The tournament in Shamkir is a memorial to Vugar Gashimov, and it's not just the man (as a man) who deserves to be remembered, but the man as a chess player as well. Accordingly, a small tribute here, hopefully one of many to be written in the years to come.
Entries in Vugar Gashimov (4)
The late Azeri grandmaster Vugar Gashimov was not just a tremendously strong player who died at a terribly early age, he was to all accounts very well-liked and admired as well. It is therefore fitting that just a few months after his death he is already being honored with a super-tournament in his memory. It is being held in Shamkir, in his native Azerbaijan, and will run from April 20-30. It is a six-player double-round robin, with the following players:
- Magnus Carlsen (2882)
- Fabiano Caruana (2783)
- Hikaru Nakamura (2772)
- Sergey Karjakin (2770)
- Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2760)
- Teimour Radjabov (2713)
It's a great field of young stars, rightly including the world champion and Gashimov's two main contemporaries. It would be nice to see some sentimental story lines playing out: will anyone play the Modern Benoni? It has long had a slightly dodgy reputation at the highest levels, but Gashimov played it often and with great success. And can his countrymen rise to the occasion and win in his memory? I hope on this occasion that it happens, but we will see starting in just under a week.
Update: I should add that there's also a strong, concurrent B-event; a ten-player single round robin with Azeris Rauf Mamedov, Eltaj Safarli, Gadir Guseinov, Vasif Durarbayli, Nijat Abasov and foreigners Etienne Bacrot, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Wang Hao, Pavel Eljanov and Alexander Motylev.
Here's a wide-ranging interview, closing with a few comments about Vugar Gashimov and the memorial tournament in his honor starting in a few days.
(HT: Jaideep Unudurti)
Sad news comes today of the passing of Azeri grandmaster Vugar Gashimov, who died yesterday (Friday - January 10). He had been in the hospital for a year and a half, and had been suffering from brain problems for a long time.
From page 266 of the Reggio Emilia 2007/2008 tournament book by Mihail Marin and Yuri Garrett:
Vugar's talent was clear from the start. With the help of IMs Rauf Gadjily and Anar Allahverdev, his first successes arrived at age 9: he was Azeri champion for his age group, and runner-up at both the European and World U10 Championships (1996). In 1998, as a mere 12-year-old, Vugar was awarded the IM title. At Christmas that same year, as Vugar proudly relates, he decided to become a chess professional after meeting the President of Azerbaijan, Hejdar Alev.
Unfortunately, in February 2000 [DM: five months before his 14th birthday], the first symptoms of a devastating form of epilepsy began to appear and Vugar was repeatedly troubled by this illness. This is probably why the GM title arrived "only" in 2002, when Vugar was all of 16 years old. In 2005 Vugar underwent a successful operation on his brain at the University of Bonn (two previous surgeries, performed in Turkey in 2004, had not solved all of his problems). Not surprisingly, his chess career leapt forward from this moment onwards.
Indeed, while overshadowed by his countrymen Teimour Radjabov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Gashimov reached a fantastic peak rating of 2761 in January of 2012. Unfortunately, that month he played in his final tournaments (plus a pair of Bundesliga games in early February). He was diagnosed later that year with a brain tumor, and apparently he struggled with that up until it took his life last night.
To all accounts Gashimov was a pleasant individual, the kind of player and person you want to root for. I'm sure tributes will pour in over the next few days, but for now here are reports on ChessVibes and ChessBase.
Rest in peace.