Person of day   -  12 APRIL 2024



Shakhriyar Hamid oglu Mamedyarov was born into a chess family. His sisters, Zeinab and Turkan, also became grandmasters and joined the Azerbaijani team. Shakhriyar was taught to play chess in the summer of 1993 by his father, Hamid Mamedjarov, a master of sports in boxing and a fan of chess. That same year, “Shakh” began to attend a chess school in Sumgait, where Valida Bairamova became his first coach. 

Shakhriyar did not achieve any major success in juniors’ chess- the hero from Sumgait was constantly surpassed by younger Azerbaijani stars like Vugar Gashimov and Teimour Radjabov. His breakthrough came in 2003: Shakh consecutively won world U18 and U20 championships, as well as prestigious tournaments in Dubai, Lausanne, San Sebastian, which led to a rise of his rating to the 2700 mark. 

In 2005, Shakriyar Mamedyarov set a new record when he surpassed everyone at the juniors’ world championship for a second time- a feat that has not been achieved in chess history heretofore. The Azerbaijani grandmaster’s rise continued and Shakhriyar constantly delighted his supporters with spectacular attacks on an opponents’ king and mind-blowing combinations.  

In 2006, Mamedyarov won the famous Aeroflot Open in Moscow, thus winning an invitation to the super-tournament in Dortmund, after which he cemented his place in the world chess elite. Since his junior years, the Azerbaijani was rightly considered a wonderful team player; two victories at European championships with Azerbaijan and two victories at European Club Cups with SOCAR super club testify to this. Each time, Shakhriyar made an immense contribution to his team’s victory. 

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played in the 2011 FIDE Grand Prix series, but only qualified for the candidates’ matches as the organizers’ nominee. In the quarter-final, the Azerbaijani played against future tournament winner Boris Gelfand and he could not resist the triumphant winner of the tournament in Kazan. Mamedyarov’s subsequent career has been shaped by celebrated grandmaster and theoretician Alexander Khalifman-the FIDE world champion in 1999- who has been training the Azerbaijani team and Shakhriyar personally for some years. 

Misfortune did not break the talented chess player; Mamedyarov won the rapid world championship in 2013 and performed spectacularly at the 2012-2013 FIDE Grand Prix, thus qualifying for the 2014 candidates’ tournaments. At that moment, Shakh’s rating reached a record 2775- the fourth highest in the world. In Khanty-Mansiysk, Shakhriyar had a difficult time- he lost his first two games, but, demonstrating a strong will and burning determination, Khalifman’s mentee split 3rd-5thplaces with Vladimir Kramnik and Dmitry Andreikin. 

In 2014, Mamedyarov won the Tal Memorial, which was being played as a blitz tournament. In 2016 and 2017, he won the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir. At the 2018 Candidates Tournament in Berlin, he came second. 

“You can never rest on your laurels, you must always advance forward. I have no intention of stopping. Blitz is more like a lottery, there is no guaranteed result there. So I am relaxed about my results in five-minute games and in rapid. Classical chess is far more important.

Above all, I need a realistic chance of fighting for the world crown. That is the most important aim in a chess player’s career. No tournament victory can stand beside this. I hope that I have sufficient room to develop, otherwise it will be difficult to play at this level. I have always dreamed of becoming the best in the world from childhood. And I have not lost that hope!” (S. Mamedyarov)