Minnesota grandmaster reclaims crown as US chess champion

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Minnesota is home to the reigning U.S. chess champion once again. Despite preferring to play "over the board" — chess speak for in-person — Wesley So recently became a US champion for the second time while playing virtually.

“It’s been an exciting new experience and I think the players are getting more used to it,” So told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

So, who now lives in Shoreview, grew up in the Philippines and became a chess grandmaster at the age of 14. He’s the seventh-youngest person ever to hold the title. He moved to the United States at 18 and quickly became one of the world’s top players.

In October, he edged out fellow grandmaster Jeffery Xiong with a score of 9.5/11 to win the U.S. Chess Championship for the second time.

The pandemic almost put the tournament, based in St. Louis and hosted by the Saint Louis Chess Club, on hold. But organizers decided to hold the event virtually. So said it went well.

While there are new challenges, So said there is also new opportunity for players of all ages to improve their game. With more time on our hands as we stay safe at home, to the access players have to online games, So said now is a great time to improve your skills.

“You should just enjoy what you’re doing, and practice, and analyze your games,” So said. “Do not depend on the computer that much, but depend more on your skills and abilities.”

While most games and lessons are offered online now, So said he still reads chess books and suggests you do as well if you plan to play as well as a champ.