By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – In a tournament in which nothing seems to go right, Wesley so suffered the ultimate ignominy, defaulting his 9th round game in what amounts to a rookie mistake in the US Chess Championships in Saint Louis.
So was declared to have defaulted his game with Varuszhan Akobian when he wrote on a piece of paper, instead of the official score sheet, in violation of tournament rules.
The 21-year-old So, who has lost more game in a single tournament than any other in his career, wrote a seemingly harmless note to himself and left it lying down on his table.
He wrote, ” Double check. Triple check. Use your time.”
“I have been having trouble concentrating so I wrote a note to myself on a piece of paper (not my score sheet),” So explained in a Facebook posting.
According to Chief Arbiter Tony Rich, So wrote “words of general encouragement and advice” to himself on a piece of paper below his score sheet, which FIDE rules forbid.
So forfeited the game after only six moves and one hour of play.
Rich said he warned So twice earlier about writing notes to himself and it was his third offense.
“I mentioned to Wesley twice earlier in the event that using notes or other sources of information is not allowed and strictly forbidden, according to the FIDE laws of chess,” Rich said in the US Chess Federation website.
“After the second warning, I notified Wesley that, if it happened again, I would be required to forfeit him. Unfortunately, that was the decision that I had to make: Wesley’s round 9 game was forfeited.”
The incident triggered debate in Twitter and other social media, with many chess players and enthusiasts weighing in, but many blamed So who is a veteran player and one of the world’s Top 10.
However, he has been dealing with distracting family issues, that have prevented him from concentrating on his game.
Tournament leader Hikaru Nakamura drew with Timu Gareev going into his crucial encounter with second-placer Ray Robson, who also drew with San Sevian.
Nakamura has 6.5/9 while Robson has 6/9 points in the $175,000 tournament, which offers $45,000 to the top placer.