So Overcomes Odds, Wins World University Championship

| July 15, 2013
First place winner Wesley So, center, xxxxx

Webster’s Wesley So, center, wins the Gold Medal at 2013 World University Championship in Kazan, Russia.

After nine grueling rounds in Kazan, Russia, Webster sophomore and chess grandmaster Wesley So finished in a nine-way tie for first place at the 2013 World University Championship.

The finalists included three players representing China, three representing Russia, one from Armenia, one from Poland and So representing Webster University and the Philippines.

As there were only three medals in play — Gold, Silver, and Bronze — the organizer scrambled to figure out the technical tie breaks for the order of standings. After careful calculations, this was the sequence:

  • After the first tie break criteria, So and former World Junior Champion, grandmaster Zaven Andriasian of Armenia, were tied. This meant that the other seven players who tied for first were eliminated for the Gold and Silver.
  • After the second tie break criteria, So and¬†Andriasian remained tied for first.
As the Gold Medalist and World University Champion, Wesley was at the podium to receive his award. Instead of wearing his Filipino National Team Jacket (all athletes in this event wear their national uniforms since this is comparable to the Olympics), Wesley decided to wear his "lucky" Webster University Chess Team Jacket. It is a great publicity for Webster U because the official photograph can be seen worldwide.

So wore his “lucky” Webster University Chess team jacket on the podium to receive his Gold Medal.

Then came the surprising request for So to play a one-game Armageddon playoff against¬†Andriasian for the Gold medal and world title. This was not in the rule book. So’s coach, Susan Polgar, was not able to travel with him, and therefore could not lodge a formal protest. Because of this, the one-game, winner-takes-all had to take place.

“This is like a battle between David and Goliath,” said Paul Truong, director of marketing for SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence). “Other top chess playing nations like Russia, China, Armenia and Poland, etc., sent large delegations of players and coaches who work and play in teams for the title. Therefore, it is a huge handicap to compete alone.”

So lost the coin toss determining who got the first move advantage of having white in this playoff game. He fought valiantly, and after 51 intense moves his opponent resigned as checkmate was inevitable, giving So the World University Championship title and the Gold medal.

A few weeks ago, incoming Webster freshman and grandmaster Le Quang Liem won the World Blitz Championship, making this is a second world title to Webster University team members in the past 30 days.

So’s roommate, grandmaster Ray Robson, is heading to China July 16 to lead the U.S. national team against powerful China in a friendly match. Robson, So and Liem all head to Tromso, Norway, in about three weeks to compete in the World Cup. This is the first time that three players from the same American university qualified for this prestigious event at the same time.

Read July 16 article about Wesley So’s success on PhilBoxing.com, Phillipines Strike Gold in 27th Summer Universaide!”

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