Cuban Grandmaster Leinier Dominguez now plays for the US

12/20/2018 – With top players such as Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura or Wesley So the national of the USA is one of the strongest in the world. But now it gets even stronger. In a press release the US Chess Federation announced that Cuban Grandmaster Leinier Dominguez will from now on play for the US. | Photo: Leinier Dominguez | Photo Lennart Ootes

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GM Leinier Domínguez Joins US Chess Federation

Top Cuban grandmaster will now play under the U.S. flag

CROSSVILLE, TENNESSEE: The 501(c)3 US Chess Federation is pleased to announce that Grandmaster (GM) Leinier Domínguez, originally from Cuba and currently living in Miami, Florida, has successfully switched federations from the Cuban Chess Federation and will now play under the United States flag.  Domínguez says, “I am very excited about this new stage in my career and I am really looking forward to joining US Chess. It is great to see the tremendous level that the game has acquired in the U.S. and I definitely want to be a part of it.”

The 35-year-old was born in Havana, Cuba and became a grandmaster in 2001, going on to win the Cuban national championship five times between 2002 and 2016. He currently carries a rating of 2739, ranking him 20th in a world that includes well over 1,000 grandmasters. He instantly becomes one of the top players for the United States, joining recent world-championship competitor GM Fabiano Caruana (2832) and the rest of the “super” grandmasters from the U.S.: Wesley So (2765), Hikaru Nakamura (2746), and Sam Shankland (2724).

Grant Oen,  the FIDE Events Manager at US Chess (the Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation is the official governing body of which the US Chess Federation is a member) boils the complicated process involved in a transfer of federations down to, “It requires a player and the new federation to file an application, submit documentation demonstrating residency, notify the former federation, and pay transfer fees.”

US Chess Executive Board Vice President Randy Bauer enthuses, “Grandmaster Domínguez is a strong addition to the US Chess roster of world-class players. Leinier has achieved notable successes as a chess player, trainer, and author.  But perhaps most importantly for our organization’s goals, he is an outstanding ambassador for chess worldwide, and we look forward to his adding to the already rich and diverse US chess culture.”

For more information, please contact:

Dan Lucas
US Chess

For more information about US Chess, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, please visit

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peterfrost peterfrost 12/23/2018 08:15
I hate this. First So and now Dominguez. No problem with Caruana, he is a product of US Chess from an early age. But the other two are not US chess products. Let's assume the US now win the next three Olympiads straight. The achievement is devalued. They will have just bought it with cash. They might well have soon won an Olympiad with Caruana, Nakamura, Shankland, supported by Xiong and Sevian. That would have been achievement of which to be proud. Now, they could win several in a row...but no-one will respect it.
turok turok 12/23/2018 03:43
@Aighearach nobody is saying this but let me tell you that when as a master player I thought hey why not join and play for another country in the Olympics it just doesnt work-they have the laws in place for playing for your country-that was why I asked if he was a US citizen or not-and sorry but citizenship is important and that is why people want to become US citizens-ownership has zero to do with it-
Aighearach Aighearach 12/22/2018 10:32
It is amazing how many otherwise-intelligent chess players presume that the nation of one's birth holds some sort of ownership over that person, as if they were a slave, and think it is some sort of moral failing to choose what nation you live in and what flag you compete under.

Luckily, people who disagree can find allies here in America; allies ready to fight for their rights as an individual, if needed.

Don't be whatever groups of people tell you to be, be what you choose to be. This is the American way.
turok turok 12/22/2018 09:59
@melante thank u very much-I never knew this-I always thought it was otherwise-
melante melante 12/22/2018 01:21
@turok: no, you don't need to be a citizen to represent a specific country in FIDE tournaments. Being a permanent resident is good enough. I believe Wesley So is not a US citizen either (he only has his original Philippines passport, AFAIK).
Hammerchewer Hammerchewer 12/22/2018 12:44
The website I cited earlier shows that FIDE was paid 3,500 Euro for the Dominguez transfer. We don't know how much if anything Dominguez may have been paid or by whom. He can play FIDE events under the USA flag and presumably the 2019 USA Championship, but not team events for another two years unless a further fee (unspecified) is paid.

I can imagine a couple of players on the fringe of the US olympiad team, such as Robson, might not be so pleased by this development.

Also I can appreciate that Cuban players may feel betrayed, but if Dominguez has been a resident of the US for some time it is a more acceptable decision than the purely mercenary hiring of Wesley So a few years ago.

A lot of people in chess play for the countries of their residence even if they are not citizens; FIDE regulations permit this but some countries have stricter rules than others.
NMcrazyim5 NMcrazyim5 12/22/2018 07:20
Well America has and will always be a nation of immigrants! Welcome to the US Mr.Dominguez!
Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman 12/22/2018 05:20
They badmouth the U.S but can't wait to get their hands on the green card.
Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman 12/22/2018 05:19
Wasn't this bad mouthing the U.S, being all pride of the Cuban state, etc... How times change...
turok turok 12/22/2018 01:18
I always thot to be a member of the Olympics representing our USA country was to be a citizen? So is he a USA citizen-if not does this mean the USCF is even above our GOVT to allow a non-citizen to be part of the USA team?
IntensityInsanity IntensityInsanity 12/21/2018 05:34
Ha!! Another mercenary hired with a suitcase full if Rex Dollars. It is amazing what people will do for 30 pieces of silver.

Question: 1) you mention Rex dollars. Is that bad? Are dollars from other people better? Is Rex an evil terrible person from whom you yourself would never any money?

2) what people will do for 30 pieces of silver. How do you know how much was paid? What if it was $100,000, is it ok then? Just curious, since you mentioned amounts: what is the amount for which it is OK with you?

3) what was the crime? After all, what did Domínguez do to justify his action with a Judas who betrayed his friend for 30 pieces of silver, as you say...
Let’s see: Domínguez moved from Cuba to USA. Wow, that’s a Judas? I guess I must be a real idiot. I moved to the US and no one paid me. At least Domínguez made some money from this. Please explain why that’s bad. For example, since you are just a saint, explain why if you lived in a communist country like Cuba and a chess sponsor offered you money to come live in the USA, why you would deny such an opportunity. After all, you are the moral God among us, and we want to learn right and wrong from you.
Keshava Keshava 12/21/2018 12:31
@ARIROSEZEISA1973, no one can ever "follow Capablanca steps" because Capablanca became world champion without working at chess. He only read one book (on the endgame that someone gave him as a gift) and his wife said that he never kept a chess set at home.
gainsbourg gainsbourg 12/20/2018 09:43
this is not a surprise . Domínguez was not for a long time except San Louis rapid and blitz. I epected this earlier
mis3u mis3u 12/20/2018 07:43
He does what is good for himself. Haters gonna hate.
Abraxas79 Abraxas79 12/20/2018 07:14
Ha!! Another mercenary hired with a suitcase full if Rex Dollars. It is amazing what people will do for 30 pieces of silver.
ARIROSEZEISA1973 ARIROSEZEISA1973 12/20/2018 06:17
I dont understand well: If he wants to be part of the level that US has reached in chess, why he didnt play in any of the tournments organized there and just only in a rapid one? He can live wherever he wants to live but he¨d never be like Capablanca. I know that he cant follow Capablanca steps and never wanted to be like him. Or... it was his dream...? Yes, just a dream.
Hammerchewer Hammerchewer 12/20/2018 05:03
The page details transfers. It says of Dominguez "Date starting from which a player can represent the new federation fee free 2020-12-19."
That seems to mean USCF would have to pay FIDE (or the Cuban federation?) a fee to include him in the 2019 World Teams or 2020 Olympiad squads.
How big is the fee? Perhaps a sponsor (Sinquefield?) would pay it?
IAFLG IAFLG 12/20/2018 03:31
No, he does not "replace" the U.S. Champion on the Olympiad Team. IAW Section 2.c of the US Chess Invitational Requirements, the U.S. Champion and U.S. Women's Champion qualify automatically for the respective team at the World Olympiad and the World Team Championship. The Olympiad is held every two years, in even-numbered years, so the next one is on 2020. The World Team Championship is held in odd-numbered years, so we have one in 2019.
Keshava Keshava 12/20/2018 12:59
Does this mean that he will replace the lower rated U.S. Champion on it's Olympiad team?