Uzbek GM Shukhrat Safin died on 20 September of blood cancer at hospital in his home city of Samarqand. Shukhrat had been a member of the Uzbekistan national team since its early days, and played in numerous Olympiads, Asian and World team championships. Born in 1970, Shukhrat had been a Grandmaster since 1999, and had a current FIDE rating of 2472.
On the personal side, the loving father of two girls and a boy, Shukrat was a great friend, and truly the spirit of the team. Over and around the chess board, he was a true gentleman and a fair player beyond words.
Although not a world-class player, Shukhrat was an extremely strong theoretician with deep and extensive knowledge of openings. Having obtained superior positions out of the opening, though, he often lacked the determination and technique to win.
Shukhrat Safin playing against Rustam Kasimdzhanov in a clock simul by the latter in 2007
Shukhrat lost his game against the former FIDE world champion
But as such a strong openings expert, Shukhrat had one very special quality: generosity. I remember our girls telling me after the 2008 Dresden Olympiad how generous Shukhrat had been to them. We all know how valuable “home preparation” is for professional chess players, and how they keep their opening ideas secret. Shukhrat certainly didn’t follow this principle – at team events, he never hesitated to share his preparations with teammates, especially with the girls’ team. They were very young in average and were desperate for support in their matches at this Olympiad against such strong and experienced teams as Hungary (2:2), France (2:2), Croatia (2.5:1.5), Bulgaria (3:1), USA (0.5:3.5).
GM Shukhrat Safin plasing on board four of the Uzbek national team at the 2008
Dresden Olympiad, in the match agains Iraq
Shukhrat was also one of those fathers who put their family above everything, sometimes at the cost of professional growth. I remember Shukhrat telling me a few years ago, almost with tears in his eyes, a very touching story. In mid-1990s, when brain drain from developing countries of the former Soviet Union was booming, he was invited by a leading European nation’s chess federation to join them. He calculated the offer, and decided to turn it down, because for financial reasons he would have to go on his own, without his family.
We express deep condolences to Shukhrat’s family, friends and fellow players.