Visually impaired player Daniel Pulvett achieves GM title

by Uvencio Blanco
8/12/2022 – Daniel Eduardo Pulvett, born in Venezuela and now representing Spain, finished second at the Valencia International Open last month to grab his third GM norm. With a rating already above 2500, he is set to receive the grandmaster title. Pulvett, aged 31, has a ninety-percent visual impairment. He had grabbed his second GM norm only four months ago, at a closed tournament in Breña Baja, in the Canary Islands. | Photo: David Llada

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Daniel Eduardo Pulvett Marín, a visually impaired Venezuelan chess player, has overcome all kinds of limitations to reach the prized grandmaster title.

In his career, he has won the Junior World Championship for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Sweden, 2009) and the IBSA World Championship (Turkey, 2011); and he was a gold medallist on the first board both at the IBCA Paralympics (Chennai, 2012) and at the World Team Championship (Zaragoza 2013). He was a member of the Venezuelan team at the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku.

A few hours after finishing in second place, behind Norwegian grandmaster Johan-Sebastian Christiansen, at the third edition of the International Open “Valencia, Cradle of Chess”, the Venezuelan currently residing in Madrid travelled by train from Valencia to Madrid, eagerly waiting to get home and celebrate with Deyanira — his mother — one of the most important sporting achievements of his fruitful chess career.

Daniel Pulvett, Johan-Sebastian Christiansen, Vitaly Sivuk

Daniel Pulvett (2nd), Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (1st) and Vitaly Sivuk (3rd) receiving their trophies in Valencia

The final GM norm

The International Open "Valencia, Cradle of Chess" was organized by the Chess Federation of the Valencian Community. The tournament brought together, in the Antic Mercat de Torrente, 130 chess players from 14 nations: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Estonia, France, Honduras, Norway, Peru, Poland, Ukraine and Venezuela.

In this emblematic venue, they played a 9-round Swiss tournament with a classical time control and a prize purse of €10,000.

The tournament was won by grandmaster Johan-Sebastian Christiansen (NOR, 2593), who was the only player to collect 7½ points. He was followed by five players who obtained 7 points: IM Daniel Pulvett (SPA, 2523), GM Vitaly Sivuk (UKR, 2563), GM Yuri Solodovnichenko (UKR, 2497) and GM Azer Mirzoev (AZE, 2424).

Thomas Carlyle famously stated, “Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: it is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak”. This phrase is an accurate description of chess players of the stature of Daniel Pulvett. The visually impaired player has overcome all kinds of limitations to reach the prized title of grandmaster.

Pulvett entered the Valencia Open as the fourth seed with a FIDE rating of 2523 points. He was runner-up in the event, and gained 11.10 rating points thanks to his 2572 peformance.

Pulvett won 6 games: against Mateo Sena Casas (SPA), FM Vladimir Chernikov (UKR), FM Diego Macias Pino (SPA), Azer Mirzoev (AZE), IM Jose V. Pallardo Lozoya (SPA) and IM Radoslaw Barski (POL); and drew with two grandmasters: Jose Rafael Gascon (SPA) and Vitaly Sivuk (UKR). The Venezuelan-born player lost his only match in the penultimate round to eventual champion Johan-Sebastian Christiansen.

All available games by Christiansen and Pulvett


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

The early days

Born in the city of Puerto Ordaz, Pulvett started relatively late in the world of chess, as he learned to move the pieces between the ages of 11 and 12 with the help of his father. However, his passionate dedication to the game allowed him to compete in his first major event in the city of San Felipe rather quickly.

Daniel PulvettLater on, at the Central American and Caribbean Championship organized in the city of Maturín, he obtained the title of International Master. From that tournament onwards, Pulvett — a 16-year-old at the time — began to train to achieve one of his most cherished goals: the International Grandmaster title.

He went on to win several national junior events, and two years later he again won the Central American and Caribbean tournament held in the city of Mérida.

However, his visual impairment became more pronounced over time, so he was incorporated into the National Team of Chess Players with Visual Impairment. He began to receive technical support from IMs José Rafael Sequera, Johann Álvarez Márquez, Luis Terry and José Medina.

With the help of experienced trainer and International Arbiter José Luis Guilarte, he managed to win the World Junior Chess Championship for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Täby (Stockholm, Sweden) in 2009.

Subsequently, he won gold on the first board at the IBCA Paralympics in Chennai 2012; and also won gold on the first board at the World Team Championship in Zaragoza 2013. In 2016, he was a member of the Venezuelan Olympic Team in Baku, Azerbaijan.

[Pictured: Newspaper article about Pulvett on Venezuela’s ‘Ciudad Guayana’]

Moving to Spain

Daniel PulvettRestricted by new limitations, he arrived in Spain on 8 November 2017. In Madrid, he enrolled and became an active member of the ‘Collado Villalba’ Club. He began to give lessons, earning little money, going to the extreme of working for more than 10 hours a day from Monday to Sunday, putting his chess career at risk. Despite this burden, he tried to play as many Saturdays as he could at the tournaments organized by the ‘La Didáctica’ Club. With his work, he helped his mother Deyanira, his biggest supporter.

In order to improve his technical skills, he began to work with Renier Vasquez, his coach and teammate. He also had the support of GM José Gascón and his brother Carlos, as well as Pedro Martínez and Ángel Perdomo.

He later entered a very interesting period of preparation with GM Vladimir Dubrov, with whom he worked for three intensive months with sessions of 8-9 hours a day, from Monday to Saturday, for 3 months.

More recently, Pulvett trained with grandmasters Alexander Delchev and Ivan Cheparinov, with whom he has worked deeply on opening theory, an effort that would quickly pay off.

[Pictured: Daniel Pulvett in 2013]

Making it happen

We have already said that Pulvett obtained the title of International Master in 2008 in Venezuela. Five years later, at the Villa de Sitges Open in July 2013, he achieved his first Grandmaster norm.

Due to further financial and health complications, Pulvett had to wait nine long years to get his second GM norm. In April 2022 he managed to triumph, with 7 out of 9 points, at a closed tournament in Breña Baja, the Canary Islands.

It is worth noting that in that period of almost ten years he failed to achieve the next norm no fewer than ten times, a situation that, far from discouraging him, led him to consider that he did have the conditions to achieve his goals, but only by beginning a training programme that would allow him to overcome his weaknesses. And, as we have seen, he ended up completing the requirements to make his dream come true.

In conclusion, on 17 July, Daniel Pulvett managed to overcome his physical limitations and achieved the third and final GM norm in Valencia. With these three norms and a FIDE rating of over 2520 points, Pulvett is now a grandmaster.

A humble and very grateful young man, he recognizes that ONCE (the Spanish Foundation for Cooperation and the Social Inclusion of the Disabled) and his teammates Pablo Martínez and Jesús García Callejo have generously helped him to further develop his chess career.

Our congratulations, Master Pulvett, for your achievements and for being a magnificent example of perseverance and fighting spirit.

Translation from Spanish: Carlos Colodro

Master Class Vol.4: José Raúl Capablanca

He was a child prodigy and he is surrounded by legends. In his best times he was considered to be unbeatable and by many he was reckoned to be the greatest chess talent of all time: Jose Raul Capablanca, born 1888 in Havana.


Born in Venezuela, Uvencio Blanco Hernández is a FIDE International Arbiter and Organizer. He is part of the Chess in Education Commission of the International Chess Federation.