Vugar Gashimov 'Lives Again' as Shamkir Memorial Chess 2014 begins with World's Top Chess Stars
The Shamkir Chess 2014 tournament was officially opened on Saturday at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. A touching opening ceremony included a short movie 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).
The opening ceremony, which was attended by about 150 people, started with a one-minute of silence for Vugar. A number of honorable guests paid due respect to Vugar's memory giving 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.”
Chairman of Supervisory Board at Synergy Group, Riyad Huseynov greeted all the participants. Emphasizing the importance of this tournament for whole chess community, Mr. Huseynov stated to be honored organizing Shamkir Chess 2014: "I assure all of you that the Organizing Committee of the tournament will do their best to make sure everything is on high level. I declare the tournament open. Let the strongest win."
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. (official website)
From Alexandra Kosteniuk's