2014 Chess In Memoriam

2014 Chess In Memoriam

Jan 2, 2015, 4:14 PM |

2014 is over, and we saw a lot happening in the world of chess during the year... an impressive run from Fabiano Caruana to reach the top two spot after an incredible performance at the Sinquefield Cup; the getting back in top notch form for Anand, getting closer and closer to overcome 2800; Topalov reaching that plateau again... and of course, the continued dominance of Magnus Carlsen as the best player in the world.

If we were to list the things that happened in 2014 we´d take long long time in here... Judith Polgar calling it quits, Hou Yifan´s ascent, Kramnik out of top ten, the rise of the younge Super GMs (MVL, So, Giri... Rapport only has 18!), A double blunder in the World Championship match, and tons more stuff...

But what I want to do in this article is to honor those chess players who left us in 2014 and now are playing chess in maybe another dimension.

Hollywood does this every Academy Awards ceremony and calls it #InMemoriam, I did one with the music stars that left us for my site, you can see the homage to Joe Cocker, Jack Bruce, Johnny Winter and many more over there.

Vugar Gashimov died last January 11th, with only 27 years of age and a bonafide Super GM who peaked in 2009 at 2761 and being number 6 in the world.

Last year he was honored with the Gashimov Memorial Tournament, in what was one of the biggest tournaments in 2014, and later a monument was unveiled in Baku in his honor.

Here a great win from Gashimov against the likes of Alexander Grischuk. (I won´t add commentary as I wouldn´t be adding much of value).

Still on January, the 24th, the former US Junior Champion and 16-time Minnesota State Champion Curt Brasket passed away.

Even though a FIDE Master, we can find games of him defeating Grandmasters. Such is the case for the following game where Brasket defeated with the black pieces the well-known GM Larry Evans.

The following day, in January 25th, it was Hungarian Grandmaster Gyula Sax that left us. He was a top GM in the late eighties when he was ranked 12th in the world and went through two candidates cycles, being eliminated by Nigel Short and Viktor Korchnoi.

Judth Polgar had great words to say about him: "Gyula Sax was one of the greatest chess players of Hungary. He was the first GM who treated me as a fellow chess player when I was only 9 years old. He was ready to analyze positions with me, and shared ideas and by doing so he gave me a lot of self-confidence."

The game I selected to honor him is a victory with black pieces against former World Champion Vasily Smyslov in a King´s Indian.

In April, on the 23rd, it was Władyslawa Górska who left us. She was a Polish WIM who won the Polish Women´s Championship. The only game from her I found on my database is a loss; so I´ll pass on pasting one here. If you folks have one of her games, please post it in the comments.

On May 10th, another talented lady left us. Estonian Woman Fide Master Mari Kinsigo passed away.

Here, a win from 1974 in the USSR women´s championship.

On May 12th it was Ludovit Lehen, a Slovakian Fide Master and chess problems composer who passed away.

A few days later, on May 22nd, it was another well-known Grandmaster: Dragoljub Velimirović from Serbia. He won three times the Yugoslavian Chess Championship in the seventies. In the Sicilian Defense, there a line named after him, the Velimirovic attack. Here an example in a 24 moves game he won in the sixties.

On June 15th, Andrei Kharlov a solid Russian Grandmaster died in his mid forties. Here a game from 2005 at Aeroflot Open where he defeated Vassily Ivanchuk with the white pieces.

On August 17th, Dragoljub Čirić a Serbian Grandmaster passed away.

He won many interesting tournaments, including Sarajevo in 1966 tying for first with Tal, and in 1968 in the same tournament tying with Lein.

Here a game he won against Paul Keres.

The following day, On August 18th, Hungarian Grandmaster Levente Lengyel passed away. He played for Hungary in many Olympics teams, and was a strong player who won many torunaments in Hungary, including tying for first in the Hungarian Championship in 1962.

Here a game where he defeated Portisch.

On September 6th, Kira Zvorykina died. She was a three times Soviet Female Champion. A Woman Grandmaster and challenger for the Women´s World Championship she is one of the most respected female players from the fifties and sixties.

Finally, on December 8th, Latvian player Elmārs Zemgalis passed away. He was often referred to as a Grandmaster without the title, and he was awarded the honorary Grandmaster title in 2003.

He won twice the Washington State Championship, in 1953 and 1959, both times with perfect scores, making the only two times that such a feat has been accomplished in that tournament.

Here, a game from Oldenburg 1949 in which he defeated Saemisch.

I wanted to honor those past greats that left us in 2014, and I hope I accomplished it with this article. I´ll wait for your comments below, and please, if you find notable games to add, or a player I missed, please also add to it.

To all these chess greats, may they rest in peace.

Guillermo Paz