Wesley So is probably the man who poses the most formidable threat to Magnus Carlsen's throne in the world of chess today. Yet, surprisingly, one hardly suspects that to be the case, when one listens to this 27-year-old Filipino-American champion speak. From his refreshingly unassuming mannerisms and happy demeanor, there's no way one can guess that he is the current World Champion of Fischer Random Chess, a two-time US Champion, and above all, the man who rattles Magnus's domineering presence at the top on a consistent basis.
Who can ever forget his massive 13.5-2.5 victory over Carlsen at the first official World Fischer Random Chess Championship in 2019? Not long ago he also beat the Norwegian at the finals of the Skilling Open, and yet again here he is, taming the best chess player on the planet - this time at the Opera Euro Online Rapid. Does Wesley have Magnus's number? Sagar and Amruta try to find out!
Wesley So, the champion of the Open Euro online Rapid, visited ChessBase India'sLiveCommentary Stream after winning the Opera Euro Rapid Tournament.Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal caught up with the Grandmaster, spoke to him about everything from chess preparation to playing online internet games, and really attempted to understand the secret of no secrets of this gentle genius.Following is the transcript of the revealing conversation.
Sagar Shah (SS):Congratulations Wesley on winning the tournament!People who have been following this event closely have only one question in mind: how does Wesley So do it?
Wesley So (WS):Hi Sagar and hello Amruta! Yes,I am very happy with this victory. It istotally pleasing and unexpected!
SS:Well, I wouldn't say totally unexpected. After you beat himin the Skilling Open andthe Fischer Random event before that, this result was definitely on the cards. How are you able to beat Magnus so consistently?
WS: (Laughs)I don't know. I just wait for Magnus to not be himself. He is usually very confident, plays fast, but in this tournament he hasn't really shown that! He managed to get good positionsbut was always behind in clock. For instance, in the last game, now that I am checking it, I was objectively lost.
SS:Yes, by the way, did you spot this moveKh1(diagram below)that we were commentating on and thought was really unbelievable?
WS:Yes, actually Kh1 was winning but I didn't see that during the game. I thought my position was bad anyway so if I didn't play a5-a4 it would already be quite difficult for me. My idea was simply to exchange bishops with 23.Bc2 Bg6 after whichalso Black is probably losing, but I just didn't see a better way.
In the final game Wesley was playing with the black pieces and he pushed a5-a4 on the 22nd move, here Magnus could have tipped the scales in his favor with the subtle 23.Kh1. The point is that if now 23...axb3 is played then White is able to pierce through to Black's king with 24.Rg1+. Take note, here 24...Kh8 is met with 25.e6! which decisively threatens Be5, and 24...Bg6 is taken care of by 25.Rxg6! fxg6 26.Qxg6+ etc. which forces mate in a few moves.
SS: Yeah, but I think later the star movefor you turned out to be this Qh6 which is sort of the only move to hold everything together. Did you find this easily?
WS:Yes, I think the star move was f6 because he clearly missed it. Qh6 was necessary because otherwise he would have won a piece. Probably he expected Kh8 in that position after f6, but there he can go f5 and after that if Bxf5 then Rh5 pins the queen!
After28.f4some precision was called for as Wesley's queen was en prise andhis bishop too was pinned on the g-file. The current Fischer RandomWorld Champion didn't disappoint and promptlyplayed 28...Qh6, the only correct move in the position, and after that29.Rg5 f6!came like the icing on the cake that helped him even things out with ease. Bear in mind, any other move would haveallowed 30.f5 with potentially dangerous consequences, and 29...f5 30.Bf3 Kh8 31.Rag1 etc. too would not have been particularly desirable for Black.
SS: Wonderful! so here you found f6 and that helped you win the match. In fact, today seemed relatively smooth for you with three draws and one win. But yesterday, Wesley, you played this unbelievably complex game but finally you lost it. It was this Ng5 variation of the two knight's defence. What really happened? Did you forget your Bc4 preparation?
WS:No, the funny thing is I just didn't analyseQxd4!(Laughs)
SS: You probably also have a course on this line, and you recommend this line in it, right?
WS:Yes, I have a course on the Ng5 variation. I mean it's quite complex but at the same time if you want to gain any advantage in this opening then you have to go for something concrete. I mean, you can play d3 but there are a lot of lines there, so I recommend this Ng5 and Bd3 stuff in my course. I had analysed this probably all the way till b5 and there the engine gives cxb5 as the only equalizing move, and Qxd4 is two point something in White's favour. So I didn't analyse Qxd4 at all.
Wesley himself recommends playing 4.Ng5 against the Two knight's defence in his course. Even though it leads to a lot of complications, he feels it's the only way to gain advantage against Black.
It wasfunny therefore to see him slightlyunsure about this variation. He knewit all the way up to 21.b5, and here actually Black must play 21...cxb5 to equalize. The move he played and which he hadn't analysed at home was 21...Qxd4, this according to the engine gives White a considerable advantage. "It loses to Bc4 by force,"says Wesley.
The point, as he explains, is that after 22.Bc4 Qxc3 23.Nxc3 Re8 White can simply go 24.a4 and shockingly he is only up two pawns but is already completely winning with Ba3 coming up and all Black's pieces are jammed in.
SS: But you know Wesley, the way you recovered after you lost this game was something truly special. You drew the very next game andwon the one after that. How did you do it?Magnus was in a similar situation today and he was desperately vying for a win withblack, you on the other hand handled it very calmly, played solidly withthe black pieces and pushedfor win only in the next game with White thereafter.
WS:Yes, of course with Black you usually want to play solid. But I think he was already pushing me in the second game yesterday. In the third game with the white pieces I actually decided to play for win.
SS: And today were you shocked when Magnus took Bxh4?
WS:I almost fell off my chair(Laughs). I thought may be he was playing bughouse or something! In fact, this decision also affected his third game where he avoidedtaking Bxh3.
The moment when the World Champion unexpectedly sacrificed his bishop| Photo: chess24 live stream
SS: You rightly point out that Bxh4not only led to his loss ingame 1 but also affected his game 3 where, on any other day, he would have surely continued with Bxh3. Tell us, what response did you have in store for this?
Magnus hesitated continuing with Bxh3 in the third game of second setwhich potentially could have made things harder for Wesley. The World no.1 was uncharacteristically unsure of himself at this point because onlya while ago he had lost his first game owing to a similar bishop sacrifice.
WS:I am not sure what happens after 16...Bxh3. After 17.gxh3 Qxh3 18.Bxf4Nxf4 19.Ne3 Re8, I guess I can at least make a draw with Ng5-Qh4-Nf3. Also I had Bc4 in mind with the ideaof Bf1 next.
SS:(On being pointed out by Amruta)Didn't he miss Nxg2 at some point too?
WS:Yes after 18.Qxd4. Here I thought I was losing. After 18.Qxd4 Nxg2 it's important to note that White can't take on e6 because Black has 19...Nxe1 (and fork on f3), so you go 19.Kxg2 Bxh3+ 20.Kh2 and here I couldn't find a win for Black but obviously there's something.
18...Nxg2 was a dangerous possibility that once again Magnus overlooked. Sagar pointed out adding to Wesley's analysis above that after 19.Kxg2 Bxh3+ 20.Kh2 Nh4 21.Bd1, the move Bg2 would have been absolutely decisive.
SS:So Wesley, it was a brilliant victory. Last time when you won you had a grand dinner at your place if you remember. Today is Valentine's day, any celebration plans for today?
WS:Yes, actually Lotis (Wesley's adoptive mother) is here, she is cooking. She madeSiopaowhich is a Filipino-Chinese dish, alsothere are sausages.We usually do movie nights during the weekends, so today we will watch some shows and also tomorrow. It's actually extremely cold here in Minnesota. Can you guess the temperature here?
SS: Is it minus 10 degree Celsius?
WS:Oh no! it's negative thirty-eight!
SS:Oh my god! What happens then whenyou step outside your home?
WS:Well, I immediately run back in!(all laughing).
You can't really go outside without a thick jacket on. So we will stay inside watch some movies and trynot to do chess, because these last fewdays have been quite stressful.
Wesley also gives a glimpse of the snow outside his house to Amruta and Sagar!
SS: Yes, I think these tournaments take so much from you. But in this tournament, we have been saying this throughout, in terms of accuracy you have been second to none. You even beat Radjabov who was going really solid in this event, so just want to ask you what's the secret of performing so well in these online events?
WS:Of course you need a bit of luck. The outcome always depends on how your opponent plays. Before the event I did some serious preparation also.A week of opening preparation, studying my opponent's games, studying games from the Tata Steel event. I also played online games in various websites and then just a few days before the event I tended to relax more andthat seemed to work out well. As a player, I always say, you just want to play good chess andnot think of the results too much. It's hard to say what exactly works. Normally, the explanation is you need discipline and preparation.
SS:Whenit comes to discipline and preparation Wesley So is definitely the epitome of that. Tremendous dedication and focus. But Wesley, we are still waiting for the "Among Us" stream that you had promised earlier. Everyone was shocked to hear that you would play Among Us, but then it never happened, right?
WS:Yes, we should do it. Do you have it installed on your computer?
SS:I would definitely install it if you are going to play. The thing is I have never played it, Anish Giri too hasn't played it. Vidit of course playsit regularly.But if you're going to do it,I will definitely do it.
WS:I actually also have a Steam account!
SS:Oh you also have a Steam account. Well then we will definitely do it if you're planning to play.
WS:Yes, actually I was waiting for your email related to it! (smiles)
Amruta Mokal (AM):Everyone in the chat is saying"R a yaar ye kitna humble hai!"They are sending hearts and are really pleased by you.
WS:Well, I am not theWorld Champion yet, okay Fischer RandomChampion maybe, but there are still players out there who are stronger than I am.
SS:Well, I am sure your humility wouldn't change even if you became the World Champion one day!
AM:You said two weeks you really prepared hard. How was your routine exactly? What did you do for your physical fitness?
WS:After the pandemic hit I lost motivation and didn't work much, but now as many online events are popping up I am getting into shape. I have been working quite a bit - at leastfour to five hours per day looking at opponent's games, trying to understand what they are up to. Also my work with Chessable helped me.In terms of physical fitness it's difficult to do much if the temperature outside isminus thirty-eight degrees, but I do swim regularly, there's an indoor pool nearby.
AM: And finally before leaving which moviesare you watching currently. Is there a plan?
SS:Actually, we are watching a great British television show calledAll Creatures Great And Small. You too should check it out.
On special request from the chat Wesley also showed his cat before leaving. Check out the full video below!
Humble Wesley So on how he beat Magnus Carlsen and won the Opera Euro Rapid!
- Overthinking the silence - Chessbase News - June 11th, 2021
- Jan Werle: Beat the King's Indian - Chessbase News - June 11th, 2021
- Alethea AI and artist Robert Alice launch Sothebys auction of the first intelligent NFT - VentureBeat - June 11th, 2021
- How Philipp Grubauer used blood, sweat and technology to launch the Avalanches Stanley Cup run: Ive never seen a goalie do that - The Denver Post - June 11th, 2021
- NBA playoffs 2021 - What could shift Jazz-Clippers and every conference semifinal series - ESPN - June 11th, 2021
- The Supercar/Hypercar Wars Continue, But The Roadster Still Has An Ace Up Its Sleeve - CleanTechnica - May 30th, 2021
- Slitherine announces a plethora of new wargames at 'Home of Wargamers 2021' - The Next Web - May 18th, 2021
- How Stupid Does Governor Whitmer Think Michiganders Are? - wbckfm.com - May 18th, 2021
- Mad pawns can save the day - Chessbase News - Chessbase News - May 5th, 2021
- Reality is irreversible - The Monthly - May 5th, 2021
- ASTRA Reveals 2021 Best Toys for Kids Finalists The Toy Book - The Toy Book - May 5th, 2021
- Is Bioelectricity the Key to Limb Regeneration? - The New Yorker - May 5th, 2021
- The ultimate staycation treat - charter a 1m superyacht, and it's based here in Gosport - Portsmouth News - May 5th, 2021
- Chess.com's New Events Feature, The Perfect Platform To Follow The Candidates - Chess.com - April 21st, 2021
- Turing AI: 'We can help develop a product in an eighth of the time, minimum' - FoodNavigator.com - April 21st, 2021
- The Machines Gambit - The Good Men Project - April 5th, 2021
- A sandwich, a beer and ... here's what you see on TV (and what to avoid) - Prudent Press Agency - April 5th, 2021
- Spurning the morsel - Chessbase News - April 5th, 2021
- Is AI Next in REI Education? - Think Realty - April 5th, 2021
- The IBM 305 Ramac: The secret grandfather of Deep Blue? - Chessbase News - March 9th, 2021
- Feeding the flames - Chessbase News - March 9th, 2021
- NEW - Andrew Martin: The Grnfeld Formula - Chessbase News - March 9th, 2021
- War Of The Wingmen: New Robot Fighters Promise To Transform Aerial Combat - Forbes - March 9th, 2021
- Businesses offer help as problems remain in Texas from winter storm - Yahoo News - February 20th, 2021
- Wet Start To The Weekend - Yahoo News - February 20th, 2021
- Chess and Artificial Intelligence (2) - Chessbase News - February 17th, 2021
- Five Issues Washington Should Consider In Reviewing A Lockheed-Aerojet Merger - Forbes - February 17th, 2021
- Artificial Intelligence And The End Of Work - Forbes - February 17th, 2021
- Why Ricciardo said 'yes' to McLaren the second time they asked RaceFans - RaceFans - February 17th, 2021
- Opera Euro Rapid SF: Carlsen and So reach the final - Chessbase News - February 15th, 2021
- Letters: 'Darlington Borough Council has a terrible record of looking after heritage sites, maybe they shouldn't keep Locomotion No 1' - The Northern... - February 12th, 2021
- Fat Fritz 2.0 - The new number 1 - Chessbase News - February 10th, 2021
- 25 Years Ago, Chess Changed Forever When Deep Blue Beat Garry Kasparov - Slate - February 10th, 2021
- Chess In The COVID Era | Webster Kirkwood Times | timesnewspapers.com - Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc. - February 10th, 2021
- 10 Things We Want From The Legend Of Zelda's 35th Anniversary - TheGamer - February 7th, 2021
- Travis Kelce is the best tight end in football. Just ask any NFL player. - The Union Leader - February 7th, 2021
- 120 things you probably didn't know were created by Black inventors | Venture - Daily Hive - February 6th, 2021
- Red Sox Truck Day approaches and theres a different feeling in the air - BoSox Injection - February 4th, 2021
- The future is augmented - The Bookseller - February 4th, 2021
- How to Use a Chess Engine? Your Quick & Effective Guide - February 3rd, 2021
- Stockfish+NNUE, Strongest Chess Engine Ever, To Compete In ... - February 3rd, 2021
- Top Chess Engine Championship - Wikipedia - January 30th, 2021
- Building My Own Chess Engine Andrew Healey - January 30th, 2021
- Stockfish Chess Engine Download - softpedia - January 30th, 2021
- Play Online Chess at Caissa's Web - January 30th, 2021
- Alto AMT Should it be back? - MotorOctane - MotorOctane - January 30th, 2021
- Does the rift in AI matter to marketing? - MarTech Today - January 30th, 2021
- Scientists say dropping acid can help with social anxiety and alcoholism - The Next Web - January 28th, 2021
- Meet Yash Aradhya, a Bengaluru Formula 4 racer and a recipient of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar - EdexLive - January 25th, 2021
- Dancing, vacuuming, learning: What's next for robots and their creators? - ASU Now - January 23rd, 2021
- Signature Theatre announces cast and dates for 'Simply Sondheim' review - DC Metro Theater Arts - January 23rd, 2021
- SwitchArcade Round-Up: 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World', 'Shadow Gangs', and Today's Other New Releases and Sales - Touch Arcade - January 15th, 2021
- Their Uniforms Say Ohio State and Alabama. The Players Are From Everywhere. - The Wall Street Journal - January 13th, 2021
- Ziggurat Interactive Releases First Retro First Friday Pack Of 2021 - Bleeding Cool News - January 9th, 2021
- TV tonight: another day in paradise for detective Ralf Little - The Guardian - January 9th, 2021
- The Board Games Global Market is Expected to Grow at a CAGR of 13% Between 2021 to 2026 - Yahoo Finance - January 6th, 2021
- 50 Best TV Shows To Watch In 2021 - Highest Rated Television Series - OtakuKart - OtakuKart - December 29th, 2020
- Red Bull think they have secret weapon to catch Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas | F1 | Sport - TechnoCodex - December 23rd, 2020
- HBO's Industry creators and Myha'la Herrold break down season 1 finale - Entertainment Weekly - December 22nd, 2020
- Research at Microsoft 2020: Addressing the present while looking to the future - Microsoft - December 22nd, 2020
- Deals of the Week, December 11 to 18 Growth Business roundup - GrowthBusiness.co.uk - December 18th, 2020
- Turns Out Its Pretty Good: Doomscrolling - The Cut - December 18th, 2020
- A Letter to My Kids - The Good Men Project - December 15th, 2020
- Yakuza Remastered Collection On The Way For Xbox & PC - Bleeding Cool News - December 13th, 2020
- Hitman 3 Gets A New Trailer Showing Off The Features - Bleeding Cool News - December 9th, 2020
- Reflections on 40 years: thanks for the memories (we can remember) - NOLA.com - December 9th, 2020
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X Review: The Pricing Conundrum - Tom's Hardware - December 8th, 2020
- AI has almost solved one of biologys greatest challenges how protein unfolds - ThePrint - December 8th, 2020
- Demis Hassabis interview: the kid from the comp who founded DeepMind and cracked a mighty riddle of science - The Times - December 6th, 2020
- Online Chess and Working from Home - Chessbase News - December 5th, 2020
- Full Fischer film in YouTube - Chessbase News - December 5th, 2020
- New C360 CEO Howard Wright Sees Broadcast Tech Putting Fans on the Field of Play - Sports Video Group - December 5th, 2020
- This is what would happen if a Hind took on a Cobra - We Are The Mighty - December 5th, 2020
- Hyundai Takes The Wraps Off Its E-GMP Electric Car Platform - CleanTechnica - December 3rd, 2020
- Top 9 Reasons to Rent an RV when you traveling - The Dubrovnik Times - December 3rd, 2020
- Akron flashback: Some childhood toys you never forget - Akron Beacon Journal - December 1st, 2020
- 24 Comments on GM is Paying Cadillac Dealers to Ditch the Brand... - The Truth About Cars - November 29th, 2020
- Skilling Open QF2: Day of the Comebacks - chess24 - November 27th, 2020
- Jelurida Announces Bridge Champ, an On-Chain Version of the Famous Card Game - IT News Online - November 27th, 2020
- The 37 Best Black Friday Smart Home and Kitchen Deals (2020) - WIRED - November 27th, 2020