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General Jan 2, 2015 | 5:00 PMby IM David Martínez

From 1949 to 2517 in three months

Parviz Gasimov, a 14-year-old from Azerbaijan, has managed the incredible feat of going from a 1949 rating in October 2014 to 2517 in the first rating list of 2015 – no less than a leap of 568 points in three months. Spanish IM David Martinez takes a look at how this “miracle” occurred.

A normal rating graph for a teenager… until the final three months! | source: FIDE

Up until October Parviz Gasimov’s level of play was nothing out of the ordinary. He operated in 1900-level tournaments and for his November rating three such events were taken into account. The first two were relatively normal – a junior event in Dubai, where he gained a single point and another in Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan) where he lost four. However, he then took part in the European U14 Championship in Batumi, Georgia, where he sprung one of the surprises of the tournament to claim bronze despite starting seeded as only no. 58. He gained a whopping 211 Elo points in the process!

It’s important to note that for juniors aged up to 18 with a rating below 2300 the “K factor” is 40, so that every point they gain beyond the expected result based on their rating is multiplied by 40 (before the changes approved by FIDE over the summer it was only 15). In Batumi Parviz scored 5.27 more points than expected, which when multiplied by 40 gives that remarkable 211 points.

Let’s take a look at his results:

As you can see, Parviz scored a brilliant 7/9 against opponents who outrated him by 200 points, for a 2426 performance rating - better even than that of those who scored 7.5 and placed above him on the podium.

Parviz, in glasses on the left, at the closing ceremony of the European Youth Championship in Batumi | photo: Sophie Nikoladze, official Facebook page

The level Parviz demonstrated in the tournament was already high and much superior to his 1900 rating, as can be seen from his final round game:

1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. ♗b5+ This check on b5 is probably the most solid system with which to meet the Sicilian.

3... ♗d7 4. ♗xd7+ ♘xd7 5. O-O ♘gf6 6. ♕e2 e6 7. b3 ♗e7 8. ♗b2 O-O 9. c4 Establishing the Maroczy bind.

9... ♕c7 10. d4 cxd4 11. ♘xd4 a6 12. ♘c3 ♖fe8 13. ♖ad1 ♖ac8 14. f4 Parviz has managed to gain an edge and now looks to attack the black king.

14... ♕b8 15. ♔h1 ♗d8 16. f5

16. g4 , with g5 to follow, is more common and undoubtedly better.

16... ♗a5 Allowing White to open the f-file. Black could have aimed for counterplay with

16... e5 17. ♘c2 b5 with a complex position.

17. fxe6 fxe6 18. ♖d3 Swinging the rook into the attack. A more aggressive option was

18. e5 since if Black takes the pawn then the square "ceases to exist" for the black knight, and if 18... ♘xe5 then you can follow up with 19. ♖xf6 gxf6 (19... ♗xc3 , declining the exchange, is the safest option. 20. ♖xe6 ♖xe6 21. ♘xe6 ♗xb2 22. ♕xb2 White has an advantage due to the weakness of d6, but there's still a long game ahead.) 20. ♘e4 with a dangerous attack on the black king.

18... ♘e5 19. ♖g3 ♔h8 20. ♕e3 Leaving the e2-square for the c3-knight.

20. ♘f3 immediately was better, but Parviz eventually plays it a couple of moves later.

20... ♕c7 21. ♘ce2 ♕f7

21... ♗b6! would have prevented Nf3.

22. ♘f3! ♘fg4 23. ♕g1 ♖f8 24. ♘xe5 The game gets complicated!

24. h3 is the silicon recommendation, but it was normal to reject that due to 24... ♕h5 when it seems that Black is doing well. However 25. ♕d4 would have exposed problems in the black position.

24... ♕xf1 25. ♘xg4 e5

25... ♕xe2 is possible, but very risky! After 26. ♗xg7+ ♔xg7 27. ♕d4+ Black has only one defence: 27... ♔g6! Miraculously the black king isn't getting mated. White would have had to settle for one of many perpetual checks. For example: 28. ♘h6+ ♔h5! 29. ♖h3+ ♔g6 30. ♖g3+

26. ♘c3 ♗xc3? Accepting a passive position. Nikitenko should have undermined the white pawn structure with

26... b5 and three results would definitely still be possible! The rook is about to enter on the c-file and Black should have compensation for the material deficit.

27. ♗xc3 ♕e2 28. ♘e3 ♖f4 29. ♕e1 Giving Black the chance to reach an ending where he has drawing chances. More accurate was

29. h3 , avoiding back-rank mate issues. If Black plays 29... ♖xe4 then 30. ♘f5 would enable White's pieces to coordinate perfectly.

29... ♕xa2?

29... ♕xe1+ 30. ♗xe1 ♖xe4 , with b5 to follow, and the ending is unclear.

30. ♘d5

30. h3 was again an option. 30... ♖xe4 would be met by 31. ♕d1 and the white pieces could try to coordinate without having to worry too much about their king.

30... ♖f7 31. h3 Finally!

31... ♕xb3? A mistake which allows White to finish off the game. Black should first have included

31... ♖cf8 32. ♘e3! (32. ♔h2 ♖f1 33. ♕d2 ♕b1 is dangerous for White) 32... ♕xb3 33. ♔h2 although White will follow up with Nf5 and still have an advantage.

32. ♗xe5 ♕a4 33. ♗xg7+! ♖xg7 34. ♖xg7 ♔xg7 35. ♕c3+ The black pieces are too far away from their king to help.

35... ♔g8 36. ♘e7+ ♔f7 37. ♘xc8 ♕c6 38. ♕h8 This great fighting victory enabled Parviz to make it onto the podium of the European U14 Championship.


After that event Parviz had climbed to 2157, but his surge didn’t end there. In a stunning November he managed to score 17/18 in two low-level tournaments.

First he played in Tula, where he scored 8/9 against opponents with an average rating of 2066. He lost to only one opponent and added 98 rating points. The following table shows his individual results and also how his rating changed after each game:

  Abaev, Viktor19181.008.00
  Krupoder, Sergey19621.0010.00
  Leonov, Mikhail A20361.0013.60
  Mazun, Alexander19901.0011.20
  Sadovsky, Artem22820.00-13.20
  Tuzinskiy, Denis22601.0025.60
  Semenov, Nikolai20821.0016.00
  Shatrov, Vladislav20661.0015.20
  Kazakov, Nikolay19991.0011.60

After that he scored 9/9 in another tournament, although he had clearly outgrown the opposition. Some of his opponents averaged 1400-1500 while his toughest rivals were rated 1950, 1892 and 1787. That enabled him to add another 39.6 points.

So after a great November Parviz still had the perfect Elo for another great leap. 2295 (below the 2300 barrier) maintained his K factor of 40.

When we look at the tournaments included in the calculations for the January list we’re surprised to find a tournament that Parviz played in August. In that event he scored well for that moment in time – 6/8 against opponents rating on average 1868, to gain 40 points, since his rating then was only 1964! You can’t deny, therefore, that bureaucracy also played a role in Parviz having an extended period with a K factor of 40.

The final spectacular leap came in the local Russian Championship in Aleksin. Played over 15 rounds at the start of November, Parviz defended a rating of 2157 against opposition rated on average 2122… and scored 12.5! That was 4.34 points more than expected and another 173.6 points spectacularly added on to his tally. Let’s take yet another look at his results game by game and how they affected his rating: 

  Drizgalovich, Mikhail22030.502.40
  Guchshin, Vladimir23120.508.40
  Tarasov, Artem19921.0011.20
  Iakushev, Dmitrij22520.505.20
  Yakushev, Yurij19921.0011.20
  Tarasov, Dmitry19681.0010.00
  Tarelichev, Nikolay19041.007.60
  Marichev, Dmitrij23550.5010.40
  Ponomarenko, Nikolai21121.0017.60
  Arkhipov, Vladimir P.20841.0016.00
  Sergeev, Gennady19711.0010.40
  Sergeev, Dmitry22451.0024.80
  Sotnikov, Alexey20101.0012.00
  Menshov, Vladimir22281.0024.00
  Krasnov, Yury A.22010.502.40

Parviz finished by playing in the Al-Ain Open in the United Arab Emirates in December, where he defended his 2295 rating with a strong 5/9 against 2244 rated opposition, although that only gained him 7 rating points.

So that’s how he accumulated the final 221.6 points that rocketed him up to 2517.

What can we say about this?

On the one hand the controversial K factor of 40 has led to enormous rating variations for many young players. It seems to me that the K factor should be reduced much sooner, when you reach around 2000 or at the very latest 2100. It's become somewhat common for promising teens to reach master or grandmaster level before their real strength merits those titles.

In this case, though, Parviz not only took advantage of such a high K factor but also demonstrated a spectacular improvement in his chess level in only a few months. What’s his real strength? Will he be capable of maintaining such a high Elo? It’s difficult to imagine he’ll manage to play at a 2500 level just now, though his current strength does seem far greater than the 1900 level he had three months ago. What was behind such a leap?

We’ll have to watch out for Gasimov in his upcoming tournaments to see if he’s capable of holding on at this level or not. On the internet you can find all kinds of theories and discussions about his achievement. What’s yours?

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