Reports | December 26, 2011 20:12

Gashimov gets replaced in Reggio Emilia, plays in San Sebastian

Gashimov gets replaced in Reggio Emilia, plays in San Sebastian

In a strange turn of events, Vugar Gashimov, without his knowledge, was replaced by Alexander Morozevich at the 54th Torneo di Capodanno. The tournament, which starts tomorrow in Reggio Emilia, also has Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Vitiguov, Caruana and Giri playing.

Gashimov will be playing in another strong tournament which starts on Wednesday in San Sebastian - there his strongest rivals will be Mamedyarov, Ponomariov, Moiseenko, Bacrot, Naiditsch, Dominguez and Vachier-Lagrave.

Reggio Emilia

Christmas is barely over but the chess fans can already enjoy two strong chess tournaments in the coming days. Tuesday at 15:00 CET the first round of the 54th Torneo di Capodanno start in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The tournament has a long tradition (in its best days Kasparov and Karpov played) and now it seems to be getting stronger and stronger every year again.

This edition is a 6-player double round robin, from December 27th till January 6th, with Vassily Ivanchuk, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Morozevich, Nikita Vitiguov, Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri.

San Sebastian

On Wednesday another strong tournament starts in San Sebastian, Spain. It takes place December 28th - January 5th and has Vugar Gashimov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Moiseenko, Etienne Bacrot, Arkadij Naiditsch, Leinier Dominguez and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave as its strongest participants.

This tournament, which we mentioned here before, celebrates two of the earliest super tournaments, as we know them today, which took place in the former casino of Donostia-San Sebastian in 1911 & 1912 and had a certain rookie called José Raul Capablanca as its first winner.

Vugar Gashimov

Until recently, the name of Vugar Gashimov could be found on the participants list of Reggio Emilia instead of San Sebastian. As was reported last week by WhyChess, Gashimov won't be defending his title in Reggio, since Alexander Morozevich has replaced him. We spoke to Vugar's manager (and brother), who told us the following.

There was an agreement that the organizers would send an invitation to Vugar's family, a letter which we needed for the visa of his parents. This way he could spend his holidays in Italy with them. The organizers promised several time to do it.

Sarkhan Gashimov emphasized that they would take care of the expenses for the parents themselves. They needed the invitation letter to arrange the visas. At some point,

I reminded them again about our agreement and that Vugar didn't want to come without his parents.

The story got even stranger when Vugar Gashimov heard that he wasn't going to play in Reggio Emilia, from... Vassily Ivanchuk. The two were talking to each other on December 17th at Beijing Airport, after the World Mind Games where they both had played.

Ivanchuk told him that he and the other participants had received an email from the organizers that said that Vugar was replaced by Morozevich. The email was not sent to us,

Sarkhan Gashimov told us.

Well, the good news is that everything is fine with Vugar (some might have feared more health issues) and in fact he found a good alternative in San Sebastian. There, the organizers managed to find some extra funds to be able to have Gashimov. Now that he's playing, he also took over the role as top seed from his compatriot Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Update: It was too late to arrange a visa to Spain for Gashimov's parents. We are still trying to reach the Reggio Emilia organizers, to ask for their side of the story.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Ashish's picture

Did his parents get the visa for Spain?

Sarkhan's picture

unfortunately, both countries Italy and Spain - visa countries for Azerbaijan, we should apply for schengen visas and we had all preparations/turn only at italian embassy. During the Holidays it's impossible to get visa in 1 week and you should ask for turn 1 month before, not in last day. But having such case I have cancelled my holiday plans and will join to my brother, not to leave him alone in his holidays. Taking this chance I would like to thank you the organizers of SS, they were very kind and we agreed everything in 1 day (!), even it was very late to invite anyone.

Best regards,
Sarkhan Hashimov

David Llada's picture

Thank you Sharkhan for your kind words. I am very happy about the unexpected chance of bringing Vugar to play in San Sebastian. And I only wish I could have offered you better conditions, but as you very kindly understood, we were a bit short of time :-)

Looking forward to welcome you in San Sebastian,

Tarjei's picture

Chessvibes: Did you try to get any comments from the organizers in Reggio Emilia?

Peter Doggers's picture

I'm still trying to reach the Reggio Emilia organizers. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be an email address or phone number on the tournament committee page of the official website.

David Kaufmann's picture

Good morning Mr. Peter,

I think I have found the contact page of the organizers. I hope it is correct. There is a contact form and some emails. Have a nice day and thank your for your excellent news.

columbo's picture

He should visit Valencia !

Sarkhan's picture

Actually, he likes Valencia very much and supporting Valencia CF in La Liga, but for this time we can't. Anyway I do believe, that once we will come there for sure.

columbo's picture

Awsome !!!Ring my bell then :)

classic's picture

As you should suspect, there is something more to this story..

archimedes's picture

It appears to be quite simple from the above. The organizers saw they could replace Gashimov, with another very strong and exciting player, and avoid the expenses of bringing his family, without losing attendance.

Of course they had already agreed to those expenses, and have now compromised their integrity.

I will be surprised if there is an "official" explanation.

noyb's picture

I think you missed "Sarkhan Gashimov emphasized that they would take care of the expenses for the parents themselves. They needed the invitation letter to arrange the visas."

The organizers therefore were not "saving money" since Vugar's family was going to pay his parents expenses. Sounds more like a simple miscommunication caused by lack of communication.

"What we got here is 'failure to communicate'." - Cool Hand Luke (movie; boy do I miss good 'ol Strother Martin!)

MvO's picture

makes me think about: Civil war - Guns n Roses :-) which contains exactly that line!! (Didn't know about the movie though...)

Sure am curious to the explanation of the organisers...

Septimus's picture

The song is Civil Wars (What we have got here is a failure to communicate...). Good old high school days. :)

S3's picture

You went to high school?

Luiz da Silveira's picture

The way the sentence is written is ambiguous. Even with all the emphasis from the player, "They" could refer either to the Gashimovs or to the organizers. It would be nice if the person who wrote the information could clear the doubt. Thank you.

hcl's picture

Presumably the Reggio organizers interpreted the counter-offer as a refusal. It's a pain-in-the-butt when players attach conditions as though the organizer can guarantee visas, etc. Tournament organizers are usually small fry working on a tight budget.

hcl's picture

What happens appears rather clear.

I reminded them again about our agreement and that Vugar didn't want to come without his parents.

The above was correctly interpreted by the Reggio organizers as a counter-offer - legally, it constitutes a refusal of the original offer. Notice his brother did not state that they replied in the positive. No contract was made, in other words.

It's a pain-in-the-butt when players attach conditions as though they're bigshots, as organizer can guarantee visas, etc. Tournament organizers are usually small fry working on a tight budget.

Probably they concluded that Gashimov was not worth the trouble.

Septimus's picture

No tournament organizer has the power to command the foreign office or those who handle Visas. Those <> are a law unto themselves.

mid to the k's picture

He has multiple appearance at or near the top of the tournament leader board their. A shame that he won't be returning - although it sounds like he found a good alternative. Also, why not a simple email to him or his manager saying something like "we want you back but we cannot pay for family members, arrange visas etc." That way it is at least communicated in a professional manner.

Anonymous's picture

1-0 for the organizers. Morozevich is a top attraction.

Septimus's picture

Certainly 1-0 to you for a retarded comment.

columbo's picture

Gashimov too sir ! watch his games before talking non sense, it is a privilege to have such a fantastic player, i'll go to San sebastien for sure

Septimus's picture

Unfortunately, paperwork and bureaucracy can be extremely painful. Very unfortunate that Vugar was summarily replaced. Reggio Emilia is a standard fixture in the chess calender, I wonder what went wrong here? Before jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon, I think this could simply be a case of language barriers playing a role. However, it is very strange that Vugar Gashimov's team did not get any notification about the changes!

Good luck to Vugar in San Sebastian. Have a relaxed holiday everybody!

hcl's picture

I have to admit Moro is far preferable to Gashimov, IMO. Gashimov is not a fan-favorite or particularly likeable, frankly. The organizers do not *have to* invite him just because he is defending champion.

fen's picture

Isn't it preferable though to have the current champion defend? Or is that not important to most chess fans? I'm kind of curious as to what people think because there doesn't seem to be any consistency to chess tournaments; it all seems so random compared to following other sports.

Janis Nisii's picture

Yes, it's definitely a plus to have the defending champion in a tournament, exactly for what you're saying: it's a tradition in sports for reasons that one might think are self-evident, only to learn that there are people who don't see them! :)

hcl's picture

Reggio is not a major tournament, or at least not recently and not last year. No one really cares who the defending champion of Reggio 2010 was. Corus, maybe. Slightly. The only defending champion of actual concern is World Champ.

Excalibur's picture

hcl: You sure talk a lot of nonsense.

classic's picture

A lesson learned for the Gashimov-team for another occasion.

Janis Nisii's picture

What's the lesson learned, in your opinion?

hcl's picture

The lesson is he's not a super-GM, relatively unproven, uncharismatic, cannot impose conditions on tournament organizers.

Gashimov was invited in good faith - that's clear. His demand for extra conditions caused the organizers to look elsewhere.

For instance, when I look at 2700+ list, I would prefer everyone rated higher to Gashimov, but also many below, e.g. Kamsky, Ponomariov, Svidler, Mamedyarov, Gelfand, Polgar, Shirov, Giri, Jakovenko, for sure.

To me, he is about as preferable as a Sutovsky or Moiseenko despite being higher rated.

Janis Nisii's picture

I didn't ask you.
You're seriously full of hate, boy.

Septimus's picture

Perhaps you should learn how to read before talking nonsense. Where did he demand anything? All he requested for was Visas for his parents. He did make it very clear that he would handle all expenses. Don't become another juvenile troll like S3.

Alessandro Santagati's picture

You can get more information on this matter, which takes on sources close to the organization.

For the link in english :

Septimus's picture

Alessandro, are there any official statements you can find on the organizer's website? If we were to take the blog as true, it just reinforces the possibility of a communication problem, perhaps augmented by a serious language barrier.

hcl's picture

"Where did he demand anything? All he requested for was Visas for his parents."

Wrong. He *demanded* visas. Non-negotiable, he said. He did not "request". And anyway that was the only possible cause of failure, which is now confirmed.

Sarkhan Hashimov's picture


take a break, go to hospital - seems you have serious problems. Btw, can you please tell us what is your level of understanding of chess, may be you can share with us your elo? and we want to know the name of hero!

I wish all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Everything is perfect and how it was written here, it was very nice lesson to learn, San Sebastian is really nice place!

Sarkhan Hashimov's picture


you have special greetings from us!

Michael Bartl's picture

@Sarkhan Hashimov: Don't care for the trolls :) And Vugar: Have a great tournament!

Mike's picture

We are happy to welcome Vugar in Wijk aan Zee next week.

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