Cuba's top player and the best player from that country since Jose Raul Capablanca, Leinier Dominguez-Perez was born in the town of Güines in La Habana Province. He recently switched federations from Cuba to the United States and is playing in the US Championship (2019).
The son of Aurelio Dominguez and the late Aymee Perez, Dominguez learned the moves of the game from his father when he was 6 and started playing competitively when he was 9. In 1998, he gained his IM title and in 2001 he won his GM at the age of 17 before entering the world’s top 100, where he has remained. In 2002, his rating rose above 2600, and in 2008, it rose above 2700 where it has remained. For more than five years, he has topped the rankings in Latin America and has long been third in the Americas behind only Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura, although he overtook Kamsky in 2013. In 1996, aged 12, he scored 7/13 in the Capablanca Memorial in the Joint Group, including a victory against the winner, Macedonian FM Ljubisa Andonovski. Later in 1996, he played in the Cadet World Championships. In 1997 he won his first tournament in Guines, the "Andres Clemente Vazquez” and in 1998 he became the youngest IM in Cuba.
In 2000 he was runner-up in the World Under 18 Championship behind the winner, Francisco Vallejo Pons. In 2001 he came second in the Cuban Championship behind Reynaldo Vera, and then won that Championship five times, in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2016. Dominguez placed =2nd (3rd on tiebreak), a half point behind Alexey Vladislavovich Yermolinsky at the inaugural American Continental Championship held at Cali in Colombia in August 2001. In the 2003 edition of this event - Torneo Continental Americano (2003) - he finished with 7.5/11, a half point behind =2nd placed compatriot Lazaro Bruzon Batista and a point behind the outright winner, Brazilian GM Giovanni Portilho Vescovi. In the American Continental Championship (2005), he again scored 7.5/11, finishing a point behind the winner, Bruzon.
World Championship competition
Dominguez has been participating in the World Championship cycle since he qualified for the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001/02), where he beat Pavel Mikhailovich Kotsur in the first round of matches, before losing to Boris Gelfand in the second round. He was more successful in the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004), where he defeated Ernesto Inarkiev, Vladimir Malakhov, Vladislav Ivanovich Tkachiev and Alexey Dreev before bowing out to Teimour Radjabov in the Armageddon tiebreaker of their quarter final match. At the World Chess Cup (2007), he lost to Magnus Carlsen in the third round after beating Alexei Iljushin and David Baramidze in the preceding rounds. In the World Cup (2009), he beat David Smerdon in round 1, but was beaten in round 2 by Italian wunderkind Fabiano Caruana. Dominguez qualified for the World Cup (2011) via his rating, and defeated Iranian GM Elshan Moradiabadi in the first round, Moldavan GM Viktor Antonovich Bologan in the second, and Russian GM Igor Lysyj in the third, before losing to Hungarian GM Judit Polgar in the Round of Sixteen, thereby exiting the contest.
His campaign for the 2014 World Championship had a mediocre start. The FIDE Grand Prix London (2012) was the first of the six legs of the 2012-13 Grand Prix series; playing as an AGON qualifier, his score of 4.5/11 (=9 -2) earned him only 35 GP points, the amount that accrues to sharing 9th and 10th position in this contest. He also contested the 2nd Grand Prix event in the series, the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2012), scoring only 4/11 and adding only 20 GP points to bring his combined tally after two events to 55 points, all but cruelling his chances for qualification via the Grand Prix to the 2014 Candidates Tournament. His outright win in the FIDE Grand Prix Thessaloniki (2013) (with 8/11) - which was also the best tournament win of his career - added the full 170 GP points to his tally, boosted his chances until the Beijing leg of the series narrowed the field excluding him from contesting the top two positions. (1) He had a second bite of the cherry to qualify for the 2014 Candidates as he qualified by rating for the World Cup (2013), where he defeated Essam El Gindy in the first round and US GM Alexander Onischuk in the second round. However, he was defeated by eventual semi-finalist, French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the third round and thereby exited the 2014 World Championship cycle.
Qualifying by rating for the 2014-2015 Grand Prix series portion of the 2016 World Championship cycle, Dominguez suffered a major loss of form in the first leg of the series, finishing last at the FIDE Grand Prix Baku (2014), all but eliminating him from contention for one of the top two places in the Grand Prix series that will qualify for the Candidates Tournament in 2016. He recovered to some extent to finish 4th-7th at the FIDE Grand Prix Tbilisi (2015) and finished his Grand Prix participation at the FIDE Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk (2015), where he placed equal fourth with 6/11, a half point from the lead. However, this was insufficient to finish in the top 2 overall and he did not therefore qualify for the Candidates from this event.
Dominguez had another chance to qualify for the Candidates from the World Cup (2015), to which he qualified by rating. He received a fright in his first round match against young Argentinian GM Federico Perez Ponsa when he lost the first game of the match, and struggled to extract a win from a prolonged and drawish second game, before he prevailed in the rapid game tiebreaker to advance to the second round where he defeated Hrant Melkumyan. In the third round he lost a prolonged struggle to English GM Michael Adams in the third set of tiebreakers, losing both blitz games to bow out of the event.
In 2001, Dominguez came 3rd in the Capablanca Memorial tournament behind Vallejo and Hannes Hlifar Stefansson. Later that year he came =3rd, a half point behind co-leaders Petar Genkov Genov and Pavel Mikhailovich Kotsur in the Olympic Capital Masters Open held in Lausanne, and then went on to win the prestigious “Carlos Torre Reppeto” event held in Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In 2002, the 18 year old GM started with a very strong =5th at the International Chess Festival held in Saint-Vincent in Italy, a half point behind the four co-leaders Sergei Tiviakov, Vladimir Malakhov, Andrei Volokitin, and Vladimir Viktorovich Epishin. This was followed by strong results in the 9th “Anibal” International Open held in Spain (7/10), 1st in the Cuban Championship, 2nd in the Capablanca Memorial behind his long time friend and rival Bruzon, =1st with Bruzon at the Vesterhavs GM Tournament held in Esbjerg in Denmark, =4th at the Politiken Cup in Denmark, a half point behind the three co-leaders Tiviakov, Alexander Beliavsky, and Ruben Felgaer and finished the year at the Bled Olympiad (2002) on board 2 for Cuba. 2003 saw Dominguez again prevailing at the Cuban Championships ahead of Bruzon, but then finished =4th at the Capablanca Memorial a point behind 2nd placed Bruzon, who was a half point behind the winner, Julio Ernesto Granda Zuniga. He wound up 2003 by winning the Zonal 2.3 in Ecuador. In 2004 he came second – again behind Bruzon - in his inaugural outing in the Wijk aan Zee B Group (2004) in Wijk aan Zee but a few months later finished outright first with 9/11 ahead of 2nd placed Bruzon at the Capablanca Memorial Elite (2004). He finished 2004 representing Cuba at the 36th Olympiad (2004) in Calvia on board 1. 2005 saw a downturn in his fortunes due to a prolonged illness although he managed respectable 7.5/11 at the American Continental Championship (2005).
Dominguez's fortunes improved in 2006, starting with 4th at the Cuernavaca Young Masters in Mexico, hot on the heels of co-leaders Vallejo and Ruslan Ponomariov, and 3rd placed Nakamura, before winning the Cuban Championship on tiebreak ahead of Bruzon. Soon after followed his best result so far, winning the Magistral Ciutat de Barcelona - Casino (2006) with 8.0/9 (+7 =2 -0), well clear of Vassily Ivanchuk, Viktor Antonovich Bologan and Jan Timman, with a TPR of over 2900. He also regained the top spot in the Elo ranking at the top of Latin America. 2007 saw him come a distant second behind Ivanchuk at the 42nd Capablanca Memorial (2007), second behind Nakamura at Casino de Barcelona (2007) and then again win the Zonal 2.3, held this time in the Dominican Republic, to qualify for the 2007 World Cup. In 2008, he won the Capablanca Memorial for the second time, came 2nd behind Alexander Morozevich at the Bosnia Sarajevo Tournament (2008), and equal first at the 41st Biel International Chess Festival (2008) with 6.5/10 (a 2790 performance) - a half point ahead of Magnus Carlsen - but lost the second blitz game tie-breaker to concede first prize to Evgeny Alekseev.
2009 saw Dominguez invited to participate in Corus Group A (2009) where he placed sixth after losing the last game to Sergey Karjakin, who won the tournament a point ahead of Dominguez. He also took part in Linares (2009), coming last in a closely fought tournament where his 6/14 (=12 -2) was only 2 point behind the winner, and in the M-Tel Masters (2009) where he scored 4/10. 2009 also saw his 3rd victory at the 44th Capablanca Memorial (2009), but it ended with a round 2 loss in the World Cup. In 2010, he finished in the middle of the field at Corus Group A (2010) with 6.5/13 and 3rd at the Capablanca Memorial (2010). He saw out 2010 in the Chess Olympiad (2010) in Khanty-Mansiysk.
In 2011, he again won the Zonal 2.3, this time with a score of 11/12 (qualifying for the World Cup 2011), but failed at the 46th Capablanca Memorial (2011), coming second last, but finishing ahead of Bruzon. His mediocre form continued with 5.5/9 at the Baku Open (2011), but then perked up when came second with 6/10 in the 5th SPICE Cup (2011) behind Le Quang Liem. 2012 saw him playing board 3 for Sankt Petersburgh, which took out 2nd place in the Russian Team Championship (2012) and in May 2012, he placed =2nd in the Capablanca Memorial (2012) behind 6-time winner of the event, Vassily Ivanchuk. In 2013, he placed =2nd behind Zoltan Almasi at the Capablanca Memorial.
Dominguez started 2014 with a solid 6/11 result at the category 20 Tata Steel Masters (2014), placing =4th behind Levon Aronian, Anish Giri and Sergey Karjakin respectively, and 5th on tiebreak behind Fabiano Caruana. In May 2014, he came 3rd in the 49th Capablanca Memorial (2014) with 5/10, behind Wesley So and Bruzon.
In 2008, he won the World Blitz Championship (2008) by scoring 11.5/15 (+8 =7 -0) against a world-class field including Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Morozevich and Alexander Grischuk. He came 4th in the SportAccord Mind Games (Rapid) (2011). He was equal second at the World Rapid Championship (2015) alongside Ian Nepomniachtchi and Teimour Radjabov, scoring 10.5/15, a point behind the winner Magnus Carlsen.
He holds the national record for most boards in a simultaneously when in 2004 he played against 150 contestants winning 139, drawing 10 and losing one. He also helped organise the massive simultaneous exhibitions held in 2001 in the Plaza of the Revolution and in 2004 in the Plaza Ernesto Che Guevara in Santa Clara.
<National Team Events> Dominguez played for Cuba in the World Team Championships of 2001 and 2005 on boards 1 and 2 respectively. He has represented Cuba at the Olympiads of 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 with an overall score of +33 =45 -9 (63.8%). In the 2014 Olympiad, he helped Cuba finish 7th. He also represented Cuba at the Panamerican Championships of 2000, 2003 and 2009 where he won two team golds, a team silver, an individual gold and two individual bronze medals. In January 2013, he played top board for Cuba in the 9th Panamerican Team Chess Championship held in Brazil, the winner of which would qualify for the World Team Championship of 2013. Unfortunately for Dominguez and Cuba, the team placed second behind the USA, with Dominguez scoring a rating-neutral 4/6. Playing board 1 for Cuba at the FIDE World Team Championship (2015), he won individual bronze.
<European Club Cup (ECC)> Dominguez has played board 2 for Sankt Petersburg in the ECC from 2012-2014. At the European Club Cup (2012), he was fourth for his board, and helped his team to win silver. At the European Club Cup (2013), he again placed fourth on his board, with his team 5th on this occasion. At the European Club Cup (2014), he was 7th for his board, his team placing 9th.
<National Leagues> In 2012, he played board 3 for the silver medal winning Sankt Petersburg in the Russian Team Championship (2012), scoring 4/7 (+2 =4 -1). In April 2013, playing board 3, Dominguez helped his team Saint Petersburg to win the gold medal at the Russian Team Championship (2013). In September 2013, he helped his team Sestao Naturgas Energia win the Spanish League (the CECLUB Honor). In 2014, he helped his team St Petersburg to 3rd place in the Russian Premier League, scoring 5/6 on board 3 with a 2921 performance rating and moved into the world's top 10 in the May rating list. He was almost as successful in 2015 in the Russian Team Championship (2015), again helping St Petersburg to a bronze medal and winning an individual silver medal for board 3
He is a fan of the Spanish football club Real Madrid and Argentina's national football team. He loves music, especially English ballads, and black beans. His idol is former world champion Robert James Fischer but considers Garry Kasparov the better player of the two. (2) In 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, he was selected among the top 10 athletes of Cuba. In 2008, he was also among the top 10 athletes in Latin America. His partner is Yanelis Espasandín.
Ratings and Rankings
Dominguez reached his best rating and ranking to date in May 2014 when he was rated 2768, and ranked #10 in the world.
Sources and References
(1) Wikipedia article: FIDE Grand Prix 2012-13; (2) Interview: http://www.bohemia.cu/2013/06/14/de... (Spanish) and http://translate.google.com.au/tran... (English Google translation)
Live rating list: http://www.2700chess.com/; http://www.capablanca.co.cu/index.p...; http://ratings.fide.com/hist.phtml?...; http://translate.googleusercontent....; Wikipedia article: Leinier Domínguez