2452), GM Richard Bitoon ( ELO 2450)
and   IM Oliver Dimakiling ( ELO 2441).  
The highest-rated  female player is WGM  Janelle  Mae  Frayna, who is ranked No. 41 with  an
ELO of 2275.
WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda is next with  an ELO  of 2139.