Safin Shukhrat’s demise, an Uzbek Grandmaster, who succumbed to blood cancer four months ago, has left Iuldachev Saidali shattered.
Here in the Capital for the 8th Parsvnath International Open Chess Tournament, Saidali is still finding it difficult to come to terms with his best friend’s death. “This is the first time I am playing without Shukhrat in this tournament. It’s very weird,” he said.
A language problem may have made it difficult to interact with the Uzbek GM, but it was easy to read the pain on the face. “We would hang out in Connaught Place after our matches, but it’s all over,” said Saidali, the voice choking with emotion.Normally, one hears tales of afflicted people fighting it out till the end, but that wasn’t the case with Shukhrat. He wept on his friend’s shoulder and the tears were interpreted as fear of death. Saidali later realised he was mistaken.
“I realised he was not afraid of death but feared who would feed his family when he was gone,” he said, the eyes welling up with tears. Shukhrat, who participated in the Parsvnath Chess Tournament since 2006, is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.
Bharat Singh Chauhan, a tournament official reminisced, “Once, I had handed him $400 as his fee by mistake when it was actually $500. Generally, GMs throw a lot of tantrums, but he just accepted the money. I later realised my mistake.”
Shukhrat spent his last days in hospital, surrounded by family and Saidali. “I maintained a brave front and cracked jokes so that he could leave happily. I am glad I did that,” said Saidali.