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Back to the Wesley So sob story

/ 12:59 AM February 07, 2015

THE LITTLE likelihood of a matchup between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao got us fooled again.

We allowed a boxing moro-moro dictate the sports cycle once more when we should have spiked it as dicey news.

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Meanwhile, more notable developments escaped our attention and deserved to be revisited.

Take Grandmaster Wesley So’s recent change of loyalty from Philippine to American chess and its predictable outcome.

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When the 21-year-old So flew the coop, palpable outrage engulfed local chess players and followers.

There was even talk of rebellion or pockets of it in the National Chess Federation of the Philippines as soon as So left the NCFP to play under the United States Chess Federation.

With Mayweather versus Pacquiao getting in the way, emotions have cooled down over chess concerns.

Some people, though, are still hot under the collar and blame sports honchos, particularly the NCFP for allowing So—currently ranked No. 7 in the world—to be poached handily by a superpower.

Without elaboration, Fide national instructor and chess columnist Ely Tumbaga said So got disenchanted with local sports politics.

“The bigger issue is not just the maltreatment [of So] … but the lack of concern for all chess players in the country,” charged Tumbaga, a former sportswriter for a major daily newspaper.

So’s relationship with the NCFP soured after he played unsanctioned by his national sports association at the 2013 World University Games in Russia where he topped a formidable field.

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Coming home with the gold medal, So was a cinch for a financial stimulus, or so he thought.

But he got neither an official stamp nor a reward because the Universiade was not in the Philippine Sports Commission’s list of foreign forays where medal winners are eligible for monetary incentive.

Breaking his silence, NCFP president Prospero Pichay Jr. said a perestroika is not needed in his NSA, thank you.

He also took the high road regarding So.

Pichay said: “We at NCFP stand tall because … we have produced one of the best players in the world. We are behind him in his quest to become No. 1.”

Insisting that So’s choice was a “career move,” and not about money, Pichay had a sobering message to chess diehards.

Snap out of it. So’s gone and is now playing what former world champion Gary Kasparov calls a “game of mental torture” for America.

Incidentally, Kasparov is believed to be behind a new £1-million (P67.7 million) chess tournament featuring 10 of the world’s top players, including So, who promptly turned professional after a short stint as a player for Webster University.

* * *

From veteran editor Zip Roxas comes a political chess note.

Zip posted on Facebook about Vice President Jojo Binay’s challenge to resigned national police chief Alan Purisima “to come clean” about his role in the tragic Special Action Force 44 massacre.

“Whoa, isn’t this like the pot calling the kettle black?” asked Zip. Despite being tagged corrupt, Binay has refused to face his accusers.

“OK, no loss of human lives here,” said Zip.  “Methinks that in advising Purisima to face the music, Jojo was acting at the behest of his own media advisers to divert the flak…”

“If that were so, he should have taken a page from the Broadway musical “West Side Story” and told his spin doctor “Toby, we got troubles of our own!”

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TAGS: chess players, NCFP, players, Wesley So
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