"Guille" the Best of the 70s in Cuba
Guillermo Garcia Gonzales was born in Santa Clara on December 9, 1953 and learned chess at the age of six. His triumphs were predicted one day when an unknown woman, overwhelmed by the heat, took water at the Garcia residence in Santa Clara and gratefully made the prediction to the lady of the house, "one of your four children bears the white cross on the roof of the mouth, and he will do great things.” The mother, intrigued, later found that the youngest of the three boys carried this mark; and the years would bear out the prophecy.
In 1971 he won the Junior National Championship, beating the 11 rivals, among them the famous Amador Rodriguez, Jose Luis Vilela and Nelson Pinal, in Palmas de Gran Canarias. In 1974, he earned his first Grandmaster norm with 10 of 15, tying for second with Beliavsky and Olafsson and a point behind the tournament winner Ljubojevic. The participants included: Polugaevsky, Andersson, Larsen, Ribli and Kovalek. Larsen praised the game of Guillermo in that tournament. That same year, he won his first national championship, which he did twice more, in 1976 and 1983. Also in 1974 he got the International Master title.
Among his major victories are: Zurich in 1975 and Plovdiv in 1976, Orense in 1977; in 1978 the Zonal of Cuenca, Ecuador, and J. Rebelde in Havana. He won this tournament also in 1980, 82 , 85 and 86. He won in 1979 at Maspalomas in Spain; in 1980 at Cespedes in Bayamo, and the Capablanca Memorial in Cienfuegos, (this was the first time a Cuban won this tournament); Pristina, in Yugoslavia in 1981, and the 1981 Zonal in Bayamo; in 1982 at Caracas, Venezuela. The same year he started with 6.5 of 8 in the Interzonal of Moscow, drawing in round 8 with Kasparov for the second time, the first draw having come in Banjaluka 79. Then he only got 1 point of 5 and lost in the last round, tying for fifth-sixth with Geller.
Other tournaments that can be considered quite successful were Villa Clara in 1984 and 1985. A particularly impressive result was when Guillermo won second place in the New York Open Tournament of 1988 with 6.5 of 9, behind only Ivanchuck. Unfortunately, the arbitrary imposition of the U.S. Treasury Department, based on the embargo against Cuba, prevented Guillermo from collecting his rightful prize rising to 10 thousand dollars. This was considered as the most interesting novelty of the event, in one of the issues of the magazine New in Chess, published in Holland, which saw the event as "a new and truly abominable case, the interference of politics in the affairs of sports." His money went into a blocked account in his name, and could only be extracted if he moved to another country.
I had the opportunity to play a five minute game with him in the Capablanca Chess Club, in Havana. He was looking for Jesus Rodriguez who was also champion of Cuba, and Jesus asked him to play a game with me. He beat me, but it was a nice experience for me, because he was one of my idols; I remember, GM Vera always said to me that Guillermo and me, we had the same character.
From 1974 until 1982, he defended the Cuban first board in Olympiads. Later he served on the second (1984 and 1986) and third in 1988. He participated in 7 Olympiads, with ( +32 =38 -20), andin six student team tournaments from 1969 to 1978 , winning gold medals in the first board ,in Mexico 77 and 78.
A fatal car accident severed his life on October 26, 1990 in Havana; he was preparing to intervene in the Olympiad. Cuba lost one of its leading figures, and an admired and beloved friend who will always be remembered.