Shamkir Chess Officially Opened at Touching Ceremony | VIDEO

Shamkir Chess Officially Opened at Touching Ceremony | VIDEO

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

The Shamkir Chess 2014 tournament was officially opened on Saturday at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. A touching opening ceremony included a video about Vugar Gashimov, for whom this tournament is a memorial. The drawing of lots resulted in the following pairings for the first round on Sunday: Carlsen-Mamedyarov, Nakamura-Caruana, Karjakin-Radjabov (A group), Wojtaszek-Durarbayli, Eljanov-Mamedov, Motylev-Abasov, Safarli-Huseinov and Wang-Bacrot (B group).

Most of the participants of the Shamkir Chess 2014 tournament, known as the Gashimov Memorial, arrived in Baku on Thursday. The reason was a first event scheduled for Friday afternoon: a visit to the grave of Vugar Gashimov, who sadly passed away in January of this year at the age of 27. 

Vugar Gashimov's grave

Not even fully finished yet, the grave is a stunning, chess themed memory place created in mostly dark-red marble. The ground area has the squares of a chess board, behind the stone are chess pieces and on a big wall Gashimov's successes can be read. In between those is a huge diagram of the final position of the game Gashimov-Stellwagen, which decided the 2009 European Championship in Azerbaijan's favor.

Teimour Radjabov
Players and officials

Later on Friday the players, organizers and some journalists flew from Baku to Gyandzha, from where they travelled by bus to Shamkir, which is about 30km away from the airport. A special dinner was arranged in players' hotel, and everyone was welcomed by a representative of the sponsor, Synergy Group.

The players' hotel in Shamkir

On Saturday at 18.30 the opening ceremony started at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Shamkir. At arrival it became clear to everyone that the sponsor had been very generous: the huge hall was beautifully decorated both outside (with a big photo of Gashimov and the logo) and inside (with big chess pieces floating in the air, and large quantities of drinks and food including sushi, salads and warm meals).

The opening ceremony, which was attended by about 150 people, started with a one-minute of silence for Vugar. Well, it was announced like that, but it lasted about half a minute, when the host started talking again. After that a number of people gave speeches, including the mayor of Shamkir, the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport and the Vice President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation.

A touching moment followed when the father of Vugar appeared on stage. Starting with “dear good friends of Vugar, because that is what you are since you have come here”, he spoke proudly about how much his son had achieved in the short life he was given. There were hardly spectators who kept dry eyes.

He expressed his appreciation for the support he had received from the government and said: “he's not just my son, but the son of the motherland.” 

One of Vugar's friends and former coach, Viorel Iordachescu, also gave a personal and emotional speech. “My collaboration and friendship with Vugar was the happiest period of my life. With the loss of Vugar I lost a part of me.” Iordachescu also introduced special stamps to the audience.

The drawing of lots was a rather simple affair, performed by Chief Arbiter Faik Gasanov. First the players of the B group came on stage, and then the players of the A group. They  all had to choose a small trophy, and at the bottom they found their lot number. For the A group Magnus Carlsen appeared first on stage, and he picked number 1 which means he starts with two whites.

The ceremony finished with a dance performance, and after that there was a reception. Here's the official video of the ceremony which includes a tribute to Vugar Gashimov, starting after 36 minutes: spoke with a number of players, and their comments are part of the following video:

Shamkir Chess 2014 | A | Schedule & Pairings

Round 1 20.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 6 26.04.14 15:00 AZST
Carlsen - Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Carlsen
Nakamura - Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Karjakin - Radjabov   Radjabov - Karjakin
Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 AZST
Mamedyarov - Radjabov   Radjabov - Mamedyarov
Caruana - Karjakin   Karjakin - Caruana
Carlsen - Nakamura   Nakamura - Carlsen
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Nakamura - Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Nakamura
Karjakin - Carlsen   Carlsen - Karjakin
Radjabov - Caruana   Caruana - Radjabov
Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST
Karjakin - Mamedyarov   Caruana - Mamedyarov
Radjabov - Nakamura   Radjabov - Carlsen
Caruana - Carlsen   Karjakin - Nakamura
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 10 30.04.14 13:00 AZST
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Carlsen - Radjabov   Nakamura - Radjabov
Nakamura - Karjakin   Carlsen - Caruana

Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Schedule & Pairings

Round 1 20.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST
Wojtaszek - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Bacrot
Eljanov - Mamedov   Huseinov - Wang Hao
Motylev - Abasov   Abasov - Safarli
Safarli - Huseinov   Mamedov - Motylev
Wang Hao - Bacrot   Wojtaszek - Eljanov
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST
Eljanov - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Huseinov
Motylev - Wojtaszek   Abasov - Bacrot
Safarli - Mamedov   Mamedov - Wang Hao
Wang Hao - Abasov   Wojtaszek - Safarli
Bacrot - Huseinov   Eljanov - Motylev
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 CET   Round 6 26.04.14 15:00 AZST
Motylev - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Abasov
Safarli - Eljanov   Mamedov - Huseinov
Wang Hao - Wojtaszek   Wojtaszek - Bacrot
Bacrot - Mamedov   Eljanov - Wang Hao
Huseinov   Abasov   Motylev - Safarli
Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 CET   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Safarli - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Mamedov
Wang Hao - Motylev   Wojtaszek - Abasov
Bacrot - Eljanov   Eljanov - Huseinov
Huseinov - Wojtaszek   Motylev - Bacrot
Abasov - Mamedov   Safarli - Wang Hao
Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST        
Wang Hao - Durarbayli        
Bacrot - Safarli        
Huseinov - Motylev        
Abasov - Eljanov        
Mamedov - Wojtaszek        
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.

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