13 Greatest Chess Players in Cuba of All Time

Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez

Cuba is a small island nation located in the Caribbean Sea, but it has produced some of the best chess players in the world. The Cuban Chess Federation was founded in 1952 and since then, the country has been the home of some of the most talented grandmasters in the chess world.

From world champions to Olympic medallists, Cuban chess players have consistently achieved remarkable successes over the years. In this article, we will look at some of the best chess players Cuba has ever produced.

1. José Raúl Capablanca


José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera was an incredibly talented chess player from Cuba. He was born in 1888 in the Castillo del Príncipe, Havana, and even at a young age was recognized for his chess prowess.

He eventually became the world chess champion from 1921 to 1927. Capablanca was known for his remarkable endgame skills and lightning-fast speed of play.

This combination of talent allowed him to easily outwit and outplay his opponents, often winning games with a minimal amount of effort.

His brilliance earned him the respect of many, and he was considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. Capablanca’s success in the game of chess was due to his keen intellect and natural skill, but also to his dedication and hard work.

He studied chess relentlessly, constantly honing his skills and developing new strategies. His work ethic and determination to become the best helped him to become a world champion at a young age. Capablanca’s legacy in the chess world is indisputable.

He was the first Cuban world chess champion, and his impressive skills and achievements continue to be celebrated by aspiring chess players and fans of the game. He is remembered as a chess prodigy and an inspirational figure in the chess world.

2. Leinier Domínguez


Leinier Domínguez Pérez is a prominent figure in the world of chess. He is a Cuban-American chess grandmaster who has achieved remarkable success in the sport. Domínguez has won the Cuban Chess Championship five times and was crowned the world champion in blitz chess in 2008.

He has also competed in several world-level chess tournaments, such as the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2002 and 2004, and the FIDE World Cup in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2019, 2021, and 2023.

Domínguez has shown great resilience and dedication to the sport, and his career is a testament to his skill and hard work. He has achieved success on the world stage, and his career will continue to inspire aspiring chess players for years to come.

3. Juan Corzo

Juan Corzo y Príncipe was a renowned Spanish-Cuban chess master. He was born in Madrid, Spain, and emigrated to Cuba in 1887. After his relocation, Corzo quickly established himself as an exemplary chess master in his new home, becoming a five-time Cuban chess champion.

His first championship title was earned in 1898 when he became the Champion of the Havana Chess Club. His outstanding skill and dedication to the game earned him much respect and admiration from the Cuban chess community.

Corzo’s success in Cuban chess was remarkable, as he was able to achieve five championship titles over the course of his career. He is remembered today as an influential figure in Cuban chess, and his legacy continues to inspire chess players of all ages.

4. Lázaro Bruzón


Lázaro Bruzón Batista is a renowned chess grandmaster whose roots lie in Cuba.

He has achieved remarkable success in his chess career, such as winning the World Junior Championship, the two-times American Continental championship, the two-time Iberoamerican Championship, and the five-time Cuban championship.

His impressive achievements have earned him a place in the Cuban national chess team, which he represented at the Chess Olympiads from 2000 to 2014.

Bruzón is a highly talented chess player and his commitment to the game has seen him rise through the ranks to become one of the most accomplished grandmasters in the world.

His accomplishments in chess have earned him recognition all over the world, including from his home country of Cuba. He is an inspiration to many aspiring chess players, demonstrating that hard work and dedication can pay off.

5. Yuniesky Quesada


Yuniesky Quesada Pérez is an exceptionally talented chess player who has made a name for himself in the world of competitive chess. He is a Cuban-American and was awarded the Grandmaster title by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in 2005.

His impressive achievements earned him the title of the fourth Cuban to surpass the 2600 Elo rating mark, which he did on the FIDE list of July 2010. Quesada’s success in the world of chess is demonstrated by his winning of the Cuban Chess Championship in 2008 and 2011.

He has achieved a great feat in the chess world, and his name is recognized among the top players. His success is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the game.

6. Jesús Nogueiras


Jesús Nogueiras Santiago is a Cuban chess grandmaster, who is highly accomplished in the game. In 1985, he was a World Championship Candidate, which is one of the highest honors a chess player can receive.

He achieved this honor by placing 2nd in the Taxco 1985 Interzonal, an important tournament which is the precursor to the World Championship. Unfortunately, his success was not replicated in the 1985 Candidates Tournament, where he placed 15th out of 16.

Despite this, his success in the Taxco event is still an impressive accomplishment.

7. Eleazar Jiménez

Eleazar Jiménez Zerquera was an accomplished Cuban chess master. He is best known for his success in the Cuban Championship and the Pan American Chess Championship. Jiménez won the Cuban Championship a total of five times, in 1957, 1960, 1963, 1965, and 1967.

His dominance in the championship was further highlighted by his three wins in the Pan American Chess Championship, which he won in 1963, 1966, and 1970. In 1962, Jiménez tied for 15-16th in the Havana tournament, with his performance in that tournament setting the stage for his most successful year in 1963.

That year, Jiménez tied for 2nd-3rd in the Havana tournament, cementing his place as one of the most accomplished Cuban chess masters.

8. Francisco José Pérez

Francisco José Pérez Pérez was a highly accomplished chess player with dual Spanish and Cuban nationalities. He was born in Vigo, Spain, and went on to become a renowned chess master. Pérez won the Spanish Chess Championship three times, in 1948, 1954, and 1960.

Additionally, he represented Spain in two Chess Olympiads, in 1958 and 1960, and then in the 1961 European Team Chess Championship. Pérez was a formidable opponent to his peers, having earned the respect of the chess community.

His ability to remain competitive over a long period of time is a testament to his skill and dedication to the game. His accomplishments have made him a celebrated figure in the history of Spanish and Cuban chess.

9. Julio Becerra Rivero

Julio Becerra Rivero is an accomplished chess player who has earned the title of Grandmaster. He was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, and was exposed to the game of chess at the tender age of thirteen.

While growing up, he became a regular visitor to the chess academy in Havana, where he could challenge himself against other players and hone his skills. At the age of eighteen, Julio Becerra moved to the United States, settling in South Miami, Florida.

Despite the adjustment to a new country and culture, he continued to play chess and achieved the prestigious Grandmaster title in both the United States and Cuba.

Julio Becerra has won several national and international tournaments throughout his career, including the Cuban Chess Championship in 2007.

His passion and dedication for the game have seen him travel the world to compete at the highest level and has inspired many aspiring players to pursue their dreams.

10. Walter Arencibia


Walter Arencibia Rodríguez is an accomplished chess grandmaster from Cuba. He started playing the game when he was only eight years old, and in the years since then, he has experienced a great deal of success.

In 1986, Rodríguez achieved two major milestones: he won the World Junior Chess Championship, for which he earned the International Master title, and he also won the Pan American Junior Chess Championship.

This demonstrated not only Rodríguez’s immense talent but also his dedication to the game, as he was able to excel in two prestigious tournaments in the same year.

His accomplishments in 1986 were a sign of things to come, as he has gone on to achieve great success in the chess world.

11. Celso Golmayo Zúpide

Celso Golmayo y Zúpide was a renowned Spanish–Canuban chess master who achieved a great deal of success in the chess world.

He was the first Cuban player to take part in European tournaments and was widely accepted as the Cuban champion after his 1862 match victory over Félix Sicre.

Golmayo y Zúpide had a strong presence in the chess world, and his most notable achievement was his participation in the famous Paris 1867 tournament, where he placed 7th or 8th overall. He was praised for his skill and was a well-respected figure in the chess world.

His legacy lives on in the chess world today, and he is still remembered as one of the greatest Cuban chess players of all time.

12. Rolando Illa

Rolando Illa was a renowned chess master from both Cuba and Argentina. He was born in New York to a Cuban family and moved to Argentina in 1904, becoming a naturalized citizen. While in Argentina, Illa was a co-founder of the Club Argentino de Ajedrez in Buenos Aires.

His accomplishments in the world of chess were quite impressive. In 1910, he won the Club Argentino Championship, and again sometime between 1912 and 1919, or 1913 and 1921. Illa’s success in the world of chess is a testament to his skills and dedication.

13. Juan Carlos González Zamora


Juan Carlos González Zamora is an accomplished chess grandmaster hailing from Cuba but currently residing in Mexico. He received his prestigious Grandmaster title from the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in 2004, becoming the fourth Mexican to receive such an accolade.

Since then, he has gone on to dominate the chess scene in Mexico, becoming the Mexican chess champion a remarkable eight times. Additionally, he has won many tournaments in Mexico and also participated in numerous international tournaments.

His impressive accomplishments in the world of chess have earned him the respect of fellow players and fans alike. As a highly successful chess player, Zamora’s expertise extends far beyond Mexico.

He has competed in a variety of international tournaments, including the World Chess Championship, the Chess Olympiad, and the World Rapid Championship. His impressive record in these events speaks to his skill as a grandmaster and his dedication to the game of chess.

Overall, Juan Carlos González Zamora is an outstanding chess grandmaster who has achieved much success in his career. His Grandmaster title and multiple Mexican chess championships are a testament to his immense talent and skill.

He is a great example of what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication to the game of chess.


Cuba has fostered and produced some of the world’s best chess players. From Leinier Domínguez to Yusnel Bacallao, the Cuban chess scene has made a significant contribution to the international chess landscape.

With a strong chess culture and an impressive track record of achievements, Cuba continues to be a major force in the world of chess.

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Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez

I am a professional chess player for over 10 years, one of the youngest Grandmasters in the world and amongst the top ranked in the western hemisphere. I have been playing chess since I was a child, and it is something that I have always been passionate about. My passion has taken me to numerous tournaments around the world where I have competed against some of the best players in the world. Through hard work and dedication, I have achieved great success at these tournaments and have become one of the youngest Grandmasters in history. My goal is to continue to improve my game and reach new heights within this sport. LinkedIn