14ymedio, Havana, 13 September 2018 — Grand Master Lázaro Bruzón has been officially expelled from the national chess team for refusing to return to the country, according to a statement issued by the National Chess Commission and published in the official press.
Bruzón, who has been living in the United States for some months, did not want to process a travel permit through the Cuban authorities and rejected the demand of the official sports institutions to return to the island to address his health problems.
As explained by the authorities, the chess player has also been excluded from the Giraldo Córdova Cardín Higher Training School for High Performance Athletes (ESFAAR), an institution with which Bruzón “had signed a contract.”
Bruzón traveled with an ordinary passport to the United States on 31 July, “to attend to personal matters and participate in a tournament” refusing to process the trip through ESFAAR. In August, the Grand Master confirmed to the Cuban authorities that he could not participate in the World Olympiad due to health problems. Cuba asked him to return to the island “to arrange appropriate treatment through the Institute of Sports Medicine,” but the chess player refused.
The coup de grâce came when it was known that Bruzón and Grandmaster Yunieski Quesada were on the payroll of the chess team at Webster University, presented to play in the 2018-2019 season.
“Given these circumstances, Bruzón’s membership in the Cardín ESFAAR and the Cuban national team has ceased,” said the senior leadership for the game of chess on the island.
After announcing his contract with Webster University, Bruzón launched harsh criticism of the Cuban authorities. “Cuban chess has serious problems at the elite level,” said the player, who criticized the fact that Cuban chess players do not have internet service. “It’s like a baseball player who goes after a ground ball without a glove,” he added. Cuba has already lost Leinier Domínguez and Yuniesky Quesada.
Bruzón said at that time that he was willing to continue representing Cuba, but the authorities have made it clear that he will not be able to do so, at least on an official team. Bruzón, a native of eastern Cuba, was a youth national champion in 1998 and 1999. He has 2,717 ELO coefficients and is 31st in the world ranking.
Yusnel Bacallao, Yuri Gonzalez, Isán Ortiz, Omar Almeida and Yasser Quesada, which is the list presented by the Cuban Chess Commission, will have very few opportunities at the World Olympiad to be held in Georgia.
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