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Leonard Barden on Chess

The 32-year-old took joint-first place at the Grand Prix in Sharjah, won the tournament in Shamkir and scored 4/4 in the Russian team championship

Rarely does a chess player upset the established pecking order so quickly as Shak Mamedyarov. The 32-year-old Azeri has been on a roll in the last month, jumping to No5 in the world by dynamic attacking play, and is now the favourite to win the Fide Grand Prix and thus become a candidate to challenge for Magnus Carlsen’s global title. He has achieved the coveted 2800 live rating and threatens to undermine next month’s super elite event at Stavanger, Norway, which claimed to be the strongest in all chess history when the then top 10 accepted invitations.

Mamedyarov’s surge has included joint first in the opening Grand Prix event at Sharjah; victory at the Shamkir tournament on his home soil, where he finished ahead of the world No2, Wesley So; a 4/4 sweep in the Russian team championship; and the Moscow leg of the Grand Prix, where he shared the seventh-round lead with China’s Ding Liren on 4.5/7. The final two rounds at Moscow this weekend (11am start) can be watched free and live at chessbase.com and chessbomb.com, or for a fee at the official site worldchess.com.

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