Chess in the birthplace of Modern Persian

by Nima Javanbakht
3/27/2012 – Mashhad is known as the city of Ferdowsi (940–1020), the Iranian poet and author of Shahnameh (“Book of Kings”), which is considered to be the most important work in Persian literature. Ferdowsi also loved chess, and wrote poetry about its emergence. In his honor, the 2nd Ferdowsi International Chess Open was recently held. 16-year-old FM Nima Javanbakht has the report. | Pictured: Courtiers of Bayasanghori playing chess in the Shahnameh | Public domain

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Chess in the birthplace of Modern Persian

FerdowsiMashhad is known as the city of Ferdowsi (940–1020), the Iranian poet and author of Shahnameh (“Book of Kings”), which is considered to be the national epic of Iran. Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, the product of over three decades of labor (977 to 1010), is the most popular and influential work in Iran and other Persian-speaking nations. Among its themes, Ferdowsi complains about poverty and the ravages of old age.

Ferdowsi [pictured at right | Photo: Muhammad CC BY-SA] also wrote poetry about the emergence of chess, and he was not alone as other Iranian poets and writers loved chess and their literature and old books all talk about  it.

Mashhad is at the the centre of the Razavi Khorasan province, located in northeastern Iran, and is not only the second largest city in Iran, but also one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. Today, Mashhad is notably known as the resting place of the Imam Reza.

Shrine of Imam Reza

Imam Reza shrine | Photo: mohammad hosein tabatabaeian CC BY-SA

2nd Ferdowsi International Chess Open Tournament.

The second Ferdowsi International Chess tournament drew 136 participants, consisting of 8 GMs, 10 IMs, 5 FIDE masters from 11 countries (Azerbaijani, Uzbekistan, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, India, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Pakistan, Iran) and was held in the city of Mashhad, Iran.

Tournament poster

A generous $25,000 prizefund was reserved for the event.

Final Ranking

Rk Tit Name Fed Rtg Pts  TB 
1 GM Pashikian Arman ARM 2608 9.0 79.5
2 GM Tiviakov Sergei NED 2677 8.5 76.5
3 IM Darini Pouria IRI 2458 8.5 75.5
4 GM Fominyh Alexander RUS 2479 8.5 74.0
5 FM Javanbakht Nima IRI 2389 8.5 70.0
6 GM Mahjoob Morteza IRI 2440 8.0 78.5
7 IM Idani Pouya IRI 2448 8.0 73.0
8 GM Babujian Levon ARM 2474 8.0 72.5
9 GM Ibrahimov Rasul AZE 2550 8.0 72.0
10 IM Shalamberidze Akaki GEO 2330 8.0 70.5
11 IM Alavi Sayed Javad IRI 2442 8.0 70.0

This image is not a magician, but that of Sergei Tiviakov celebrating his birthday.
The good-tempered Dutch grandmaster took second place. | Photo: Reza Pashanejati

The Khayam Tournament specifically for women | Photo: Reza Pashanejati

Rasul Ibrahimov (Azerbaijan) playing Pouria Darini (Iran), 0-1 in round 10. Pouria Darini
came thiurd and scored a GM norm. | Photo: Reza Pashanejati

Memorial plaques given at the event | Photo: Reza Pashanejati

Armenian GM Amran Pashikian (first), Sergey Tiviakov (second)
and Pouria Darini (third). | Photo: Reza Pashanejati

Nima Javanbakht, the author, in action | Photo: Reza Pashanejati


Nima Javanbakht is an International Master originally from Isfahan, Iran, who believes chess is more than just a boardgame! He earned a Bachelor’s degree in 2018 and is pursuing PhD studies (from January 2020) at National University of Singapore (NUS).


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