Super Chess Grandmaster Wesley So officially became a U.S. Citizen on February 26, 2021. While originally hailing from Bacoor, Cavite in the Philippines, the chess wiz eventually migrated to the United States where he continued to progress and flourish in the sport.
In an interview discussing the change in citizenship with Debbie Cannon of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, So expressed his appreciation for the country that supported his sport: “I want to give back to a country that has been so good to me. From the moment I landed here, I was encouraged and enabled to become better than I was.” The chess prodigy originally arrived in the West in 2012 as a freshman recruit for Webster University. He then went on to share first place at the Reykjavik Open (considered the second best open tournament of the year in the world) and won gold at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia.
In 2014, So’s transfer to the U.S. became official as he moved to Minnetonka, Minnesota under the care of a foster family.
He has considered himself as a true testament to the “American Dream”, where success is not held back by “your color, lack of connections, or the amount of money you have.” For So, working hard was simply enough for him to climb the ranks.
“If you work hard, you have a better chance of making it here than anywhere else in the world. I came here ready to work hard, and it turned out just as I dreamed.”
He did not forget his mother country, however. “That does not mean I don’t love the Philippines,” said the 27-year old. “I have good memories from there. But I did not have the connections needed to succeed in that culture. I was from the province, not the city boy.”
So is currently ranked at the No. 9 spot in the world; he is also a two-time U.S. National Champion and the current World Fischer Chess Champion.