28 May 2016

Take Care of Your Friends

Opening of the third Shamkir tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

One of the world's strongest super tournaments, the Vugar Gashimov Memorial, has been kicked off in the beautiful city Shamkir.  This festival of chess, which is about to take place for the third time with the support of the Synergy Group, is so well organized that it is worthy of being spoken about only in a cheerful strain. This is impossible, however, since such a premature departure from life of Vugar Gashimov, a talented chess player and a good man,  defies your comprehension and is a huge loss for everyone. Meanwhile, the number of tournaments held in memory of dearly departed young players tends to be on the increasing side. "There are not so many friends on earth: Beware of losing your friends," as Muslim Magomaev used to sing. 

The Vugar Gashimov Memorial has turned into a milestone event both inside and outside of Azerbaijan. The opening ceremony at the Heydar Aliyev Center, in which the tournament games will be played, was attended by the distinguished guests - FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov being among them. An overpoweringly charming Ljubomir Ljubojevic is also among those who arrived in Shamkir for the event.

Giving speeches at the opening ceremony were FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of Azerbaijan Azad Rahimov, Vice-president of the Chess Federation of Azerbaijan Mahir Mamedov, Vugar's father Hashim Gashimov, Executive Director of the Synergy Group Gudrat Seifullaev, Chief Executive of the Shamkir region Alimpasha Mamedov and Vice-President of the Chess Federation of Azerbaijan, the chief arbiter of the tournament Faiq Hasanov, who was also in charge of the drawing of lots procedure.

The organizers have also prepared a film based on footage from the past two tournaments. It goes without saying that most of the screen time was devoted to Magnus Carlsen, whereas the beginning of the press conference that followed the opening ceremony heard every journalist asking participants' opinions about the world champion's missing from the event and if they happened to be upset by it. It looks like they were not.

The official part of the ceremony was followed by an informal dinner at the Excelsior hotel in which the chess players are accommodated,  upon the end of which everyone was free to go about their own affairs.

Let me remind you that round one, which is scheduled to start at 14:00 Moscow time, will see the following pairings:

Rauf Mamedov - Anish Giri, Teimour Radjabov - Hou Yifan, Eltaj Safarli - Pavel Eljanov, Fabiano Caruana - Pentala Harikrishna, and Shahriyar Mamedyarov - Sergey Karjakin.