Chess Olympiad Dresden 2008 hopes of Philippines depend on Wesley So

Wesley So leads the Olympic team of the Philippines

The Philippines’ youngest grandmaster (GM) Wesley So is expected to lead the five-man RP Team in the 38th World Chess Olympiad, which will begin on Wednesday (November 12) at the Freiberger Arena in Dresden, Germany.

It will be So’s second appearance in the world’s biggest chess competition since his Olympiad debut in Turin, Italy two years ago. The 15-year-old prodigy is currently the Philippines’ highest-rated player with an ELO of 2610. ELO is chess’ statistical rating system.

The 38th Olympiad will be marked as So’s 12th major international tournament for the year, which includes a string of sensational victories in the prestigious Dubai Open last April and in the World Under-16 Chess Team Olympiad in Mersin, Turkey last August.

So will be handling board two for the RP Team while veteran GM Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor is tasked to handle top board in the absence of GMs Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio Jr. and Mark Paragua.

Torre manned the top board for the nationals in all but two Olympiads since the 1974 Nice Olympiad, while Paragua held the fort in the Turin Olympiad in 2006.

Aside from So and Villamayor, other members of the team seeking to improve its respectable 44th-place finish in Turin are GMs Jayson Gonzales and Darwin Laylo and International Master (IM) John Paul Gomez.

Led by non-playing team captain Torre and National Chess Federation of the Philippines executive director Willie Abalos, the Filipinos will leave for Dresden on Tuesday.

The first round is scheduled on Thursday, November 13.

Multi-titled Russia, with all its team members boasting more than ELO 2700 ratings, is the top seed in the 13-round tournament which ends on November 26.

The Philippines is seeded 38th, a notch behind Southeast Asian Games rival Vietnam (37th) but well ahead of Indonesia (68th).

Source: ABS / CBN