Person of day - 16 AUGUST 2023
Before the 1960 Soviet championship, it became known that Paul Keres would not be able to join the Soviet delegation in Cuba. Instead of Keres, a 23-year-old master from Baku called Vladimir Bagirov came after he won a semi-final that put him at the top of the list of Soviet substitutes. The debutant was considered an outsider, but he upstaged expectations and came fourth, after Korchnoi, Petrosian and Geller and in front of many notable grandmasters. In the tournament, he not only defeated Korchnoi, Spassky and Bronstein, but also fulfilled his first grandmaster norm and.
It soon transpired that the relatively unknown chess player possessed remarkable determination in defence; years later, Bagirov, just like his countryman Vladimir Makogonov, was called “The Fortress from Baku”. He also stood out for his precise calculation of positions and subtle endgame technique. In 1960, he came fourth at another tournament- at the Central Chess Club in Moscow, where he once again overtook Korchnoi. Bagirov was included in the Soviet national team, where he won the European team championship in 1961.
Vladimir Bagirov’s chess career began spectacularly, but it had its prolonged periods of failure. He got his second grandmaster norm only 17 years after his first one. He distinguished himself at the 1977 USSR championship, splitting 5th-7thplaces with Geller and Tal. And one year later, he finally won the title of grandmaster that he had deserved for so long.
Bagirov played in 9 Soviet championships- this fact alone is testimony to his quality. He also won international tournaments in Jakarta, Baku, Batumi, Moscow and Tbilisi. He also won the world students’ team championship for the USSR and the European Club Cup with Burevestnik. In 1990, Bagirov also became world champion among seniors- chess players who were older than 60.
Vladimir Bagoriv was a good trainer. He has worked with Lev Polugaevsky for nine years and after moving to Riga in 1979, he helped Mikhail Tal. Another player who made his start under him was Alexei Shirov, among other Latvian chess players. The Alekhine Defence owes its second resurrection to him.
Vladimir Bagirov died in July 2000 in Jyväskylä- a Finnish town. He was at a tournament, where he lost consciousness during a game. The doctors’ attempts to save his life were unsuccessful.