Senior chess player secures President’s Cup big win


Vasif Durarbayli scored a clutch win in the final match against St. Louis University in the 2017 President’s Cup Collegiate Chess Tournament.

With all of the support from Webster’s administration and students, Durarbayli said he felt proud being able to achieve a win for the team.

“If the position doesn’t allow you to win, play to defend or draw,” Durarbayli said.

Susan Polgar Institute of Chess Excellence (SPICE) assistant coach Paul Truong said Durarbayli is what he calls a “super scorer” because he is a player who can score a win when the team needs it.

“We have to know our players, the matchup, and how good they are,” Truong said. “Vasif is that type of player. So when we need that extra point, he comes in and delivers it.”

Durarbayli’s love of chess started when he was a kid. He knew it was his passion and decided to play professionally when he became a grandmaster at 18 years old.

“For two years I couldn’t achieve it,” Durarbayli said. “I was so close but after two years of work I completed it and was so happy.”

Among Durarbayli’s accomplishments include World Youth champion, European Youth champion, World Cup participant and three-time college chess Final Four champion.

Durarbayli said that he is always positive and aims to win, but he finds the bright side of things even when he loses a game. He has no regrets because he can learn from his past mistakes and make sure he does not make them again.

According to Durarbayli, being positive can actually have a negative effect when playing chess. He said sometimes he will underestimate or overestimate his opponent, which can cost him the game.

“It affects my sport, but my mood, no,” Durarbayli said.

Durarbayli said chess is a mental game based off strategy and he applies those skills in every aspect of his life. His interests includes ping pong, soccer, economics and finance.

Durarbayli also said playing chess makes you pay attention to human psychology.

“It’s like you can see the future, you can predict what’s going to happen,” Durarbayli said. “You can make a psychology analysis and ask yourself what’s his style, does he like attacking or defending and you can determine what kind of person he is by the way they move their piece.”

Teammate Ray Robson said Durarbayli never gives up on a chess match.

“I think one of his key characteristics is that when he gets a bad position, he doesn’t give up, but instead plays his very best and often wins or draws those games,” Robson said.

In the three years Durarbayli has played for Webster’s chess team, he has built friendships with his chessmates. He said when he is not focusing on his academics, he will play chess with some of his teammates because they have a common passion for the sport.

Durarbayli is an economics major who will graduate in May. He said he loves chess, but does not know how much he will play after he graduates.

“With economics, there is so much to learn,” Durarbayli said. “I like to learn and I don’t see anything boring, which is funny.”

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