The chess world loses Vugar Gashimov

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By Vestnik Kavkaza

On Saturday, Vugar Gashimov, one of the best chess players in the world, died in Germany. He was 27. He had been ill for several years, but Gashimov’s friends still cannot believe in his death. The whole world knew him.

The New York Times called Gashimov “one of the world’s top players for a decade” and reported about his role in Azerbaijan’s victory in 2009. “Azerbaijan has a rich chess pedigree. Both Garry Kasparov, the former world champion who is considered among the greatest players of all time, and Teimour Radjabov, were born and raised in Baku. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is the reigning world champion in rapid chess and is ranked No. 12, is also from Azerbaijan,” The New York Times reported. It stated that Vugar won the silver medal in the under-10-years-old division at the World Youth Championships in Minorca, Spain, in 1996, became an international master in 1999 and earned the top title of grandmaster in 2002.

The whole chess world was shocked by Vugar’s death. “Azerbaijani players told me Vugar had serious problems with his health, but nevertheless, when a young man with such an outstanding chess talent dies, it is painful,” Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronyan said.


Captain of the Azerbaijani team Fikret Sideifzade told Vestnik Kavkaza that the Azerbaijani team became winner of the European Championship three times, and in all these cases Vugar Gashimov participated in the national team, while the first victory of the Azerbaijani team at the European Team Championship in 2009 is associated with his name. "Only victory over the Netherlands put our team in the final round, but three of the four games ended in a draw. Gashimov had been virtually tied in an endgame against the Dutch grandmaster, but Vugar managed to turn the situation into a winning position and brought the gold medal to the team. It was then received by resident Ilham Aliyev with a reward for great success," he says. "He made an enormous contribution to the debut theory, and he was very much engaged with debut. He came first in many international tournaments, he took first place, especially memorable for me is the tournament in Reggio Emilia, where the leading players in the world participated," the former coach of Gashimov said. “He had a huge success, but, unfortunately, the disease had been progressing for 10 years. Naturally, everyone thought that it would be cured, as his was still a young body, but , unfortunately, in the last three years he virtually retired from chess. It is a great sorrow for us and for the world chess in general. He is gone too soon - and how many hopes, how many successes could he have had ahead" Fikret Sideifzade stated.

A member of the team, Gadir Guseinov,told Vestnik Kavkaza that "Vugar was certainly the soul of Azerbaijani team. He was a very cheerful person. He lifted us even when we were losing. Besides, he shared his knowledge and really helped to develop. And he shared it with pleasure, and many times helped me personally in preparation for games; he did everything for the team," Huseynov said, adding that Gashimov held free sessions and master classes for children.

"In 2011 at the European Championships in Greece, when Vugar first felt ill in the match against France, the captain did not want to allow him on the ensuing tours. But the next rounds had very difficult matches, including those against very strong teams, and Vugar said that his participation in the tournament was not even to be discussed. He loved his team and homeland so much that he insisted on playing to the end. The next day Azerbaijan beat the Russian team, which was the strongest at the tournament, and in subsequent rounds Vugar brought a lot of points and Azerbaijan took silver. This man did everything for the team, for the country, he loved his work, he was very fond of chess, very much engaged, and could not live without this.”