Michel Contreras

Michel Contreras

Entiendo nada -o casi nada- de electricidad, soy incapaz de fabricar chivichanas y cometas, me empecé a poner viejo hace algún tiempo, tengo dos hijas bellas y un idilio tenaz con la autoestima. Sueño con ver a Dios un día. Por eso escribo

Photo: Ismario Rodriguez Perez

BandEra Studio: If you want it fight for that

Mick Jagger was settling a generational debt with thousands of Cubans when a group of rockers threw him a flag referring to the Rolling Stones as the concert was in full swing. The leader of the mythical band grabbed it with some part of his body, said thank you for the gesture with a millenary smile and put it back at the foot of the stage. That flag today serves as the inspiration for the first rock studio in Cuba, established on the first floor of a building close to the Fábrica de Arte in Havana. “The group’s flag full of signatures and dedications. I took a picture at the moment in which Jagger threw it back to his staff. That was a defining moment for us and, it might sound corny, but we felt that he was returning a baton, a responsibility: if you want it fight for that. “The photo hangs in the studio and represents that BandEra , and in addition we later combined it through design so that it would work in English (for us it seemed coherent since an immense part of our referents and our production comes from English),” says to OnCuba the creative...

Soccer 3-Baseball 0

At 4:20 p.m. of March 1, 2017, there are no shouts of “Homerun” in Cuban streets as used to happen before. In the park, in the street, in the plot of land, the only that unmistakable word heard: “Goooooal!” Like that, in the style of Andrés Cantor, with as many o’s as the throat is possible to articulate. This has been happening for a long time, and will continue to happen. Soccer has taken over the armchair, and is governing with the same authoritarian arrogance given to it by the sport presidency in Russia, Chile or Senegal. Young Cubans – to confirm it you don’t have to be a genius – prefer it over that holy beast that is called baseball. Always so concentrated on the tree instead of the forest, the island’s journalists once and again regret the situation. They say a campaign is needed to return the throne to baseball, they appeal to concepts like tradition and national pride, reminding us that it was linked to the wars of independence. They don’t say it because it would be a show of self-criticism, but, here and now, our own media is the main culprit that soccer is knocking out...

Alexei Ramírez: “Baseball is Not Just About Money”

There’s a rare species that does not mutate with the atmosphere’s changes, and when returning from glory – that remote land – continues looking with the same eyes as before; without frowning more; shaking hands with the same warm fingers; sitting the same way. The active Cuban with the most seasons in the Major Leagues belongs to that species. The only difference in the Alexei Ramírez who left the island in 2007 and the one I have in front of me is the accent and, a bit more, the look. The player from Pinar del Río now has a beard that marks the tendency in baseball. Some big tattoos battle to be noticed on the dark night of his arms. Two pompous earrings adorn his ears. Enigmatically, there isn’t single new pound on his body. I was able to reach him thanks to the kindheartedness of Luis Giraldo Casanova, who organized the meeting and offered his home. Alexei waits for me in the back, after the lateral hallway, almost on the edge of the patio. The first thing that caught my eye was that he smokes. The other is that he smiles with a schoolboy’s shyness. In a quiet voice,...

Ian Padrón / Photo: Iván de La Rosa

Ian Padrón: “A country that does not look to the past cannot have a good future”

Ian Padrón just gathered all looks on the latest installment of the Lucas Awards, but it is not the reason that brings him to this interview, but another, as Benedetti would say, "deeper and simpler". The reason is baseball, specifically the recent re-founding of the Hall of Fame in Cuba. The public links Padrón with baseball since 2003, when he released that anthological documentary, "Fuera de Liga". However, his essential contribution to our hobby is, as he accepts, is to have spearheaded efforts of the management group who raised a child asleep for over half a century. "In the last four months I have put aside my personal and professional life because I feel I'm doing something useful for my country. So I moved to tears the day that the restoration of the Hall became official. Nobody can say that this is not a noble act, an act of nationalism and respect for baseball. The child is already reborn. Now it is about wrap him up, take care of mosquitoes, immunizing against misunderstandings, but is now back among us. " How did this process that gave us back the Hall of Fame start? When this summer I was invited to...

Robert Beamon

The afternoon Bob Beamon flew

This afternoon a gentle wind is blowing in Mexico City. Although forecasts spoke of heavy rains, clouds are few and scattered. In the distance, the cotton and corn plantations remain motionless; the summit of Popocatepetl sleeps still. Along with a high flame cauldron, the banner of the nation is waving gently. It is October 18, 1968. They are at the Olympics. At 3 and 45 minutes in the afternoon, several athletes are competing in the final of the long jump, where now a black man ​​with the number 254 on the back is getting ready... “Robert Beamon! “is heard through the loudspeakers. They had predicted him discrete results, especially because in the qualifier he barely managed to pass. He was a slim black man, thinness seems to stem his strength, but there must be a reason for him to be included in the northern Olympic luminaries. He slowly approaches the start. He looks for concentration in the sky. One, two, three seconds, and he starts running. Magnificent sprint, the perfect stomp on the table: and off, closed hard fists, stretching his head, he flies ... His body now is a bow; feet cut the air like daggers. Beamon looks like...

The scandal of Despaigne and the self-esteem

Right now there is no a bigger news in the world of baseball. Neither the contract of Yulieski Gourriel in Japan - because it was something we saw coming, or the elbow injury of José Fernández- because that kind of event belongs to the calculations , or the violent beginning of campaign by Troy Tulowitzki. After all, the Rockies shortstop has always been an offensive phenomenon. The news today on baseball pages is linked to Cuban outfielder Alfredo Despaigne who obviously has been playing in the Mexican League with a fake Dominican passport. Despaigne, an undisputed star of the team Cuba, from the previous season saw plays with the Piratas de Campeche, for which he shows an overall .337 average (69 hits in 205 at-bats) with 13 homers and 38 RBIs in 51 games. Great performance. However, it happens that the Mexican professional championship is affiliated with the National Association of Baseball America with the rank of Triple- A, and therefore it has to follow the regulations concerning the U.S. blockade against Cuba. The story is kind of blurred and it looks hard it would get any clearer soon. According to ESPN.com, in an article written by well-known journalist Enrique...

Cepeda, the Giants, doors that open

Rather than the triumph of Pinar Del Río in the National Series or Yarisley Silva’s victory at the World Indoor Athletics, the sports story of the year in the country has been the confirmation that Frederich Cepeda signed a contract with the Japanese Yomiuri Giants. The possibility that active players in Cuba leave to intervene in the Asian Major Leagues was there for some years , but until now they had never taken the first step , which as we know is often the most difficult one. Hence the relevance of this event involving the star left fielder of Cuban national teams in the last decade. The switch hitter, with 17 Series played, that the Japanese side did not hesitate to qualify as one of the best Cuban players of all ages, said he was proud to restart of this kind of exchange, interrupted since Omar Linares played there in 2002-2005. “I am going to Japan to give my best, it is one of the greatest things that have happened in my career," Cepeda told reporters. Cepeda , who has shined in three World Classics and won the Olympic title in Atenas'04 enjoys offensives on both sides from the plate,...

Zukertort, a la izquierda, durante su match contra Steinitz.

Total beauty

Most likely, Johannes Zukertort would have not exchanged his kingdom for a horse, but would have given his life in exchange for a combination on the chessboard. That was, in his opinion , the secret key of happiness. This Polish, a full-blown romantic who was a disciple of the legendary Adolf Anderssen, represented an insuperable power to all players of his time, with the exception of that irascible Wilhelm Steinitz who beat him in the first official match for the world crown, held in New Orleans in 1886.(Actually, Zukertort was overwhelmed by the defensive capacity of the bearded man of Prague, and in an effort to achieve victory through relentless attack and elegance of tactical blows ; he never understood that the accumulation of small advantages was a great resource to ensure the point). Zukertort had plenty of talent. It is said that he studied chemistry and physiology; he had a medical degree and was a music critic, newspaper editor, amazing polyglot, seasoned fencer; he fought in three wars and was an expert in the use of firearms. His memory was a wonder, and he thoroughly exploited it playing blind matches . By 1883, the creative abilities of the Polish...

The size of his hope

Nobody ever imagine how much optimism and passion that Danish had in his soul. His name was Bent Larsen, and he could have been anything he liked in this life. He, fortunately, chose chess. He died in the twenty-first century, but touched the skies in the 20 th and played as played in the nineteenth. That is, not afraid of anything, risking the game and pride just to knock down the opponent's king. The name Larsen means blood . The Nordic had a very personal way to understand the game. For him, it was a generous war but till death and he faced it with a bizarre spirit, which earned him the love of public and colleagues. He was original at all costs, and was also a fan of unused openings (like the one of the Bishop or the Viennese), and never accepted fashion lines or the help of a coach. Larsen saw the game only through Larsen’s eyes. He had plenty of talent, ambition, strength, and the romantic chess of his predecessors could be seen, nostalgically and perennially, in each of his moves. That chess contaminated him since he was twelve, when a thorough study of the King's Gambit...

Chess Player and Musician: Smyslov

He loved music and chess. For the first he had a magnificent baritone voice, through which he offered concerts during tournaments accompanied on the piano by another Grandmaster: Mark Taimanov. But the Bolshoi Theatre did not select him, and then he decided to devote himself entirely to the second. Vassily Smyslov, as modest away from the chess board as impressive in front of it, was a methodical player in the style of the immortal Viennese Ricardo Reti. He blindly believed in his chess model, derived from a careful study of the romantic, classical and contemporary players, and the full assimilation of such school made him a very complete chess player, punisher on positional game and the finals, but also in the ways of more tactical chess. He was born in Moscow in 1921, and absorbed from childhood the legacy of his father, fervent chess lover who once had the privilege of beating Alexander Alekhine in St. Petersburg. More than a hundred books went a good day from the hands of the father to the child’s, and this led to the explosive technical and theoretical growth of who later was proclaimed seventh champion of the science game. Smyslov's talent emerged quickly....

Fatal Attraction

There was, back in the eighties of last century, a film that shook the Earth’s loving shaft, in which Glenn Close got into the skin of a schizophrenic who made ​​ life miserable for Michael Douglas . However, the original version of the film, which is called ¨Fatal Attraction, ¨ seems to have been filmed in London in the distant 1912...

The symphony of Steinitz

Wilhelm Steinitz was no longer world champion when he played his best game of chess. He lost the crown in the spring of 1894 against young German Emanuel Lasker, but a year later, while everyone thought his talent was gone for good, he was reborn as Phoenix on the difficult 64 square board. He played the masterpiece in the mythical Hastings tournament, perhaps the most famous in history, bringing together the cream of the era: the very same Lasker, Pillsbury, Chigorin, Tarrasch ... Then, already 59, the former monarch was only fifth in the standings, but made ​​his mark with a dazzling game that deserved the Beauty Award in that event. His victim was a high-priced player, Curt Von Bardeleben, who reached the tenth round occupying the third position, just half a unit away from the vanguard. And the weapon used was the depth of calculation, exploded to almost inhuman limits by a cold brain, that that afternoon, meant the humiliation of the opponent. Oddly, because crushing his opponent hadn’t been for some time high on the philosophy of Steinitz. Years before, fueled by a pothole in the sport, he had moved away from the romantic connection of his contemporaries...

Vallejo and I

(Based on a real dream) The poet sits opposite me. He has that stern face I always see in his photos, with features that seem sculpted with an incompetent ax. At this point I do not remember if he shakes my hand or if he greets me with a trivial phrase. But I do not forget that he seats crossing her legs and looks at me with the sharp eye of a chieftain.

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