Posted on Thu, Oct. 04, 2007
Miami Herald

Local chess whiz gets recognition

Sporting a stoic demeanor, Miami Dade College chess team captain Renier Gonzalez has made a reputation surprising the opposition.

But now the Cuban-born chess whiz, known for his shortly cropped hair and burly physique, is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Gonzalez, 34, achieved grandmaster status — the highest title a chess player can attain world-wide — during a tournament in Spain in August. He is one of only two grandmasters living in Florida and 35 in the country.

”We are very proud of [Renier],” said MDC chess team advisor Rene Garcia. “He’s the first MDC student to achieve GM status. He’s earned it, because no one has worked harder.”

The requirements for becoming a grandmaster are stringent and complicated. They include requiring a player to achieve three ”norms” — a process that requires the player to have a performance rating of at least 2,600 in three tournaments, with at least three of the matches in each tournament being against other grandmasters.

”It’s a great experience,” Gonzalez said. “It’s like getting a doctorate degree in your field. It’s something I’m really proud of.”

Gonzalez started playing chess when he was 10 and he has traveled extensively to find top-notch competition in countries such as Colombia, Cuba, Spain and Venezuela and in several U.S. cities.

Chess has always been a key component of his life. He was a member of Cuba’s national team and, in 1996, he was the highest-rated chess player on the island. In December 1999, he defected during a tournament in Colombia and came to the United States in 2001.

Gonzalez was the Florida state chess champion in 2002-04 and helped catapult the MDC chess team into one of the most elite programs in the country.

Gonzalez is co-owner of Professional Chess Services, a company that organizes chess tournaments and teaches the game to people of all ages, with an emphasis on grade-school children. He is slated to receive an Associate of Arts in Computer Science after the 2008 spring term and he hopes to stay at the college as chess coach.

Source: Miami Herald

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