Shamkir: Gashimov Memorial starts on Thursday

by Alejandro Ramirez
5/25/2016 – The Shamkir super-tournament, also known as the Gashimov Memorial, kicks off tomorrow with an interesting range of players. Despite the absence of two-time winner Magnus Carlsen, the field is star-studded, with big names such as Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Hou Yifan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and others. We bring you a small preview, the opening ceremony and the schedule of our live broadcast!

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The Vugar Gashimov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the May 26 to June 4, 2016, in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament features ten world-class players: Fabiano Caruana (2795), Anish Giri (2790), Sergey Karjakin (2779), Pavel Eljanov (2750), Pentala Harikrishna (2763), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2750), Teimour Radjabov (2726), Eltaj Safarli (2664), Hou Yifan (2663) and Rauf Mamedov (2650). The time control is 120/40 moves + 60/20 moves + 15 minutes + 30 seconds/move at 61st move.

The player list at the official website. Of course, Caruana now plays for USA, not Italy

The tournament is in celebration and memory of Vugar Gashimov, one of the greatest stars of Azerbaijani chess. His passing was a big blow not only for chess in Azerbaijan, but around the World.

Born on July 24th, 1986 in Baku, Vugar Gashimov achieved his peak ranking, world #6, in November, 2009. Representing Azerbaijani team, he became the European champion in 2009. He played a crucial role in the historical victory of the national team at the European Championship held in Serbia. In 2011 he became the winner of Reggio Emilia chess tournament held in Italy since 1958. Playing on behalf of several chess clubs, he became the champion of Croatia, Turkey, Romania, Iran, Spain and Moldova. A silver medalist, Gashimov was known as a particularly strong blitz chess player. Owner of more than 72 titles, Vugar Gashimov is the winner of Kasparov Cup. For his individual indicators, he became silver medalist of the Chess Olympiad held in 2008. He is also a silver and bronze-medalist of the World Intellectual Games.

Vugar Gashimov passed away on January 10th, 2014 in Heidelberg, Germany at the age of 27. The grandmaster from Baku had been ill for a long time and was under treatment for the last year and a half.

The setup in Shamkir, during round five two years ago: the three Group A games are on the stage,
the five Group B games in the area in front of it. The A-Group was a double round robin
(ten rounds), the second a simple round robin with nine rounds and ended a day earlier.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony took place a couple of hours ago. Many important dignitaries from FIDE as well as from the Azerbaijani government were present. For the players the main purpose of the night was to draw their pairing numbers, and with that be able to appropriately prepare against their opponents.

If you didn't get the memo, blue suits are in

Fabiano Caruana got number four, at more whites than blacks

Mr. Hassanov, Vice-President of the Azerbaijani Chess Federation

The ever contentious FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was present in Baku. Kirsan recently announced that he will file a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department in response to sanctions imposed on him. We will have a full article on this later.

Pentala Harikrishna from India starts with number seven

Plenty of important "behind the scenes" people in the front row of this picture. Amon others, Karjakin's manager Kirillos Zangali (white shirt), Hou Yifan's mother, Wang Qian, Giri's wife, Sopiko Guramashvili, etc!

Preview

The tournament is certainly not as strong as last year's edition. Two-time winner of Shamkir, Magnus Carlsen, will not be back to defend his title. One can only speculate on the reason for Carlsen not returning, but among other things the myriad of top level tournaments that are being held this year is mind-boggling. Between the traditional tournaments, such as Wijk aan Zee, Zurich and Shamkir, there are many other events just around the corner. The Grand Chess Tour rapid and blitz events start in less than two weeks, there is an Olympiad this year as well as a World Championship match.

But even without the presence of the World Champion this is a top-class event. Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri come in as the top dogs in the tournament, with the highest two ratings. However, many eyes will be on the performance of Sergey Karjakin. This is the Russian's first event since his victory in Moscow at the Candidate's, and many accused him of running away from a confrontation over the board against Carlsen in Norway. His performance here in Shamkir might be an important gauge for the upcoming match in November.

It's rare to describe a player as "upcoming" if they were born before 1990, but this seems to be the case for both Pavel Eljanov and Pentala Harikrishna. Both have been established 2700s for years, but its only in the past year or so that both of these players have catapulted themselves to a position where they can threaten to be part of the top-10. Eljanov is currently sixteenth after an atrocious performance in Norway, where he lost the last three rounds, while Harikrishna is currently twelfth and seeks to finally take the #1 rating spot in India for himself. He will need to win seven rating points to pass Anand.

The Azerbaijanis are a dangerous bunch, with wildly different styles. Teimour Radjabov is an extremely solid player who has brushed the 2800 rating at his prime, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is one of the most combative and unpredictable players in the circuit. Rauf Mamedov and Eltaj Safarli, the two younger Azerbaijanis, will have much to prove in this tournament. Mamedov had a very solid showing last year with many draws, but he will probably go for more points this year.

Last, but certainly not least, is Hou Yifan. With her withdrawal from the Women's Championship Cycle, it is time for Yifan to make her way towards 2700.

Schedule and results

Round 1 – May 26, 2016
Rauf Mamedov
-
Anish Giri
Teimour Radjabov
-
Hou Yifan
Eltaj Safarli
-
Pavel Eljanov
Fabiano Caruana
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Sergey Karjakin
Round 3 – May 28, 2016
Teimour Radjabov
-
Anish Giri
Eltaj Safarli
-
Rauf Mamedov
Fabiano Caruana
-
Hou Yifan
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Pavel Eljanov
Sergey Karjakin
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 5 – May 30, 2016
Eltaj Safarli
-
Anish Giri
Fabiano Caruana
-
Teimour Radjabov
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Rauf Mamedov
Sergey Karjakin
-
Hou Yifan
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Pavel Eljanov
Round 6 – June 1, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Pavel Eljanov
Hou Yifan
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Rauf Mamedov
-
Sergey Karjakin
Teimour Radjabov
-
Shak Mamedyarov
Eltaj Safarli
-
Fabiano Caruana
Round 8 – June 3, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Hou Yifan
Rauf Mamedov
-
Pavel Eljanov
Teimour Radjabov
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Eltaj Safarli
-
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
-
Shak Mamedyarov
 
Round 2 – May 27, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Sergey Karjakin
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Shak Mamedyarov
Pavel Eljanov
-
Fabiano Caruana
Hou Yifan
-
Eltaj Safarli
Rauf Mamedov
-
Teimour Radjabov
Round 4 – May 29, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Pavel Eljanov
-
Sergey Karjakin
Hou Yifan
-
Shak Mamedyarov
Rauf Mamedov
-
Fabiano Caruana
Teimour Radjabov
-
Eltaj Safarli
May 31, 2016
Free day
Round 7 – June 2, 2016
Fabiano Caruana
-
Anish Giri
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Eltaj Safarli
Sergey Karjakin
-
Teimour Radjabov
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Rauf Mamedov
Pavel Eljanov
-
Hou Yifan
Round 9 – June 4, 2016
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin
-
Fabiano Caruana
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Eltaj Safarli
Pavel Eljanov
-
Teimour Radjabov
Hou Yifan
-
Rauf Mamedov

Live commentary on Playchess

Date Round English German
26.5.2016 Round 1 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
27.5.2016 Round 2 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
28.5.2016 Round 3 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
29.5.2016 Round 4 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
30.5.2016 Round 5 Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
01.6.2016 Round 6 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
02.6.2016 Round 7 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
03.6.2016 Round 8 Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
04.6.2016 Round 9 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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buddenbrook buddenbrook 5/26/2016 02:09
Just going to make a general observation, not criticizing the organizers. Would love to see the young Rapport in some of these super tournaments. He's one of the most original players ever to play chess at a 2700+ level, taking the Morozevich approach a step further, which especially in the era of computers is quite incredible to witness. And he's still a junior pushing to improve, so it will be highly interesting to follow how far that approach can take him and whether he will be forced to alter it against the very best.

Fans and organisers alike would love to see fighting chess, so it's bit of a mystery that the exciting talent from Hungary has not been getting the invitations.
Thomas Richter Thomas Richter 5/26/2016 08:59
Hou Yifan and Mamedyarov are "big names" like Caruana and Giri, while Karjakin falls under "others" (introductory paragraph)? After the candidates event, Karjakin did play three games at the Russian Team Championship (solid draw against Grischuk, loss against Svidler, tough draw against Kramnik).

Withdrawal from the Women's championship or not, it's indeed time for Hou Yifan to reach 2700 - to finally justify the many invitations she got before even reaching this goal (extended world top).
chesswalrus chesswalrus 5/26/2016 05:04
An Italian flag next to Caruana? Is someone running behind? Better get that fixed before the Olympiads.
gmwdim gmwdim 5/26/2016 03:26
Tough draw for Hou Yifan and Rauf Mamedov, the two lowest rated players also get 5 blacks.
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 5/26/2016 12:53
Go Hou !!!!
algorithmy algorithmy 5/26/2016 12:20
Nice to see you back Ramirez
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