By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijan’s Chess Federation (ACF) has announced the 31st Women’s National Chess Championship, Azernews reports, citing the federation.
After Azerbaijan’s national anthem was played at the opening ceremony of the tournament, President Mahir Mammadov of the Azerbaijani Chess Federation and Vice-President of the International Chess Federation addressed the event.
Mahir Mammadov praised the achievements of the national women chess players in both the team and individual competitions, opining that the championship will be held in an interesting competitive environment.
A plan of preparations for the World Chess Olympiad, to be held in India this year, has been approved as well, he added.
Furthermore, the main judge of the tournament, Ilaha Gadimova, informed the players about the rules of the championship. Under the draw, in the first round of the Azerbaijani championship, Gulnar Mammadova will compete against Turkan Mammadyarova, Govhar Beydullayeva against Ayan Allahverdiyeva, Ulviya Fataliyeva will face Khayala Abdulla while Laman Hajiyeva will compete with Khanum Balajayeva.
For the first time in the history of independent Azerbaijan, the prize fund of the Women’s National Chess Championship has been increased to AZN11,400. A champion of the tournament will win a cash prize of AZN4,000.
Chess for centuries has been a popular game in Azerbaijan with ancient roots closely related to traditions. The country could preserve these traditions as chess remains to be a crucially popular sport for now.
The first references to chess in Azerbaijan can be found in the works of the XII century poets such as Khaqani and Nizami as well as in the works of one of the nation’s most respected literary personalities Fuzuli.
The 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku is an excellent example of the great attention paid to the development of chess games in the country. Nearly 2,000 chess players from 175 countries took part in the tournament.
The national chess players have always taken high places in top-ranked tournaments.
Shahriyar Mammadyarov is a three-fold European Team Champion (2009, 2013, and 2017) and gold medalist at the 2012 Chess Olympiad on the third board.
He won the World Junior Chess Championship in 2003 and repeated his victory in 2005, becoming the only two-time champion, achieving a 2,953 performance rating after eight rounds. Shahriyar has become popular after winning the Essent Tournament in 2006.
In June 2016, Mammadyarov won the 3rd Shamkir Chess Tournament, the Vugar Gashimov Memorial. He defeated Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri in the last two rounds, which put him in a tie-break situation with Caruana. He defeated Caruana in the tie-break, thus giving him tournament victory.
In 2021, Mammadyarov defeated the 13-time world champion Garry Kasparov at the Grand Chess Tour in Zagreb (Croatia).
Another Azerbaijani grandmaster Teymur Rajabov defeated Kasparov back in 2003. Teymur Rajabov earned the title of a grandmaster at the age of 14, making him the second-youngest grandmaster in history at the time.
In 2003, Rajabov gained international attention after beating the then world No 1 Garry Kasparov in the Linares tournament, followed by victories over former world champions Viswanathan Anand and Ruslan Ponomariov all in the same year.
He also won the European Team Chess Championship with Azerbaijan in 2009, 2013, and 2017. His major individual achievements include joint first place at the 2008 Elista Grand Prix, the 2017 Geneva Grand Prix, and the 2019 FIDE World Cup.
GM Eltaj Safarli won the Azerbaijan Championships in 2010 and 2016. Safarli played in the silver medal-winning Azerbaijani team at the European Team Chess Championship in Porto Carras in 2011 alongside Shahriyar Mammadyarov, Teymur Rajabov, Vugar Hashimov, and Qadir Huseynov, previously winning a bronze medal in 2007 and gold in 2009.
Despite his short life, Vugar Hashimov had made a remarkable contribution to the chess history of Azerbaijan. He played for Azerbaijan’s national team in the Chess Olympiads in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Hashimov won a bronze medal in the European Team Championship in 2007 and became the European Champion with the national team in 2009. He was the European vice-champion in the national team in 2011, and the winner of the Reggio Emilia tournament from 2010 to 2011 .
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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