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Safarli Celebrates Birthday With Tournament Victory

Safarli Celebrates Birthday With Tournament Victory

PeterDoggers
| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

Winning a tournament isn't such a bad way to celebrate your birthday. On the day Eltaj Safarli turned 24, he won the Nakhchivan Open on better tiebreak after sharing first with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Not everyone has good memories about playing on a birthday. In 2003, the ex-FIDE-world champion Ruslan Ponomariov famously became the first high-profile player to forfeit a game because of his mobile phone ringing during play when someone wanted to congratulate him.

It's a good story, but the Azerbaijani grandmaster Eltaj Safarli did much better: he won a tournament on his 24th birthday.

The Nakhchivan Open was held May 10-18 at the Nakhchivan Chess Center in Nakhchivan, a city 450 km (280 mi) west of Azerbaijan's capital Baku. The tournament was organized by the Azerbaijan Youth & Sport Ministry, the Azerbaijan Chess Federation and the Nakhchivan Chess Federation.

It was a rather small affair with just 48 players but still there were 13 GMs and 3 IMs. The favorites were Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2748), Eltaj Safarli (AZE, 2664), Evgeny Alekseev (RUS, 2633), Yuriy Kuzubov (UKR, 2632), Sergei Tiviakov (NED, 2591), and Igor Khenkin (GER, 2575).

Safarli, the reigning Azeri champion, was the only player on 6.5/8. Top-seed Mamedyarov had started with two wins but then played four draws in a row, so he needed a strong finish.

He did so, won the last three rounds and caught Safarli in first place, but the latter had a better tiebreak. Last year Safarli won the tournament on tiebreak as well. Back then another compatriot shared first with him: Gadir Guseinov.

Safarli's game in the second round was a fun one. From start to finish he dominated, throwing in tactics here and there, but analysis shows that it wasn't always correct:

In round five Safarli and Mamedyarov met. A sharp Grünfeld suddenly ended in a draw.

Safarli's powerful game from the penultimate round should definitely be included. The 11.c4 system against the Breyer isn't the most popular but here it makes a very good impression.

In the last round Safarli drew with Tiviakov, which gave Mamedyarov the chance to catch him. The world #18 scored a very convincing win with the white pieces:

2016 Nakchivan Open | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB4 Rp rtg+/-
1 2 GM Safarli E AZE 2664 7 2519 5 49 2739 9,3
2 1 GM Mamedyarov S AZE 2748 7 2493 5 50,5 2715 -1,9
3 4 GM Kuzubov Y UKR 2632 6,5 2467 4 47,5 2633 0
4 9 GM Mirzoev A AZE 2510 6 2485 4 50,5 2610 12,9
5 3 GM Alekseev E RUS 2633 6 2425 4 48 2550 -7,4
6 5 GM Tiviakov S NED 2591 6 2415 3 45,5 2540 -3,1
7 19 FM Bashirli N AZE 2384 6 2390 5 41 2515 29,8
8 13 IM Pavlov S UKR 2452 6 2384 4 44 2483 0
9 6 GM Khenkin I GER 2575 5,5 2391 2 43,5 2471 -9,5
10 8 GM Burmakin V RUS 2558 5,5 2364 4 39,5 2444 -11,4
11 7 GM Abasov N AZE 2571 5,5 2338 4 44,5 2418 -15,3
12 27 WGM Mammadzada G AZE 2318 5 2442 3 43 2485 37,4
13 14 Beradze I GEO 2425 5 2431 3 44,5 2474 5,2
14 17 FM Asadli V AZE 2397 5 2416 3 43,5 2459 13,6
15 15 IM Iskandarov M AZE 2419 5 2414 5 44,5 2457 3,7
16 31 WFM Hojjatova A AZE 2300 5 2383 3 41,5 2426 28,2
17 11 GM Rasulov V AZE 2486 5 2382 4 45,5 2425 -6,8
18 36 WGM Mamedjarova T AZE 2257 5 2373 4 39 2416 36,4
19 25 FM Hasanzade T AZE 2326 5 2350 3 40,5 2391 12,4
20 22 Pirverdiyev A AZE 2355 5 2326 3 41,5 2405 10,6

(Full final standings here.)

PeterDoggers
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!


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