Known for his aggressive style of chess, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's talent was evident in his youth, and he remains the only player to win the World Junior Championship twice (in 2003 and 2005). One of the reasons that feat is so rare is that the best juniors tend to switch to playing the top tournaments as soon as they can, but in this case the second victory helped Mamedyarov to an invitation to the four-player Essent Tournament in 2006, where he finished first above Judit Polgar and Veselin Topalov. Invited back the following year he repeated that success, and soon cemented a place among the elite.
In 2013 Mamedyarov won the World Rapid Chess Championship, perhaps his best individual result to date, closely followed by shared first place at the 2010 Tal Memorial. He often stars for Azerbaijan in team events, where he’s given the white pieces against weaker players and encouraged to go on the rampage. In the 2012 Olympiad, for instance, he finished with the best rating performance of any player.
Mamedyarov finished runner-up in the 2012/3 Grand Prix series to qualify for the 2014 Candidates Tournament. He eventually finished with 50% for a respectable fourth place, though a disastrous start - he lost two of his first three games - meant he was never in the running for first place and a match against Magnus Carlsen.
Mamedyarov missed out on the 2016 Candidates but was arguably the player of the year in 2017 as he won the Grand Prix series to qualify for the 2018 Candidates in Berlin. He also won the Shamkir Chess supertournament as he climbed to clear no. 2 behind Carlsen in the world rankings. He went into the final round of the Candidates with a chance of becoming the World Championship challenger, but ultimately finished second to Fabiano Caruana.
Later in 2018 Shakhriyar won the Biel supertournament after winning what would become a historic game against Magnus Carlsen - the World Champion then went 125 classical games unbeaten over the next two years!
Mamedyarov comes from a chess family, as his two sisters Zeinab and
Turkan are women’s grandmasters.
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