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Obituary (1986-2014)

Vugar Gashimov 1986-2014

Vugar Gashimov at the Amber tournament of 2011. Photo © Fred Lucas.

Vugar Gashimov at the Amber tournament of 2011. Photo © Fred Lucas. |

Vugar Gashimov was born July 24th 1986 in Baku, Azerbaijan and died in a clinic in Heidelberg, Germany 10th January 2014 at the tragically early age of 27. (Notice in News Day Azerbaijan)

The chess community was in mourning for Vugar Gashimov a hugely talented and well liked player. Gashimov became an IM in 1999 and a GM in 2002. Gashimov peaked at number 6 in the world in November 2009 and still had a rating sufficient to be in the top 20. Sadly his life was punctuated with severe health problems. In 2000 he was first diagnosed with epilepsy and a brain tumor but recovered somewhat to achieve great things at the board before these problems returned at the start of 2012. His final appearances turned out to be in the Tata Steel tournament and the Bundesliga straight after at the start of 2012.

It is always hard to sum up what one feels after such as loss of talent so young but in his case it just seems so very, very unfair.

Vugar Gashimov 1986-2014

Vugar Gashimov was born 24th July 1986 in Baku, Azerbaijan. He was tought chess by his father at the age of six. He quickly showed his talent representing Azerbaijan at the European Youth Championships in various age groups 1996-2000 winning four silver medals.

In such a short career there were just a few tournament victories with wins in 2008 in the Cappelle la Grande tournament and a tie for first in his home FIDE Grand Prix in Baku alongside Wang Yue and Magnus Carlsen. He also won the Reggio Emilia tournament of 2010–11 on tie-break from Francisco Vallejo Pons.

Gashimov played in four Olympiads for Azerbaijan in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and in 2009 he played in the gold medal-winning Azerbaijani team at the European Team Chess Championship in Novi Sad alongside Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Rauf Mammadov and Gadir Guseinov. Team captain Zurab Azmaiparashvili remembered that it was Gashimov who scored the decisive point against the Dutch team to secure the medal. He was also a member of the Azerbaijani team that 7-9 May 2009 that played against a world team in Baku in the President's Cup. A disagreement between Azmaiparashvili and Gashimov over his unwillingness to play certain matches, perhaps even connected with his health problems led to him not playing for Azerbaijan in the 2010 Olympiad although after Azmaiparashvili's departure he played in the European and World Team Championship for his country in 2011. The ChessBase Obituary has a number of links to stories on his career.

For a player who was solid top 20 peaking in the top 10 there were necessarily many good results short of wins for instance he reached the quarter finals of the FIDE World Cup in 2009 and 2011. His final games were in the German Bundesliga a win against Parimarjan Negi and a last draw with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who said on twitter:

MVL @Vachier_Lagrave Today is a sad day for the chess world, and world in general. RIP Vugar Gashimov

It is perhaps in his games that Gashimov will be most remembered. He had a very enterprising and energetic style.

In a very personal and fine tribute to Gashimov Peter Doggers summed up his approach:

Vugar was highly talented and had an attractive, dynamic style. I also remember that he once explained to me why he was one of the few top players who dared to play the Benoni as Black, and got away with it. "The computer assesses many standard positions at 0.30 or even 0.40 and so may white players will overestimate their chances. Computers don't see the compensation, but I do!"

It is no coincidence that players brought to mind his treatment of the Modern Benoni where he had a number of fine wins.


There was a minute silence at the start of the 76th Tata Steel tournament which was Gashimov's final tournament two years before.

Levon Aronian following his game at Wijk aan Zee

Very sad news. I knew from the players from Azerbaijan that he was in a very difficult health situation but of course when somebody passes away at such an age and such a talented player it's always a very, very... I feel very, very sad. Aronian.

Malcolm Pein @TelegraphChess

Sad news of Vugar Gashimov's passing, a brilliant player who brought the Modern Benoni back to life and many great games in the Ruy Lopez. Gashimov reached 2761. 3 of my favourite games VG-PH Nielsen 2011 and VG-Ivanchuk 2010 and VG-Gelfand 1-0 in 16 in 2009

Hikaru Nakamura @GMHikaru RIP Vugar Gashimov. A very creative and exciting player whose games (especially in the Benoni) will not be forgotten.

Teymur Rajabov @rajachess

RIP Vugar Gashimov, Very very very SAD NEWS, HORRIBLE, we knew he was very ill, but hoped he can survive this fight :(((((((((((((

Our compatriot and friend Vugar Gashimov, age 27 has passed away, no words to explain the deepest sorrow of us and chess community worldwide Vugar was a very strong, very talented person, extremely talented chess player, his Benoni opening was very powerful always.

Magnus Carlsen on Twitter

Very sad to hear about the passing of Vugar Gashimov, one of the most talented & original players I've met. Always friendly with everyone. Gashimov was friendly with everyone & always smiled. I have many good memories from chess tournaments, especially Amber.

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