FM Ignacio Pérez (1967-2022) passes away

FM Ignacio Perez (1967-2022)
Photo by Washington State Chess Federation

The Seattle chess community is in mourning after the passing of Ignacio Pérez on January 11th, 2022. The long-time Seattle resident succumbed after a lengthy battle with throat cancer but remained active in the chess community despite his illness. He was a few weeks shy of his 55th birthday.

In May 2019, he reached a throat cancer diagnosis and had surgery that December to remove it. They had to remove his voice box before starting chemotherapy treatments in February 2020, but unfortunately, the cancer was too advanced.

According to Josh Sinanan, Ignacio came to the U.S. “aboard a raft from Cuba in the early ’90s, eventually settling in Seattle, Washington. Born February 2nd, 1967, Ignacio was a regular at the famed Havana Chess Club and was training partners with many strong players including GM Julio Becerra and IM Blas Lugo. It is known that there is a very strong Cuban contingent in Miami, but you will find many scattered throughout the country in various cities around the world.

Ignacio Pérez at 2008 Washington State Championship.
Ignacio Pérez at 2008 Washington State Championship
Photo by Hanniegn Pitre

Many of the Cubans are known as fierce competitors and Ignacio was no exception. His resume of accomplishments was long, but his claim to fame was being a two-time state champion (2007, 2013) over luminaries such as Viktors Pupols. He was also the reigning Washington Senior Champion and represented the state in two Senior Tournament of Champions.

Those who met him talk about his great personality and humor even when he lost his ability to speak. He was referred to by some as “Nacho.” The passing of Ignacio Pérez brings a sad time for the city of Seattle, the state of Washington, the nation of Cuba, and the entire African Diaspora. He will be missed. Nosotros te saludamos Nacho! We salute you!

Funeral arrangements and chess memorials are pending.

Bird flying at Varadero Beach, Cuba

Varadero Beach, Cuba

Photo by Daaim Shabazz


  1. Met Nacho once in Seattle during the 2003 U.S. Championship in Seattle. I was out there covering Maurice Ashley and Stephen Muhammad who were competing.

    I saw Nacho analyze and play blitz. He was definitely in his element at the chess board.

  2. Excellent chess player and great human being. Very passionate about chess and humble enough to take time with class players like myself and analyze or talk about chess. He was a real competitor and a very good blitz player who enjoyed attacking and played very rapidly. He was friendly and full of energy. He will definitely be missed. RIP amigo.

  3. Ignacio was a great person of the chess board also.
    For example, last summer of 2021, Ignacio was playing chess at a park in downtown Seattle when a women stopped by and was chatting with him. I was very curious whats going on as the woman looked very happy to see him. It turns out Ignacio talked the women out of doing drugs several years back when she was living on the streets of Seattle. Now she has been drug free ever since and even got a job as a security personal at a local mall. I have known Ignacio for 13 years at this point but never knew this other side of him. I’ll miss you buddy. Rest in power my friend.

  4. My house was only a few minutes away from Ignacio we run up and down the streets, and played many chess games , neighbors call us the chess bandits, in fact we both left cuba flooding a danger inner tube but not together then found each other again in Guantanamo bay cuba at the refugee camp, after we arrive USA everyone split to different states. Ignacio Pérez was always quiet, smart , friendly, noble, smiling, joking and always willing to help others. Chess was his pasión, I remember him since he was a young kid. Rest in peace my friend ??

    1. Good afternoon, just came across your reply. I am studying in Cuba and while waiting at a bus stop happened to sit next to Ignacio’s mother who would like to find out more information about her son’s death and his belongings, possibly his trophy. If at all you know of a way in which I can acquire this information don’t hesitate to contact me.

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