The 2015 U.S. Championship will see the first participation from Grandmaster Wesley So, who recently transferred to the U.S. Chess Federation from his home Philippines. His arrival to the USCF was synonymous with his arrival as one of the World’s top-10 players, and So has already begun pushing the envelope to become the nation’s highest-rated GM -- a title Hikaru Nakamura has owned for years.
So learned chess from his father at age 6 and was competing in junior tournaments by 9 years old. By earning his Grandmaster title at the age of 14 years, 1 month, and 28 days, So completed the trifecta as the Philippines’ youngest-ever National Champion, International Master and Grandmaster. Considered a chess prodigy, he is the eighth-youngest GM in the world.
So came to the U.S. in August 2012, enrolling at Webster University in St. Louis to be guided by Susan Polgar and her SPICE Program. There, he made the jump from top-100 to top-10 in the world, entrenching Webster as a powerhouse collegiate program and leading the school to back-to-back national titles along the way.
Last October, So won the inaugural Millionaire Open in Las Vegas along with its $100,000 prize, then returned to St. Louis to lead the Arch Bishops to their first-ever U.S. Chess League championship.
So participated in his first world-elite tournament with a fourth-place effort in 2014 at the 77th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Holland, though returned this past January and tied for second place, just a half-point behind winner World Champion Magnus Carlsen.