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Top 5 Latin American Chess Players in Baku World Cup

Top 5 Latin American Chess Players in Baku World Cup

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on September 17, 2015

The quality of Latin American chess has skyrocketed and we can see the results in the World Cup that is taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan, where Latin America was given 20 places out of the 128 initial participants. The main hopes of the region are focused on Cuban Grand Master Leinier Dominguez, who heads the Latin American ranking with his ELO coefficient of 2,732 units; but Peruvian Julio Granda is also fighting for the first positions in an events that grants two places for the upcoming Tournament of Candidates, which will define the challenger of the world champion, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen. 

Leinier Dominguez. Cuba. ELO 2,732 points

The great challenge for Dominguez in Baku is to match —or perhaps improve— his most outstanding performance in these events, which dates back to 2004 in Tripoli, where he finished fifth. The Cuban chess player got his ticket due to his ELO coefficient over the past year and he was ranked 18th in the World Cup. His first rival was young Argentinean Federico Perez Ponsa (2,563), another talented player of the region, who was about to defeat him; but Dominguez made his best during the second classic game and he prevailed over the South American opponent. How far will the Cuban player go? This doesn’t seem to be his best moment, but he is highly talented and experienced.

Julio E. Granda Zuñiga. Peru. ELO 2,667 points

This 48-year-old veteran Grand Master still shows that he is one of the most complete chess players in Latin America. He has been the champion of his country in five occasions (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2002). During the previous World Cup, held in Tromso, Norway, 2013, he was the most outstanding Latin American player as he stood among the 16 finalists, after having defeated such favorites as Hungarian Peter Leko and Dutch Anish Giri. Granda qualified for the Cup after the 9th Continental Championship, in 2014, where he shared the first position and subsequently finished second in the tie breaker.

In Baku he has faced two Latin American rivals and beat them. They were Brazilian Alexandr Fier and Chilean Cristobal Villagra Henriquez.

Lazaro Bruzon. Cuba. ELO 2,659 points

The Cuban Grand Master has developed a changeable career. In more than one occasion he has surpassed the 2,700-point barrier, but he is not presently living his finest chess moment. He qualified for Baku as a result of his victory in the 2.3 zonal tournament of Central America. In the Cup he had to work hard in order to knock out Indian Santosh Gujrathi Vidit, since the duel went to quick games. Afterwards, he was about to equal his results with against super elite Grand Master, Vladimir Kramnik; nonetheless, after over six hours of game, Bruzon made a mistake that brought about his elimination.

Sandro Mareco. Argentina. ELO 2,599 points

This Argentinean player won the tenth edition of the Chess Absolute Continental of the Americas, carried out in May, in Montevideo, so he guaranteed his presence in Baku. At the Azeri city, just a few people thought he had a chance against super favorite Chinese Hua Ni (2,704); nevertheless, Mareco broke the forecasts by beating the Asian player 1.5-0.5 and he passed to the second stage. He seemed to have an opportunity against Canadian Anton Kovalyov, but he lost 0.5-1.5.

Cristobal Villagra Henriquez. Chile. ELO 2,511 points

He is only 18 years old and his career is on the rise. He started playing at the age of 6, he was the national champion of his category when he was 8 and, in 2007, President Michelle Bachelet decorated him as the best -12 Chilean athlete.

Among his most recent victories, he got his first absolute title of Chile in 2015 and he qualified for the World Cup. Nobody thought he was a favorite in Baku so as to prevail against Israeli veteran Grand Master Boris Gelfand; however, the young Chilean talent drew both classic games and he was victorious in one of the quick ones, so he joined the group of the top 64. Villagra’s victory was labeled as the main surprise of the first stage in the event. Subsequently, Villagra was defeated twice by Peruvian Granda, but he anyway had a great performance in Baku. The utmost challenge in his way is to become the fifth Grand Master of Chile.

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