Open main menu

Teimour Radjabov (also spelled Teymur Rajabov; Azerbaijani: Teymur Rəcəbov; born 12 March 1987) is an Azerbaijani chess grandmaster former child prodigy. As of July 2019, he is ranked as No. 1 in Azerbaijan and No. 12 in the world rankings.

Teimour Radjabov
Teymur Rəcəbov.jpg
Radjabov at the 2018 Chess Olympiad
Full nameTeymur Rəcəbov
Born (1987-03-12) 12 March 1987 (age 32)
Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union
TitleGrandmaster (2001)
FIDE rating2759 (July 2019)
Peak rating2793 (November 2012)
RankingNo. 12 (June 2019)
Peak rankingNo. 4 (October 2012)
Teimour Radjabov
Medal record
Representing  Azerbaijan
Men's Chess
European Championship
Bronze medal – third place 2007 Crete Team
Gold medal – first place 2009 Novi Sad Team
Silver medal – second place 2011 Porto Carras Team
Gold medal – first place 2013 Warsaw Team
Gold medal – first place 2017 Crete Team

Radjabov earned the title of grandmaster in March 2001 at the age of 14, making him the second-youngest grandmaster in history at the time.[1] In 2003, Radjabov gained international attention after beating the-then World No. 1 Garry Kasparov in the Linares tournament, followed by victories over former World Champions Anand and Ponomariov all in the same year. Radjabov continued his progress over the years and became one of the top chess players in the world. In November 2012, he achieved his peak rating of 2793 and was rated as #4 in the world.

He has twice competed at the Candidates Tournaments in 2012 and 2013 and won the European Team Chess Championship with Azerbaijan in 2009, 2013 and 2017. His major tournament achievements include winning the 2008 Elista FIDE Grand Prix and 2017 Geneva FIDE Grand Prix, as well as placing joint-first in the 2007 Corus chess tournament.


Early lifeEdit

Radjabov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan.[2] His father, Boris Sheynin is a petroleum engineer who attended the same chess school in Baku with Garry Kasparov and his mother is an English language teacher.[3][4][5] Radjabov started playing chess at the age of 3 and attended secondary school number 160 in Baku. He was coached by his father.



Being the youngest of the participants Radjabov won the European Under 18 Championship, with the six years older Evgeny Postny in second place.


While still being 13 years old the 2483-rated Radjabov finished in second place in Wijk aan Zee B, scoring +6−2=3. Mikhail Gurevich (2694) in first place was ½ point ahead and the player to qualify for next year's Wijk aan Zee A.


Radjabov is the second youngest player ever, after Judit Polgar, to make it into the FIDE Top 100 players list. With a rating of 2599 in January 2002 he was ranked 93rd in the world while still 14 years old. In the FIDE Moscow Grand Prix rapid event in June he won matches against Ivanchuk, Svidler, Beliavsky and Akopian before losing the final to Kasparov ½–1½.[6]


In 2003 Radjabov defeated Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, and Ruslan Ponomariov with the black pieces, making him the first player to have beaten three former and reigning FIDE World Chess Champions with black in one year. Hikaru Nakamura repeated the feat in 2011 by beating Ponomariov, Anand and Vladimir Kramnik.

Radjabov's win against Ponomariov came in Wijk aan Zee, where Radjabov scored +3−3=7,[7] while the one against Anand came in Dortmund, where he scored +2−2=6.[8] The win against Kasparov in Linares was Radjabov's only win in the tournament,[9] where he ended up with a +1−4=7 score.[10] Kasparov had been undefeated in five consecutive Linares tournaments before losing to Radjabov. He had not lost a rated game with white in seven years, and never lost one again.


Radjabov participated in Linares where he scored +2−2=8 and shared fourth place with Veselin Topalov, one point behind winner Vladimir Kramnik, after drawing both his games against Garry Kasparov.[11] He also reached the semifinals (earning a bronze medal) at the FIDE World Chess Championship 2004.


Radjabov won Dos Hermanas in April, ahead of among others Dreev and Azmaiparashvili. Later in the year he finished second in the European Championship, behind Nisipeanu but with Karjakin, Ivanchuk and Aronian in third to fifth place.[12]


On February 22 Radjabov defeated FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov (2801) with the black pieces[13] and subsequently finished second in Linares/Morelia after scoring +4−2=8 in the tournament.[14]

In November Radjabov won the strong Cap d'Agde rapid tournament. He won all his games in quarter and semifinals against Volokitin and Bacrot, and went on to win the final against Sergey Karjakin (who had eliminated Magnus Carlsen in his semifinal) 1½–½.[15]

In December, during the Creativity Festival in Florence (Tuscany, Italy), Radjabov lost a rapid game against Deep Junior, the chess engine that won the Turin World Computer Chess Championship.[16]


In January Radjabov shared first place at the Category 19 Corus Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee with Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian, ahead of Kramnik and Anand. He scored five wins, one loss and seven draws.[17]

Radjabov was also to play the Morelia/Linares Tournament 2007, but due to a robbery of some of his belongings in Mexico, he withdrew from the tournament. His position was taken by Vassily Ivanchuk.[18]


Radjabov versus Veselin Topalov in Bilbao, 2008

In January Radjabov won the ACP Rapid Cup in Odessa after beating Grischuk in the final 2–5–1½.[19] Later the same month he shared third in Wijk aan Zee together with World Champion Viswanathan Anand after beating him with white, finishing ½ from first (+3−1=9).[20] Radjabov had an average Linares (+2−2=8),[21] and a disappointing Baku (+2−3=8),[22] but finished third in Sofia (+2−1=7), behind Ivanchuk and Topalov.[23] In Sochi in August he finished second (+5−2=6) behind Aronian,[24] and capped a very active tournament year by sharing first in Elista (+4−1=8).[25]


In Wijk aan Zee Radjabov shared second place with Aronian and Sergei Movsesian, ½ behind winner Sergey Karjakin.[26] He finished fifth on tiebreak in Linares after scoring his only win in the tournament against Aronian,[27] and was undefeated in Bazna in June, even if he only won once, against Gata Kamsky.[28] In October Radjabov led the Azerbaijani team to victory at the European Team Chess Championship in Novi Sad.[29][30]


In May Radjabov shared second place in Astrakhan, securing second place in the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010, thereby qualifying for the Candidates tournament for the World Chess Championship 2012.[31] In Bazna the following month Radjabov shared second place with Boris Gelfand after beating him in both their individual games (Carlsen won the tournament).[32] Radjabov finished in second place also in the World Blitz Championship, with 24/38. Aronian won with 24½ while Carlsen was third with 23½.[33]


In his Candidates quarterfinal in Kazan Radjabov was eliminated by Vladimir Kramnik in blitz tiebreak, after a controversial incident of chess clock malfunction.[34][35]

Radjabov got married October 7 after a spectacular performance rating of 3019 in the European Chess Cup Championships playing first board for the team SOCAR, with the team coming second overall. Later the same month Radjabov led the Azerbaijani team to silver medals at the European Team Chess Championship in Porto Carras. In November he reached a new peak rating of 2781.


Radjabov playing in 2012

In January Radjabov competed in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee; the field included among others world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen and world No. 2 Levon Aronian. The average rating of the field was 2755, making this thirteen-round event a category 21 tournament.[36] Radjabov scored +3−0=10 and tied for second place with Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, a point behind winner Levon Aronian.[37] It was his fourth consecutive top three finish in Wijk. In the even stronger Tal Memorial (category 22 with an average rating of 2776) he shared second place again (+2−1=6), behind winner Carlsen, and reached a new peak rating and ranking as No. 4 with 2788 on the July list.[38] Radjabov also competed as first board in the 2012 Olympiad in Istanbul Turkey 2012, and as a result pushed his rating from 2788 to his personal all-time high of 2793, and received second highest performance on the first board. On October 17 Radjabov led the SOCAR chess team to a win in the European Chess Club Cup by playing on the first board, and again received second highest performance on his board.


Radjabov played in the 2013 Candidates Tournament, which took place in London, from 15 March to 1 April. He finished last, with +1−7=6.[39]

Radjabov's national team won at the European Team Chess Championship in November 2013 in Warsaw, Poland.[40] Radjabov scored 4½/8 (+1−0=7) in the tournament.[41]


Radjabov returned to top chess at the inaugural Gashimov Memorial also known as Shamkir Chess, commemorating the late Azeri grandmaster. Radjabov scored 5/10 and placed third behind Carlsen and Caruana, picking up 11 rating points. He defeated Magnus Carlsen in their individual game.


Radjabov participated in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament and placed 8th out of 14 with 6/13 points. In the same year, he won the bronze medal at the World Rapid Chess Championship behind Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi.


In 2016, Radjabov played in numerous tournaments such as the Gashimov Memorial, European Club Cup, World Blitz and Rapid Championship and Chess Olympiad without winning any tournaments.


In April, Radjabov competed in the annual Shamkir Chess tournament and finished 8th out of 10 players.

Radjabov competed in the FIDE Grand Prix 2017. He placed 4th out of 18 in the Moscow round in May. In July, he won clear first in the Geneva round by scoring 6/9 points. He was able to defeat Giri, Svidler and Eljanov, and drew in the other 6 games. He scored 5/9 points in the final round in Palma, and placed third in the overall Grand Prix ranking, being 24 points short from securing the second place and qualification to the 2018 Candidates Tournament.

In September 2017 ranking of FIDE, Radjabov was ranked as no. 19 in the world. This was the first time since October 2015 when Radjabov was able to enter the top 20 in the list. The following month, he climbed to no. 17, his highest ranking in more than four years. In November, Radjabov won the gold medals at the European Team Chess Championship with Azerbaijan national team and earned individual silver medal on the second board.


In April 2018, Radjabov participated in the fifth edition of Shamkir Chess, finishing seventh with a score of 4½/9 (+0–0=9).[42] He gained 3 rating points and reached #16 in the May FIDE world rankings, his highest ranking in more than 5 years.

In the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Radjabov played for Azerbaijan and scored +6-0=4 with a notable victory over Wesley So. Team Azerbaijan completed the tournament as #15 while Radjabov earned an individual bronze medal on board 2. He also earned 6 rating points and moved to #14 in world rankings.


In January, Radjabov returned to Tata Steel Chess Tournament and placed 7th by earning 6.5 points (+1-1=11).

In April, Radjabov played in Shamkir Chess for the 5th time. He also continued his rally in the world rankings and reached #12.

In May, Teimour participated in the FIDE Grand Prix 2019, a stage in qualification for the World Chess Championship 2020. He was eliminated[43] from the Moscow Grand Prix tournament in the first round on tie-breaks by American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.

In July, Teimour played in Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting and placed joint 2nd-5th places with 4 points (+1-0=6).

Playing styleEdit

Radjabov is almost single-handedly responsible for the current revival of the King's Indian Defence.[44] He even beat world No. 1, Magnus Carlsen, with this defense in 2014 at the Gashimov Memorial 2014. He is also the only top player to consistently employ the sharp Schliemann Defence in the Ruy Lopez, scoring +1−0=10 with it in top tournaments 2008–2011, drawing among others Carlsen, Anand, Topalov, Svidler, Ivanchuk and Karjakin, and beating Adams. Radjabov has been called an excellent counter-attacker, adept at seizing control after an opponent makes a minor mistake.[45]

At the 2003 Linares chess tournament, Radjabov, who was 15 years old, defeated Kasparov with the black pieces. The game was controversially voted the most beautiful game of the tournament. Proponents praised Radjabov's resiliency and courage against the reigning world No. 1; detractors argued that Radjabov was losing and it was only because Kasparov blundered that he won the game.[46]

Position after 21.Be2. Radjabov (Black) surprises Kasparov by sacrificing a knight for the initiative.

Radjabov's knight sacrifice, 21...Ngxe5, was praised by several strong players for its bravery, including English grandmaster Nigel Short:

Radjabov plays very imaginatively... he just won't give up, he is extremely tenacious and will always find a way to muddy the waters to throw you off track. He is very good at finding disconcerting moves. Here he unbalances Kasparov completely, disturbing his rhythm of play... That was the point of Radjabov's sacrifice – it was not sound but it gave him these practical chances.[47]

However, the sacrifice was called "desperation" by GM Miguel Illescas, and according to, "The Grandmasters we have talked to praised Radjabov's resilience in a bad position but criticized the game as unworthy of a prize because it was based on blunders."[47]

Radjabov became the first player born since Kasparov first became World Chess Champion in 1985, to defeat him. Radjabov is also the youngest player in history to defeat a reigning world No. 1 in a game at tournament time controls.[48]

Notable tournament victoriesEdit


In an interview in 2005, Radjabov said that Kasparov used his influence to prevent Radjabov from being invited to top tournaments, after Radjabov scored well against him at Linares 2003 (+1=1).[49]

In 2007, on a question on how he felt about playing against the Armenian team, an Azerbaijani news agency quoted Radjabov as saying: "We all have feelings of hate towards them." Radjabov claimed that the statement had been attributed to him "in a supernormal form", and that while "we do not have simple relations with Armenia", he would "never stoop to pathological nationalism".[50]


In May 2006,[51] Radjabov was appointed as the UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador for Azerbaijan.[52] He advocates for the cause of the universal salt iodization in the country. UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan Hanaa Singer stated that they were very pleased to have Radjabov in the work to improve the lives of children and young people in Azerbaijan. They were confident that Radjabov would become an outspoken and active advocate for the cause, using his great talents to inspire young people.


  1. ^ "Chess News – Chess prodigies and mini-grandmasters". 2006-01-10. Retrieved 2011-07-15.[dead link]
  2. ^ At the Corus Tournament. (PDF). Retrieved on 2011-07-15.
  3. ^ Редакция журнала Наука и жизнь (2004-12-14). "БАКИНСКИЙ ВУНДЕРКИНД № 2 | Наука и жизнь". Nauka i Zhizn. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  4. ^ Leonard Barden (25 February 2003):Kasparov defeated by 15-year-old prodigy The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  5. ^ Teimour Radjabov
  6. ^ FIDE Moscow Grand Prix Moscow World Chess Grand Prix 2002. Retrieved on 2012-06-23.[dead link]
  7. ^ Vishy wins Wijk. 2003-01-27. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  8. ^ Dortmund Round 10: Viorel Bologan sole winner. 2003-08-13. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  9. ^ A Black Day in Linares! Radjabov Defeats Kasparov. 2003-02-23. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  10. ^ Kramnik–Leko, Anand–Kasparov Drawn. Leko Takes Title. 2003-03-09. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  11. ^ Linares 14: Vallejo holds Kasparov; Kramnik clear first. 2004-03-08. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  12. ^ Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu new European Champion. 2005-07-02. Retrieved on 28 December 2015.
  13. ^ Morelia R4: Topalov implodes, Svidler and Leko skyrocket. 2006-02-23. Retrieved on 2012-06-24.
  14. ^ Chess News – Linares R14: Levon Aronian wins Morelia/Linares Super-GM. 2006-03-11. Retrieved on 28 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Teimour Radjabov wins Cap d'Agde". Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Meanwhile in Florence: Radjabov vs Deep Junior". Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  17. ^ Corus Chess 2007 – Report of round 13. Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Retrieved on 2012-06-23.
  18. ^ "Teimour Radjabov withdraws from Morelia – Linares 2007". Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  19. ^ Radjabov wins ACP World Rapid Cup in Odessa. 2008-01-08. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  20. ^ Wijk R13: Aronian, Carlsen win Wijk aan Zee 2008. 2008-01-27. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  21. ^ Linares R14: All games drawn, Anand wins Super-GM. 2008-03-07. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  22. ^ Baku R13: Gashimov, Wang and Carlsen win Grand Prix. 2008-05-05. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  23. ^ MTel R10: Ivanchuk wins Sofia by 1½ points. 2008-05-18. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  24. ^ Sochi R13: Aronian wins Second FIDE Grand Prix. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  25. ^ Elista R13: Eljanov beats Inarkiev, all other games drawn. 2008-12-28. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  26. ^ Wijk R13: Sergey Karjakin wins Wijk aan Zee 2009. 2009-02-01. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  27. ^ Linares R14: All games drawn, Grischuk wins on tiebreak. 2009-03-07. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  28. ^ Bazna R10: Ivanchuk wins with a full point lead. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  29. ^ Сборная Азербайджана стала чемпионом Европы по шахматам ‹See Tfd›(in Russian)
  30. ^ "Gold for Azerbaijan and Russia in Novi Sad". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  31. ^ GP in Astrakhan: Eljanov wins by a full point. 2010-05-25. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  32. ^ Medias R10: Magnus Carlsen wins with two-point lead 2010-06-25. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
  33. ^ Aronian wins World Blitz Championship. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  34. ^ Aliyev, Elmir. "Скандальное поражение Теймура Раджабова от Владимира Крамника – ДОПОЛНЕНО". Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  35. ^ "Раджабов не винит поломку шахматных часов в поражении от Крамника". Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  36. ^ "Participants – Tata Steel Chess". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  37. ^ Wijk aan Zee Rd13: Aronian is sole winner! 2012-01-30. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  38. ^ Tal Memorial Rd9 – Carlsen takes title in record event 2012-06-19. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  39. ^ "Tournament standings". FIDE. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  40. ^ "Standings - round 9". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  41. ^ "Player's Card". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  42. ^ Staff writer(s) (28 April 2018). "Results: Cross Table". Shamkir Chess.
  43. ^ Doggers, Peter (20 May 2019). "Nakamura, So Through To Round 2 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow".
  44. ^ "FIDE Grand Prix Series: Radjabov, Teimour". FIDE. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  45. ^ Scimia, Edward. "Teimour Radjabov Profile". Archived from the original on 12 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  46. ^ Chess News – Kasparov's outburst over beauty prize in Linares. 2003-03-11. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  47. ^ a b Chess News – Kasparov's outburst over beauty prize in Linares. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  48. ^ Nazarli, R. Теймур Раджабов – самый молодой гроссмейстер за всю историю мировых шахмат [Teimour Radjabov - the youngest Grandmaster in the history of world chess]. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  49. ^ Radjabov: Kasparov is obstructing my career. 2005-01-05. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  50. ^ Teimur Radjabov: We believe common sense will prevail. 2007-11-12. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  51. ^ UNICEF people
  52. ^ Teimour Radjabov Meets Jean-Paul Belmondo. 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2012-06-24.

External linksEdit