ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
In January, the chess world heard the incredibly sad news that Vugar Gashimov had died after battling a long-term illness, at the age of just 27. The many tributes which followed confirmed to everyone that the chess world had lost someone truly special. Nigel Short described Gashimov as "a brilliant player and great guy". Magnus Carlsen described him as "one of the most talented & original players I've met. He was always friendly with everyone and always smiling."
Vugar Gashimov was one of the World's leading grandmasters. He played with a dynamic, attacking, joyful style. He was also the strongest grandmaster in the world who regularly dared to play the Benoni. Hikaru Nakamura described him as "a very creative and exciting player whose games (especially in the Benoni) will not be forgotten". There are already a number of his Benoni games on his website (a win against Predrag Nikolic is particularly striking), but I'd like to add my own tribute to him by including some more in this update.

Download PGN of February '14 Nimzo and Benoni games

>> Previous Update >>

Modern Benoni [A61-64]

Reinaldo Castineira-Gashimov, Sanxenxo 2007.

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 h3 Nbd7 11 Nd2 a6 12 a4 Rb8 13 Nc4 Ne5 14 Na3 c4!?

Gashimov was always willing to try out fresh ideas in the opening. In this game he forgoes the almost automatic 14...Nh5 in favour of a move which offers a pawn sacrifice. Reinaldo Castineira responds logically but is unable to solve all the problems that Gashimov poses.

Stupak - Gashimov, Warsaw 2010.

1 d4 Nf6 2 g3 c5 3 d5 e6 4 c4 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nc3 g6 7 Nf3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Nd2 a6 11 a4 Nbd7 12 h3 Rb8 13 Nc4 Ne5 14 Na3 Nh5:

Instead of the main line 15 e4, Stupak chooses the less critical 15 Kh2, preparing f4. Gashimov characteristically invites complications and later on shocks Stupak with an amazing queen-for-bishop sacrifice.

Rodshtein - Gashimov, Ohrid 2009.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Re8 10 Bf4 a6 11 a4 b6!?:

This game is another example of Gashimov avoiding the well-trodden paths; on this occasion 11...Ne4 and 11...Nh5. Later in the game Gashimov manages to coordinate his pieces perfectly before unleashing decisive tactical blows on his opponent.

Ikonnikov - Gashimov, Bundesliga 2010.

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 a6 7 a4 g6 8 h3 Qe7:

...Qe7 is a little wrinkle for Black in this move order. At the cost of committing the queen to e7, the e2-e4 advance is prevented for the moment at least. In this game Gashimov slowly but surely outplays his strong grandmaster opponent, accumulating more and more advantages until Ikonnikov can no longer resist.

Snake Benoni [A60]

Although the Modern Benoni was certainly Gashimov's first choice, he also played the Snake Benoni, especially in rapidplay and blitz games, but also under the classic time control, and he scored really well with it.

Sertic - Gashimov, Sibenik 2010.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 Bd6 6 Bg5 0-0 7 e4:

Believe it or not, there are actually some issues with e2-e4 in conjunction with Bg5 against the Snake, or at least with this particular move order. In fact Gashimov gains a decisive by move ten!

Oms Pallisse-Gashimov, Barcelona 2007

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 Bd6 6 Nc3 0-0 7 e4 Re8 8 Bd3:

White adopts the Modern Classical set-up, but against the Snake rather than the Modern Benoni. In a model game for the Snake Benoni, Gashimov shows exactly how Black should play this type of position.

Milov - Gashimov, Ourense 2009.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 Bd6 6 Nf3 0-0 7 Bg5:

7 Bg5 is the most popular way of meeting the Snake Benoni at present. Milov avoids what I feel is the most challenging option by White early on, involving d5-d6, and becomes the victim in another Benoni master class by Gashimov.

Tomezack - Gashimov, Saint Vincent 2005.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 Bd6 6 Nf3 0-0 7 g3:

7 g3 is another popular response to the Snake. My initial impression is that it's not quite as challenging as 7 Bg5. Gashimov's opponent didn't provide the strongest resistance, and this is definitely a Grandmaster vs. Amateur example. It shows what can happen in the Benoni when everything goes Black's way.

Till next time, John

>> Previous Update >>

Feel free to share your ideas and opinions on the Forum (the link above on the right), while subscribers with any questions can email me at