Mamedyarov's recent rise

by Macauley Peterson
1/19/2018 – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has been a regular feature of elite tournaments for a decade, and yet he seems to have recently made a breakthrough, winning almost everything in sight in 2017 and climbing the Elo list to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen. 2018 offers him a rare chance to actually challenge for the World Title, as perhaps his biggest success of the past year was qualifying for the Candidates tournament in March. We take a brief look at some of his 2017 highlights. | Photo: Alina l'Ami, Tata Steel Chess on Facebook

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In his prime at 32

MamedyarovShakhriyar Mamedyarov had the highest tournament performance rating of 2017, and started the year as world number three at 2804, his career high. His success through the first five rounds of Tata Steel Chess, coupled with Fabiano Caruana's slide now puts him at number two on the live list for the first time in his career.

Mamedyarov's 2017 was marked by success after success. Among individual victories he won the Gashimov Memorial supertournament for the second time, but his most consequential was being the highest scorer in the FIDE Grand Prix series and thereby qualifying for the Candidates 2018.

In team competition he was instrumental in the Russian Team Championship for Siberia-Sirius and also on the winning European Club Cup and European Team Championship squads with Globus and Azerbaijan.

Let's take a spin through a few of the key games:

Highlights from 2017

The Russian Team Championship was an 8-team single round-robin played in Sochi from May 1st to 10th. Mamedyarov's team of Siberia-Sirius were heavy favourites thanks to the precense of Kramnik, Giri, Nepomniachtchi, Grischuk and Andreikin all playing along side him.

Riazantsev vs Mamedyarov, Russian Team Championship

Annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky

The FIDE Grand Prix series required Mamedyarov to play in three of four events, and he did well in all of them. He came shared first in Sharjah, clear second in Moscow, and shared fourth in Geneva. That gave him a total of 340 points in the series, making him one of two qualifiers (the other being Alexander Grischuk who finished second in the series.)

Mamedyarov vs Adams, FIDE Grand Prix Moscow

Mamedyarov rejoined Twitter in August after a five year hiatus, perhaps spurred on by his teammate Teymour Radjabov who is one of the more active top GMs on the platform.

Azerbaijan edged out Russia in the European Team Championship in November, earning their third title, a result Mamedyarov was particularly proud of.

Grischuk vs Mamedyarov, European Team Championship

IM Lawrence Trent covered his game for ChessBase Videos (you can follow along in the gamve viewer below)


Shakhriyar was a bit of a strange pick for the annual tournament in Moscow which pits up and coming Russian players against a team of veteran guests. He's both higher rated and younger than the typical squad of "Kings", but he definitely showed no mercy against his young opponents.

Mamedyarov vs Daniil Yuffa, Christmas Nutcracker tournament

Yuffa just played 25…Kg7? and White won after 26.fxg6! fxg6 27.Rxg6+! Kxg6 28.Ne5+.

Mamedyarov also showed the young Andrey Esipenko a thing or two.

Esipenko vs Mamedyarov

15-year-old Andrey Esipenko vs. Mamedyarov | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Esipenko vs Mamedyarov, Christmas Nutcracker tournament

Annotated by GM Priyadharshan Kannappan

Mamedyarov has been a bit overshadowed by his peers, and finished fourth in our readers survey of "player of the year", but with just 6% of the vote. But perhaps 2018 will change that.

2017 player of the year

See also all the nominations

Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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