Starting Friday: Gashimov Memorial with Shakh, Rapport, Vidit & co.

by André Schulz
12/5/2023 – The Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2023 will be held in Gabala, Azerbaijan, on December 8-11. Ten strong grandmasters will compete in a combined rapid chess and blitz tournament. The event is held in memory of the former world-class player Vugar Gashimov, who sadly died of a brain tumour in January 2014, at the age of 27.

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Top-level rapid and blitz

The traditional Vugar Gashimov Memorial, in memory of the world-class Azerbaijani grandmaster, will be held in Gabala on December 8-11. It will be a 10-player rapid and blitz tournament. The venue is the Gabala Garden Hotel. The organiser is the Vugar Gashimov Foundation, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Chess Federation of Azerbaijan.

The field consists of five Azerbaijani players, namely Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2723), Teimour Radjabov (2723), Rauf Mamedov (2651), Nijat Abasov (2641) and Aydin Suleymanli (2609) and five international grandmasters, Vidit Gujrathi (2737), Richard Rapport (2731), Arjun Erigaisi (2727), Jorden Van Foreest (2679) and Boris Gelfand.

The action will start daily at 13.00 local time (15.00 CET, 9.00 ET, 19.30 IST)

Vugar Gashimov

Every year, a tournament is organised in Azerbaijan in memory of Vugar Gashimov. Born on 24 July 1986, he learned to play chess at the age of six from his father, who was a great board game fan and had successfully participated in several Soviet military championships.

Vugar Gashimov won the Azerbaijan Youth Championships in his age group in 1995, 1996 and 1998, and was runner-up in the European Youth Championships four times between 1996 and 2000. In 1998, he became the youngest International Master in the world at the age of 12. In 1999, Gashimov won the Kasparov Cup youth tournament in Moscow.

During his youth, Vugar Gashimov was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to interrupt his chess career for several years due to the illness. After several operations, he felt better for a while. He returned to the chessboard in 2005, won a number of tournaments and played in team championships in many European leagues. In 2008, Gashimov reached the top ten in the FIDE ratings list and soon occupied sixth place in the world rankings. In 2009, Gashimov won the gold medal with the Azerbaijani team at the European Team Championship. This was followed by further excellent results in various tournaments.

At the 2011 European Team Championship, Gashimov fell ill during a game and had to abandon the event, but played again in other competitions. Gashimov's last tournament was the Corus Tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 2012, after which he had to interrupt his chess career again and seek medical treatment for his tumour. He died in a hospital in Germany on 11 January 2014. He was only 27 years old.

The Azerbajani Chess Federation and his former team-mates honour the memory of Vugar Gashimov. The Vugar Gashimov Chess Academy was opened in Azerbaijan in 2016.

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.