By Laman Ismayilova
The traditional Shamkir Chess tournament came back to Azerbaijan. The fifth edition of the tournament solemnly opened on April 18 at its usual venue in Shamkir region.
Addressing the event, the head of Shamkir Region Executive Power, Alimpasha Mammadov stressed that Shamkir Chess 2018 is organized by SOCAR. He thanked the Azerbaijani Chess Federation and SOCAR for supporting the tournament.
President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov expressed his satisfaction with the organization of the 5th Shamkir Chess.
“Azerbaijan is the only country that has adopted the State Program for the development of chess. The 42nd World Chess Olympiad, held two years ago in Baku, is considered to be the best organized chess tournament in the history of the world. The chess is beloved by many in Azerbaijan,” he said.
More than 60 million people worldwide are playing chess. Along with Baku, Shamkir is also known worldwide as a chess center, said FIDE President.
Later, participants watched the most interesting moments from the last Shamkir Chess tournaments.
Head of sports department of the Youth and Sports Ministry Farid Mansurov spoke about the successful career of well-known chess player Vugar Gashimov and his achievements. He highly appreciated the importance of this prestigious tournament dedicated to the memory of Azerbaijan’s late chess player.
Vice President of SOCAR Khalik Mammadov expressed his satisfaction with the company's support for the organization of this important tournament. He stressed that this super tournament devoted to the memory of Vugar Gashimov has made a significant contribution to the development of chess in Azerbaijan.
Gasim Gashimov, the father of the late chess player expressed gratitude to the organizers of the tournament dedicated to his son's memory.
“For the fifth year now, the tournament in memory of my son has been held. This indicates that Vugar was able to leave a trace in the history of chess in the world. For two years the Chess Academy of Vugar Gashimov has been operating, where hundreds of young Azerbaijanis are getting acquainted with the secrets of the chess world. For our family - this is a great pride," he said.
Stressing that the tournament contributed to the recognition of Shamkir in the world, including in the world of chess, Gashimov emphasized the support of the President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, during his son’s career.
After the opening speeches, chess players drew lots under the guidance of the chief judge of the tournament, Vice President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation, Faig Hasanov.
According to the results of the championship, two world chess players - the current world champion Magnus Carlsen (2843) and Shahriyar Mammadyarov (28140) faced in the first round of the tournament.
Both chess players were in the first round of this tournament in 2014.
Dutch Anish Giri, tenth in the world Elo-wise, China's Liren Ding, the only undefeated player in last month's Candidates Tournament, and the 2016 World Championship runner-up Sergey Karjakin of Russia is also joining the tournament.
Other players of the tournament are Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, for many the world-class player with more interesting style, Azerbaijani star Teymur Radjabov, who in 2003 defeated Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand and Ruslan Ponomariov with the black pieces, which made him the first player to have beaten three former and reigning World Chess Champions, with black, in the same year, the Czech David Navara, current world number 19th, and local Grandmaster Rauf Mammadov, 38th in the world, with 2708 Elo points.
The tournament will consist of nine rounds of Swiss system.
The tournament will be a 10-player round-robin with a time control of 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes extra plus 30 seconds per move increment for the rest of the game. A rapid playoff will take place in case of a tie for first place.
The fifth edition of the Shamkir Chess 2018 tournament will last until April 28.
Gashimov became an international master in 1999 and earned the top title of grandmaster in 2002.
The 19 year-old GM took first place at Acropolis 2005 with 6.5/9 and won the category 18 Reggio Emilia in 2010. The Tata Steel 2012 became the last tournament in his life.
After his early successes, Gashimov had to put his activities on hold for a while for a surgery. His disease re-surfaced in 2011, causing him to suddenly lose consciousness during a match against the French national team in the European Championship. Then a long-term treatment in Switzerland and Germany began, but he failed to beat the disease.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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