Lipa City, Batangas
July 5, 2014
So it’s official.
Recently, we were floored by two rainmakers straight from the horse’s mouth, which on this case is Wesley So’s Webster U coach Susan Polgar. The first one was when So declined to play top board for the Phl team in the 41st World Chess Olympiad set from Aug. 1-15 in Tromso, Norway. The second, and most devastating of all, was when he re-iterated his earlier decision to coach the United States chess team instead.
Here’s Polgar statement she posted on her site Susanpolgar.blogspot.com:
“Update: Wesley just received an email today, July 3, 2014, from the NCFP Secretariat about the upcoming Chess Olympiad, with the attachment of an official communication letter from Chairman Pichay to PSC Chairman Garcia on the official team composition of players and coaches of the Philippines in the upcoming Chess Olympiad (which includes Wesley, Oliver Barbosa, Julio Saddora, Eugenio Torre, and John Paul Gomez). This is more than a month after the submission deadline for the Tromsø Chess Olympiad.
Wesley immediately responded to Chairman Pichay restating that he did make 2 requests to transfer federation (last November and again a little more than a month ago). He officially declined his official invitation today (July 3, 2014), the same day he received the email, and reaffirmed to Chairman Pichay his duty as coach of the US team after he failed to hear anything from the NCFP after the June 1, 2014 deadline to submit a roster for the Chess Olympiad.
In the same email, Wesley also made the third request to Chairman Pichay for consent to immediately switch federation to the US. It is now up to Chairman Pichay and the NCFP to decide what course of action to take.”
And then Phl sports, not just chess, suffered a double blackeye.
Without So, the Phl team will have to make do with a line-up consisting of GMs Oliver Barbosa, Julio Catalino Sadorra, John Paul Gomez, Eugene Torre and newly-minted 16-year-old International Master Paulo Bersamina, who will fill the void left by So, according to NCFP executive director and the Phl’s non-playing captain GM Jayson Gonzales. Bersamina will make the team on the strength of his third place finish in the Battle of GMs behind the vintage Torre and Gomez. For those of you who don’t know Bersamina, he recently achieved IM status with a strong effort in Macau. It’s a classic case of replacing the past, who is So, with perhaps the future, who in this case is Bersamina. With the proper training and funding, this teen phenom could turn out to be So…with a prayer that he will not do a So.
As Sportsmaryosep had already chronicled, So claimed he has filed the documents of his transfer to the US chess federation as early as last year and he hasked the NCFP for a release, which as of this writing has fallen on deaf ears. But a chess expert whispered to me that there is still no official letter from FIDE, or the international chess federation, of such transfer. He told me Polgar could be fooling us all. Like for example, Polgar said one of the reasons So declined to play for his homeland is that the June 1 deadline for submission of Olympiad entries had lapsed. NCFP though blied this by saying it has already submitted its roster with So’s name in it even before the deadline had passed. Here’s what our source told The Philippine STAR, philstar.com and Sportsmaryosep: “She is fooling us all. Truth is, Wesley So has no application for transfer in the FIDE website. NCFP has also no letter from Wesley. The letter that Polgar released has no date.”
Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: Whatever hidden motive Polgar and Wesley have, we don’t really care. But the damage has been done. No matter how many sugar-coating you put as your reasons for switching federations, it is still a form of betrayal to flag and country. Granted that you were maltreated by our officials due to politics by not recognizing your gold medal feat in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia thus depriving you of incentives set to have worth P1 million. And you studying at Webster U in St. Louis and your family migrating to Canada. Switching federations is no solution. While you have unmasked what the NCFP and its president Butch Pichay did wrong, you also hurt the rest of us Filipinos looking up to you in the process. And to you Susan, don’t use our countrymen working abroad as a smokescreen of your sorry excuse. They’re not there to make the Top 10 in the world rankings or to become world champions. But hey, it’s your life. Don’t worry, Wesley, whatever you do from now and whatever have you become, you will always have a place in my heart. And thank you for giving us all an inspiration that we can all reach for the stars and grab it like you did. As for our officials, don’t make this same mistake again. We just lost a national treasure, which I personally believe is a crime.
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