Chess life in Puerto Rico

                                                                                                  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.


The start of the games


Boosting of self-confidence


Some players got a little help…


The fight is getting more intense as the games advance

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.

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Chess conference in Le Petit Bistro

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Everybody’s paying attention

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The games started as soon as the conference was over

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Happy with Renier’s 15/15 points

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Guillermo Davila, the man who made everything possible

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.

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Telling kids about the benefits of chess

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Everybody’s following the games with great interest

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.

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Top seed WIM Danitza Vazquez

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Fourth seed Miguel Boggiano

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Third seed Juan Jose Davila

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Shawn Martinez

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More than a game


Proud winner of the open and best Puerto Rican performance

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The streets of San Sebastian

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Monument in memorial of Narciso Rabell Mendez

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In the central square of San Sebastian

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The square at night

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Only half an hour away you can find this spectacular beach called Crash Boat

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Now you see me…

Overall, Puerto Rico has been a great experience and we can’t wait to be back to this beautiful island!


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2 Responses to Chess life in Puerto Rico

  1. Jorge Diaz says:

    Extraordinario Reportaje. La comunidad ajedrecista de Puerto Rico Abre sus puertas a personas Como ustedes que con su talento, capacidad,y humildad ponen alto Esta pequena Isla.Gracias aDanitza y a miguel por tener tan extraordinario ojo visor de encontrar tan maravillosas personas.

  2. John W. Jomp says:

    I grew up n Puerto Rico in the Julio Kaplan and Narciso era. Narciso was a friend and lived less than a block away in the same condo complex. I remember playing basketball with his son.

    My first tournament was played at the Caribe Hilton hotel, We had chess tables under a roof with a beautiful view including the peacocks.
    Anyway, congratulations to Master Dantza. We are very proud of her. And saludos to all my old chess friends.

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