Remembering Vugar Gashimov

1/28/2014 – Azeri GM Vugar Gashimov was one of the leading chess players of his country, having played in four Chess Olympiads, winning gold for Azerbaijani European Team Chess Championship in 2009. On the night of January 10-11, at the age of just 27, he died of a recurrent, malignant brain tumor. His girlfriend, Elisabeth W, was with him to the end. She tells us what Vugar was like.

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Remembering Vugar Gashimov, 1986 – 2014

By Elisabeth W.

Vugar is among the most wonderful people I ever had the pleasure to meet. The strong emotional bond we developed transformed quickly into a deep love, we were not only a couple, but also best friends. To this day all I know about chess are the basic rules, and I haven't yet played in a proper game of chess. Chess never played a preeminent role in our relationship, yet Vugar's successes and his Elo rating bear testimony to his outstanding talent for the game.

Elisabeth and Vugar in Beijing in 2011

Being a layperson in this area myself, I could neither assess the course of chess tournaments, nor their results, like a professional player might have been able to. I was always very proud of Vugar's talent and abilities in this field, but more than that I saw his other positive traits, which were even greater than every single brilliant chess game he played.

Vugar was a level-headed person who always put more emphasis on the well-being of others than his own. He was a person with a great sense of beauty and aesthetics, a person, who could find joy in the simple things of life – always with a smile on his face. For him, happiness meant making other people happy. Vugar was a thoughtful person with a lot of interests: he was a person with an affinity for everything cultural, he composed poems and loved philosophizing about life, listening to music for hours on end, interpreting song lyrics, telling anecdotes, and playing tennis and FIFA on his computer.

Happy times: with Shakhriyar Mammadyarov (left) in Beijing

A few weeks before he was diagnosed with having a "recurrent, malignant brain tumor" he made a dream of his come true: he learned to play the piano. Since then he played the piece "River flows in you", which he was able to learn in this short amount of time, for me on several occasions. My joy and enthusiasm turned into a state of shock very quickly after learning about his diagnose, and only Vugar's fighting spirit and optimism could alleviate this. Even at times when Vugar was burdened mentally or physically he offered me a shoulder to lean on.

Vugar and Elisabeth in Budapest in 2011

I remember well when he was about to go into surgery at the hospital in Bonn: he had a smile on his face. Two days later, when he returned from the ICU to his room, same thing: he had a smile on his face. One can very well describe Vugar's nature with words like humor, vitality and openness, and that is exactly how he will remain in my memory.

This photo was taken on the beach in San Sebastian, on New Year's day 2012

Vugar, I have never loved a man as much as I have loved you. Thank you for the countless, wonderful moments, that I had the honor to share with you. You will always be with me in my heart, accompanying me every step of the way, and my memories of you will brighten my days and give me courage.

Vugar, you were an amazing person! Thank you.

ChessBase report from 1/11/2014

GM Vugar Gashimov, 1986 – 2014
Vugar Gashimov was one of the leading chess players of Azerbaijan, playing for his country in four Chess Olympiads, as well as winning gold for the Azeri team at the European Team Championship 2009. During the past decade he suffered from a brain tumor and, during treatment for this in a hospital in Germany, Vugar Gashmimov died on the night of 10-11 January 2014. He was just 27.

Some messages of condolence from our readers

Kenneth Calitri, USA
How incredibly tragic and sad this talented GM and interesting human being has passed away. His star was just beginning to shine at the top level. A very sad and sobering day when I read this news.

Jorge Shinozaki, Tokyo, Japan
This news shocked me because I didn't know he had so serious health problem and was waiting for his comeback. The chess world lost a great artist of the game. RIP Vugar Gashimov.

Niima, Vancouver, Canada
Charousek, Pillsbury, Stein, Gashimov. All of them left the world too early, before they could demonstrate their full potential. Rest in peace Vugar.

Scott Young, United States
Such a shame to lose him so early. His games were an inspiration. R.I.P.

Gustavo, Columbia
I am really sad to hear about GM Vugar Gashimov death. He was really an outstanding player and there is no doubt that with him the Azerbajan team would have been a magnificent force, very hard to beat. In my humble opinion he deserves a special report for his great achiviements during his unfortunately short life. May Vugar rest in peace. This is a big loss in the chess world.

Aimen Rizouk, Barcelona
It’s really heart-breaking news. Gashimov was such a young and such a brilliant person, very sad he’d left to soon. My sincere condolences to his family. His contributions to chess will shine eternally. Rest in peace Vugar!

Juan Ramón Herrera-Arteaga, Tenerife (Spain)
Sad news. A young and strong grandmaster has passed away. In the afterlife he is playing and enjoying against (among others) Karen Asrian, and hoping for peace in the world. RIP Vugar.

Iman Khandaker, Melbourne
So sorry to lose someone before their time. We hoped that modern medicine might conjure up a kind of fortress ... but it seems that some positions cannot be held. At least he had the consolation of being a national hero - his moment in the sun was too short, but still brighter than most.

Prof. Nagesh Havanur, Bangalore, India
Deeply shocked and saddened by the news. Thank you for the obituary and tribute to a young promise that was cut short.


Topics Gashimov
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