Written by (WIM) Raluca Sgircea
Chess is slowly gaining popularity in the small island of Puerto Rico. More and more kids are attracted by the game and start taking it seriously. The growing interest and competitiveness is probably the reason why Puerto Rico has so many young talented chess players. For almost two months, we have been lucky enough to be part of the chess community here and we can say that there is always some chess event going on!
The reigning national champion (in every possible category – women, open and juniors), (WIM) Danitza Vazquez, aged 15, is doing a great job promoting chess in Puerto Rico. For the holidays, she held a simultaneous exhibition where players of all ages tried to make a good result against the talented youngster.
In January, all chess enthusiasts were invited by Renier to a two-hour training session followed by a simultaneous in a very popular place: Le Petit Bistro, located in the mall Plaza Las Americas of San Juan. The bistro is a place where any chess enthusiast can enjoy a game of chess; it provides chess sets and plenty of boards to sit down to and wait for your next opponent.
The next important event was the traditional International Open of San Sebastian. But before that, we made a short stop in Ponce, where Danitza was invited by a local school, Escuela Ramos Antonini to give a conference about the benefits of chess and why everybody can start playing, regardless of age. It was followed by a 6 boards simultaneous against the school’s chess team and their teacher.
The San Sebastian tournament is organized in memorial of Narciso Rabell Mendez, the person who helped develop chess in the area and started this now traditional chess festival. This year, it brought to start 22 players who showed great fighting spirit over 7 rounds. The top seed, Danitza Vazquez, showed why she is one of the best players in Puerto Rico and came out on top with 5,5 points. Second was Miguel Boggiano of Puerto Rico with 5 points, followed by Shawn Martinez of USA with 4,5 points.
Overall, Puerto Rico has been a great experience and we can’t wait to be back to this beautiful island!