In 1987 Viswanathan Anand won the Junior World Championship in Baguio City in the Philippines. Little did he know that his victory then would inspire someone who would come into existence seven years after the glorious win.
Wesley So, the 17-year-old grandmaster is the Philippines' national champion. Apart from his achievements that include winning gold at the 2007 World under 16 Team Championship, his unmistakable devotion to world champion Anand is what makes him stand out.
"Ever since I started playing I used to hear a lot about Anand. I knew that he studied in my city and learnt his early chess through TV programmes in the Philippines," said the Filipino. Anand's father had been posted in the Philippines when the Indian was nine years old.
"People used to call him the strongest who cannot win the world championship," So said of his idol. Anand only became World Champion in 2007.
So's fondness for Anand can be measured by the huge collection of books he owns authored by the champion himself. "I try to apply whatever I can grasp from them. In fact, I applied his opening techniques last year at the World Open and was able to defeat world No. 5 Vassily Ivanchuk and world No. 18 Gata Kamsky to reach the fourth round,” he recollects.
As So narrates anecdotes related to Anand, one cannot help but notice the smile and the spark in his eyes, "Once National Geographic was showing how Anand used to solve chess problems during his stay at the Philippines. One thing that I learnt from that show is Anand's ability to control the aggression. That nearly swings every game to his side. I am trying to be like him.”
Caruana takes lead
Top seeded Fabiano Caruana of Italy maintained his winning streak with a third successive victory, this one over women's World champion Hou Yifan of China in the third round of the inaugural AAI Grandmasters Chess Championships on Friday.