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Wesley So Lectures at the Mechanics' Institute Print E-mail
By IM John Donaldson   
February 13, 2015
Grandmasters Daniel Naroditsky and Wesley So with Mechanics' Institute Executive Director Ralph Lewin. Photo by Richard Hack
Grandmaster Wesley So, currently rated number seven in the world, gave a well-received lecture to an audience of approximately 80 players at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club of San Francisco on February 10th.  Among those in the audience were USCF President Ruth Haring and Grandmasters Sam Shankland, Daniel Naroditsky and Nick de Firmian.

The topic of Wesley's talk was his games with Black from the Tata Steel in which faced 1.e4 and answered 1...e5. These included his victory over Vassily Ivanchuk and draw with Fabiano Caruana.

Following the lecture Grandmaster So took questions from the audience. Here are his answers to two of them.

Q: Do you believe the time control should be speeded up because well-prepared players today often blitz out the first 15-20 moves?

A: No. It's true that sometimes your preparation appears on the board deep into the game (see for example Ding Liren - So, Tata Steel 2015), but that is not always the case. There is so much to remember these days that it can be difficult to recall the exact move order in a given variation. Just a slightly different sequence can make for big differences. Also you may face an opponent that just wants to play chess and opens 1.g3 or 1.b3 in which case you may need all your time.

Q: Can you give general advice how to improve?

A: Play over the games of the World Champion Magnus Carlsen. You can learn much from them. He has no real weaknesses. Imagine what it was like for Anand to play two matches with him!

Grandmasters Wesley So and Sam Shankland with Grandmaster of Girl Scout cookie sales Fianna McCarty-Snead. Photo Sarah McCarty-Snead.

So, who is the latest in a long list of top chess players who have lectured at the Mechanics' including all World Champions from Lasker to Karpov except Botvinnik, made a very favorable impression on members of the nation's oldest chess club (founded in 1854) who liked his down to earth manner and sense of humor. American is lucky that it has such fine ambassadors for the game in its two world top ten players Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So.

Grandmaster So's lecture preceded round six of the 120-player Tuesday Night Marathon, a weekly 8-round Swiss. Those interested in learning more about the Mechanics' Chess Club may wish to visit its website at www.chessclub.org . Upcoming events include a blitz tournament with $1000 in guaranteed prizes plus free books to all contestants on February 21st and a scholastic tournament in Golden Gate Park on March 28th  with no entry fee.