The Top Chess Players in the World

IM Nurgyul Salimova

Nurgyul Salimova
Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Full name
Nurgyul Salimova
Jun 2, 2003 (age 21)‎
Place of birth
Krepcha (Targovishte Province), Bulgaria



Nurgyul Salimova is a Bulgarian international master. She gained widespread recognition for receiving the silver medal in her country’s national chess championship in 2023 and was the only woman to compete in the open section. Although she had previously competed in the women’s section which she won in 2017, the 2023 tournament was her first venture into seeking gender equity in the national open.

In the 2023 Bulgarian Chess Championships, she ended half a point short of first place. Although she tied for second place with two others (both GMs), Salimova was awarded the silver medal because her tiebreak points were higher. In the tournament, she finished ahead of six GMs and lost only to the champion, the national legend GM Georgiev Kiril. The nine-round Swiss tournament was held January 21-28, 2023 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Salimova learned to play chess at the age of four. She initially gained the world’s attention in 2011 when she won the European Chess Championship for girls under eight. The next year she won the World Youth Chess Championship and the European Union Youth Chess Championship, both for girls under 12.

In 2017, she won the Bulgarian Women’s Chess Championship and was invited the next year to play in Group C of Tata Steel. In 2018, when her rating climbed to 2352, she became number two among Bulgarian women and number two in the under-16 girls world rankings. Also in 2018, she won the Bulgarian Blitz Championship in the boys’ section under 16.

In 2019, she became a woman grandmaster at the age of 15 years 10 months. Less than three months later, she was awarded the international master title. In January 2022, she earned her first GM norm at Vergani Cup (January edition) where she scored 7/9, tied for first with three grandmasters, and defeated three grandmasters, including former world championship challenger GM Nigel Short.

In 2021, Salimova participated in the Polgar Challenge, an elite online chess tour designed to support rising young players and advance gender equity in chess. She was one of 10 girls who joined 10 boys as members of gender-balanced teams.

Salimova was runner-up in the 2023 Women's World Cup, thus qualifying for the 2024 Women's Candidates Tournament, one step away from playing a world championship match. Salimova only finished in seventh place, but is young enough and good enough to threaten for the championship in the future.

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