defeated Alexander Onischuk by way of a rapid playoff tiebreak. His new championship title
came after winning three games and drew eight games in all in the final round. With the win, So bagged the US$50,000 grand prize for the 2017 championship.
The 23-year-old Filipino-American competed with 12 top US chess players who are all ranking members of the US Chess Federation from March 29 to April 19, 2017.
The Top 6 contestants and their corresponding ranking include: Wesley So (Champion), Alexander Onischuk (No.2), Varuzhan Akobian (No.3), Hikaru Nakamura (No.4), Fabiano Carhuana (No.5) and Yaroslav Zherebukh (No.6).
So won the coveted title after three attempts since 2015. It was his first major victory after joining the US Chess Federation in 2014. So has won major world tournaments representing the Philippines before moving to the US with adoptive parents Lotis Key and husband, Renato Kabigting in Minnesota.
In the Philippines, So achieved his third and final Grandmaster norm on December 8, 2007. He started playing and competing at age 9 and has been traveling and competing in youth world tournaments in his adolescence after becoming the youngest Filipino Grandmaster at the age of 14 to become the seventh youngest to reach the title.
So has participated in five Chess Olympiads representing the Philippines with his debut at the Turin Olympiad in 2006. The Fil-Am chess genius has represented the US in the chess Olympiad since 2016.
So was born in Bacoor, Cavite in 1993 and studied at the Jesus Good Shepherd School and later to St. Francis of Assisi College in Bacoor.
“I really wanted to win this one this year … because it’s the strongest national competition in the world,” So said
. “All the great players have won this one.” he added.
After a brief rest, So will fly to Azerbaijan to compete in the Gashimov Memorial 2017 tournament (Shamkir Chess 2017) from April 20 to May 1, 2017.
The annual tournament is being held in memory of Vugar Gashimov, a young Grandmaster from Azerbaijan, who died at the age of 27 after a lingering illness.