Shamkir Chess Officially Opened at Touching Ceremony | VIDEO
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.
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.
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.
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:
Chess.com 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|
|Round 2||21.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 7||27.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 3||22.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 8||28.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 4||23.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 9||29.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 5||24.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 10||30.04.14||13:00 AZST|
Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Schedule & Pairings
|Round 1||20.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 2||21.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 3||22.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 4||23.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 5||24.04.14||15:00 CET||Round 6||26.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 7||27.04.14||15:00 CET||Round 8||28.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 9||29.04.14||15:00 AZST|