Shamkir Chess starts tomorrow

by Alejandro Ramirez
4/16/2015 – Top level chess is about to be difficult to follow: three major tournaments start within the next few days! Tomorrow the closed tournament in Shamkir will start. Headlined by Carlsen, Caruana, So, Kramnik, Anand, Giri, MVL, Adams plus two of the top Azerbaijani players, it promises to be one of the best events of the year, and of course, we bring you World-class live commentary.

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The Vugar Gashimov Memorial is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the 17th to the 26th of April, in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament consists of some of the strongest players in the World: reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen, former World Champions Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, as well as Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Michael Adams, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov will compete in this prominent event. 


Name Fed Rating
Magnus Carlsen NOR 2863
Caruana, Fabiano ITA 2802
Anand, Viswanathan IND 2791
Giri, Anish NED 2790
So, Wesley USA 2788
Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2783
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime FRA 2762
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 2754
Adams, Michael ENG 2746
Mamedov, Rauf AZE 2651

The Shamkir Super-Tournament, in memory of Vugar Gashimov, is one of the strongest tournaments of the year. Despite some last minute substitutions the tournament still remains extremely strong. Teimour Radjabov, one of Azerbaijan's strongest players, had to be substituted for health reasons; Michael Adams from England will be playing in his stead.

There is one player that is about 100 points lower rated than everyone else, and that is Rauf Mamedov. He earned his spot by being the reigning Azerbaijani Champion, a title he won in an open tournament held a couple of months ago. He scored -1 in last year's Shamkir Group B, so he will definitely have to show that he has improved.


Shamkir (also Anino, Annenfel’d, Annino, Shamkir and Shamkhor) - the 8th largest city in Azerbaijan and the center of the Shamkir district is situated in the northern foothills of the Lesser Caucasus, on the coast of the Chagirchay River on Tbilisi-Yevlakh highway.

It is considered that Shamkir city was founded in the 5th century. In regard to the etymology of the name the Wikipedia entry on Shamkir refers to Azerbaijani historian Jahangir Zeynaloglu, who claims that "the name derives from Persian 'shams' (meaning "sun") and 'kur' ("relaying"), implying that the city was relying on the sun".

The Heydar Aliyev Center (Shamkir branch, there is another one in Baku) which is the playing hall

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony lasted about an hour, and more than half of it was speeches from important political figures in Chess.

A full auditorium for the opening

He is everywhere: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

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

The most important part of the ceremony was the drawing of lots. Carlsen got number seven.

Giri with his number nine

The press conference was also rather short, asking the players mostly how they were handling their trip to distant Shamkir (Anand has been there for a couple of days already, mostly resting).

First Round Pairings

SNo. Name Rtg
Name Rtg
1 Kramnik Vladimir 2783
Adams Michael 2746
2 So Wesley 2788
Giri Anish 2790
3 Mamedov Rauf 2651
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2762
4 Anand Viswanathan 2791
Carlsen Magnus 2863
5 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2754
Caruana Fabiano 2802

The first round and commentary begins at 12.00 CEST

Commentary on Playchess

One of the major tournaments of the year, you can count on to deliver quality commentary every round!

Day Date Round English German
Friday April 17 Round 1 GM Daniel King GMs Oliver Reeh/Dorian Rogozenco
Saturday April 18 Round 2 GM Simon Williams GM Klaus Bischoff
Sunday April 19 Round 3 GM Simon Williams GM Klaus Bischoff
Monday April 20 Round 4 GM Daniel King GM Klaus Bischoff
Tuesday April 21 Round 5 GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov GM Klaus Bischoff
Wednesday April 22 Free    
Thursday April 23 Round 6 GM Daniel King GM Klaus Bischoff
Friday April 24 Round 7 GM Simon Williams GM Klaus Bischoff
Saturday April 25 Round 8 GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov GMs Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
Sunday April 26 Round 9 GM Simon Williams GM Klaus Bischoff

English Commentators


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 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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