Did you guess correctly? – It was Shakh Mamedyarov!

4/30/2010 – The most puzzling part was our contention that there were three GMs amongst his immediate siblings and that he had never succeeded in achieving an IM title. That's because he moved straight to GM by winning the 2003 World Junior Championship. And apart from him his sisters Zeinab and Turkan are women grandmaster. Since this week Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has his own web site.

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Who is this well-known player?

We asked you to guess who the young boy in this photo is, once again we provide you with some clues. This time they were not devious but genuinely helpful, so that most of the answers we received were correct. Here are our hints:

  • He is of oriential origin, or maybe not – difficult to decide.

  • His middle name is Hamid oglu.

  • He tried but never succeeded in making an IM title.

  • He has played against and occasionally beaten no less than six world champions.

  • Amongst his immediate siblings there are three grandmasters.

  • He is the only player in the world to have won the World Junior Chess Championship title twice.

  • He has just launched his own ambitious chess web site, with pictures, videos, live games, blog and forum.

The correct answer is:

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Date of birth 12 April 1985
Country Azerbaijan
Highest world ranking four
Current world ranking six
Highest rating 2760
Current rating 2760
Hobbies football, bowling, music,
ping-pong, horse-riding

Shakhriyar Hamid oglu Mammadyarov (Azerbaijani: Şəhriyar Məmmədyarov) was born on 12th April 1985 in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. Hamid is the name of his father, oglu means son, So Shakhriyar Hamid oglu means Shakhriyar son of Hamid. In Russia he would be Shakhriyar Hamidovich, in Greece he would be Shakhriyar Hamidoulos (or Hamidakis, or Hamides), in Turkey Shakhriyar Hamidoglou, in Iran Shakhriyar Hamidzadeh. We explained all of this a long time ago in an article on names.

Shakh, as we call him, graduated from Sumgait school in 23rd place and after that decided to pursue a career of professional chess player. Shakhriyar’s father taught him how to play chess in the summer of 1993, and his first trainer at was Valide Bayramova.


Three future grandmasters: Shakhriyar, Turkan and Zeinab


WGM Turkan Mamedyarova today (actually here in 2008)


WGM Zeinab – both sisters are spelled Mamedjarova by FIDE

Mamedyarov’s family is the only family in Azerbaijan which has three chess grandmasters: GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, his older sister WGM Zeinab Mamedyarova and their younger sister WGM Turkan Mamedyarova. This chess family has twelve medals from individual European and World Championships: seven gold, three silver and two bronze. Seven of these were won by Shakhriyar: four gold, two silver and one bronze.

Shakhriyar is the only chess player in the World who became U20 World Champion twice. In 2003 he won the World Junior Chess Championship, and repeated his victory in 2005, achieving an incredible 2953 performance rating after eight rounds. He never made the IM title because he moved straight to GM by winning the 2003 World Junior Championship.

Mamedyarov has played against and occasionally beaten no less than six world champions – former, reigning, FIDE, KO: Anand, Topalov, Kasimdzhanov, Kramnik, Ponomariov, and Carlsen (future world champion).

Shahk Mamedyarov now has his own web site, which provides biographical material, interviews, games, a photo gallery, fan club, blog, guestbook and forum. The site is available in English, Russian and Azerbaijani. The latter looks vaguely Turkish (sample: Şəhriyar Məmmədyarov 12 aprel 1985-ci ildə Azərbaycanın Sumqayıt şəhərində anadan olub. O Sumqayıtda 23№-li məktəbi bitirdikdən sonra professional şahmatçı karyerasını seçmişdir). This is because Azerbaijan, with its ancient and historic cultural heritage, has a majority Turkic and Shi‘ite Muslim population. It was the first successful attempt to establish a democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world.

Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Azerbaijan's national sport, however today, the most popular sports are association football and chess. In fact the country has become one of the chess superpowers. Notable Azerbaijani chess players, apart from Shahriyar Mammadyarov, include Teimour Radjabov, Vladimir Makogonov, Vugar Gashimov, Zeinab Mamedyarova and you-know-who – Gary Kasparov, who left the country of his birth a long time agon and lives in Moscow. Azerbaijan has also hosted many international chess tournaments and competitions and became European Team Chess Championship winners in 2009.


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