Dylan Berdayes… Cuba’s 47th Grandmaster!

GM-elect Dylan Berdayes
Photo by ACN (Cuba)

Dylan Berdayes will be the next Grandmaster of Cuba, the country’s 47th. Last October he earned his 3rd GM norm at the Clemente Vazquez Chess Championship in Havana. In the last round, he drew with International Master Ernesto Giron from El Salvador finishing on 7/9 (+5=4-0). Berdayes’ first norm was at the 2018 Capablanca Memorial and the second at the Catalan Invitational in Spain. He will wait for the conferral of his title at the 1st FIDE Council in April.

During an interview with Javier Rodriguez Perera he stated,

“Convertirme en GM ha sido muy importante para mí, es una meta que tenía desde niño y la cumplí. Como me decía un gran amigo, GM se es una sola vez. Tras conseguir este propósito, tengo como objetivos obtener el título absoluto de Cuba,otro de mis sueños de la niñez, e integrar el equipo olímpico antillano. Veremos cuál de los dos ocurre primero.”

“Becoming a GM has been very important to me, it is a goal that I had since I was a child and I fulfilled it. As a great friend told me, GM is only once. After achieving this purpose, I have as an objective to obtain the absolute title of Cuba, another of my childhood dreams, and join the Cuban Olympiad team. We will see which of the two occurs first.”

Berdayes on his way to his final GM norm.
Photo by Daniel Gotay Torres

During the COVID period of March 2020 to March 2022, the 24-year-old had considered giving up chess until he was offered an opportunity as a trainer. Taking a job as a trainer while maintaining chess aspirations is a double-edged sword. Some believe it slows progress since organizing as a trainer for a student is different from organizing as a player.

Being a trainer is also very time-consuming. However, it seemed to help Berdayes. He admitted to being a bit “lazy” for training, but being a coach would force him to be “on top of chess” and to be committed. According to Rodriguez’s article:

Comenzó a entrenar a la pinareña Yerisbel Miranda, campeona nacional en 2017 y miembro del conjunto olímpico femenino de la Isla. Dicha responsabilidad lo motivó a mantenerse preparado y a organizar clases exigentes, al tener Miranda un nivel elevado. Ese rigor profesional le funcionó a él como antesala para obtener muy buenos desempeños el pasado año, incluidas su segunda (tras ganar el circuito catalán en España) y tercera norma de GM.

He began training Yerisbel Miranda from Pinar del Río, national champion in 2017 and member of the island’s women’s Olympic team. This responsibility motivated him to stay prepared and organize demanding classes, since Miranda has a high level. That professional rigor worked for him as a prelude to obtaining very good performances last year, including his second (after winning the Catalan circuit in Spain) and third GM norm.

Berdayes received an IM norm at the 2017 Remberto Fernandez tournament held at the University of Informatics Sciences (UCJ). He would earn the title in the next year. Photo by Abel Castillio Noriega (UCJ)

Berdayes is the latest in a long history of Afro-Cuban players which includes several Grandmasters. Román Hernández Onna, (Santiago de Cuba) was the first player in the African Diaspora to earn the GM title in 1978. Former national champion and Cuban legend Rogelio Ortega is perhaps the most well-known of this distinguished group, although he never earned the GM title. Ortega has a popular memorial tournament in his honor.

Cuba is proud of its diverse heritage and the passion for chess is as great as anywhere in the world. Apparently, the newest GM prefers to be a free spirit and prefers shorts and flip-flops. Berdayes is looking for more success in international tournaments and hopes to win a national championship and compete on the Cuban Olympiad team one day.

Other articles:

Games (ChessBase): https://players.chessbase.com/en/player/Berdayes%20Ason_Dylan%20Isidro/22946

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