In a serious blow to Philippine chess, their numero uno and current world number fifteen (in the June 2014 list), GM Wesley So, will be switching to the US Federation. Not only is he switching feds, he is also becoming a US citizen.
But, as we might guess, the Philippines' national chess body isn't making it easy. The National Chess Federation of the Philippines boss, Butch Pichay, is apparently just stonewalling Wesley's request to be granted the move.
That leaves So with two choices.
Either he hands over a hefty compo to the Philippine federation of 50,000 euros, or he sits out 2 years before finally being listed in the US ranking and, therefore, competing as an American. That is going to be tough for the kid who could seriously, one day hopefully, challenge for the world championships.
Of course, while this is all obviously very bad for the Pinoy men's team, as they lose their main attack in team events, notably the Olympiad, the move by So to the US can only be good for his chess. And looking at comments on Susan Polgar's blog, one gets the impression that most So fans support his move. I certainly do. After all, why stick with a federation that isn't doing much for your chess?
For the NCFP, the flight of a top GM away from their fold may still continue. The second highest ranked Pinoy player, GM Julio Sadorra, only the third Pinoy player to break the magic 2600 mark, could also make a similar US-bound move. This wouldn't surprise me.