Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wesley So: Elite US Chess Player Shares His Christian Faith

Christianity is the “thinking man’s religion”.

Wesley So: a Christian and the #2-rated chess player in the world
Wesley So: a Christian and the #2-rated chess player
in the world
Christianity Today featured an article by Wesley So, the Philippine-born grandmaster who is currently the US Chess Champion and who, for the last six months or so has been the second-highest rated chess player in the world.

I was 12 when Bobby Fischer played Boris Spassky and won the World Championship title – and I was heartbroken when he refused to play Anatoly Karpov in the next World Championship cycle, and consequently the World Chess Federation (“FIDE”) stripped him of the title. These days, I play chess informally, and someone even talked me into playing in a league, which I greatly enjoyed.

CT enabled Wesley to publish a first-hand account of his conversion to Christianity and his Christian life:

By the end of 2014, I had quit college, moved in with my foster family, and launched a professional chess career. Most importantly, I had also entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It all happened so fast that we still look back at those early days in disbelief.

Since my foster parents were mature Christians, it must have been obvious when I first moved in that my faith wasn’t as sophisticated as theirs. They never condemned me for this, but they did insist that living as a member of the family meant abiding by certain house rules and customs. I would need to read my Bible every night and faithfully accompany them to church on the weekend. Over the first few months, I would fall asleep during every sermon—not because they were boring, but because all the changes in my life were so stressful and overwhelming.

I never minded going to church, and somehow I managed to absorb real wisdom from those sermon fragments. I also got very interested in reading the little Bible I was given. Whenever I had questions I would ask my foster parents, and their answers were always simple and made good sense. They taught me how to find answers in the Bible myself and use it to check what others said. The Bible was the final authority, deeper and wiser than the internet and more truthful than any of my friends.

Before long, I was practicing my faith in a more intense way. My new family calls Christianity the “thinking man’s religion.” They encouraged me to ask questions, search for answers, and really wrestle with what I discovered. All the while, I would observe how they lived their lives, taking note of how they spent their time and money. They worked hard, they always went the extra mile to help others, and they made every effort to resist immorality. I knew I wanted the kind of simple, contented, God-fearing life they enjoyed.

Current Top 10 Chess Players in the World
Current Top 10 Chess Players in the World
The God of Everything

People in the chess world sometimes want to know whether I think God makes me win matches. Yes. And sometimes he makes me lose them too. He is the God of chess and, more importantly, the God of everything. Win or lose, I give him the glory. Of course, it’s hard when I don’t get what I want, the way it is for any child whose father says no. But even when I don’t understand God’s ways, I’m confident that his vision is much bigger than my own.

Instead of worrying about the future, I try to focus on the work God has put before me. Right now it’s chess, so I study it diligently and play it as well as possible. Will I rise to become the world champion one day? Only God knows for sure. In the meantime, I know that he is a generous and loving father, always showering me with more blessings than I could possibly deserve. I content myself with playing one match at a time and practicing gratitude for my daily bread.

Born in 1993, he’s as old as my #3 son. But Wesley So has as good a chance as anyone of becoming the next World Champion.

Read his whole story here.
Here’s a link to the list of the Top 100 chess players in the world.
Here’s a link to Wesley So’s historical rating and ranking.

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