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
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.