Chess Tactics: Radjabov — Naiditsch, 2003

Teimour Radjabov

Teimour Radjabov. Photo:

Teimour Radjabov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1987.

He was at one point the youngest grandmaster in the world, achieving the highest title in chess at the age of 14 years and 14 days (at that time, Bu Xiangzhi was the youngest GM ever, before Sergey Karjakin shattered the record in 2002).

Radjabov began playing top tournaments at age 14, making appearances at Dortmund, Wijk aan Zee, and Linares. His peak world rank was No. 4 (October 2012), and a month later he achieved his highest mark on the FIDE Rating List: 2793.

In recent years it seemed the gifted Azeri was finished as an absolute top player, but he surprisingly won the 2019 World Cup, defeating Ding Liren in the finals. This earned him a spot in the 2020 Candidates Tournament. FIDE screwed the pooch on that one, but I look forward to seeing Radjabov in the next Candidates.


Dortmund 2003 is best remembered for a monumental upset: Victor Bologan (World No. 42) triumphed in a six-player double round-robin over Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand, and Peter Leko — ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the world, respectively.

Two youngsters also took part in that event: Radjabov and Arkadij Naiditsch.

Everyone should play through Alexander Finkel’s annotations for ChessBase to the Round 8 battle, below — how to handle, or in this case not handle, a direct kingside attack from a Queen Pawn Game (here, the Torre Attack).

White to play. How did Radjabov launch a deadly attack?



Where is your counterplay coming from?

Follow me!

Comments (2)

  1. Reply

    Radjabov finished with an even score, notched a win against Anand and added yet more rating points. He showed disappointing conservatism by playing several short draws with white. When he did play hard, or was forced to, his chess was as inventive and aggressive as always. Radjabov’s tactical sang froid and never say die attitude saved several half-points. Peter Leko had an unlucky tournament and was punished for his mistakes. His nerve appeared to fail him in his loss to Bologan and a favorable attack quickly went sour. He ran into a fired-up Anand and he again failed to make something out of a pleasant position. Anand didn’t return the favor. Radjabov’s miracle escape in round seven took the last gasps of air out of Leko’s sails.

    • Reply

      It’s strange: Radjabov has always felt more dangerous with black than white! I agree he can be too conservative when he has the first move.

      Leko in peak form was a formidable opponent, but if he was just a little off, his results were lackluster. And in 2003 Leko was near his peak!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *