Armenian men’s chess team won the 40th World Chess Olympiad, this year hosted by Istanbul, once again cementing its reputation as a chess superpower. Armenian golden team became champion for the third time.
Rivaling Hungary in the last and decisive round, Levon Aronian, Gabriel Sargissian and Vladimir Akopian played in a draw against Peter Leko, Ferenc Berkes and Judit Polgar, coresspondingly. The crucial win for our team secured Sergei Movsesian, who celebrated a victory over Zoltan Almasi, thus finishing the final round 2.5:1.5. Russia defeated Germany 3-1, but fell behind Armenia. China lost its match against Ukraine 3-1, falling down to the fourth position. Interesting enough is the fact that Russia’s team’s coach is an Armenian named Yuri Dokhoyan.
Armenia has also won the 2006 and 2008 Olympiads. According to BBC, chess for Armenians is an extremely important sport. There are both male and female chess grandmasters. There are schools dedicated simply to chess. Levon Aronian, the most popular of current grandmasters, is said to be as famous amongst the girls in Armenia as Justin Timberlake is in Armenia (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p004j7zg/Assignment_Armenia_the_cleverest_nation_on_earth/). Those who love the game, play at least about 4 hours per day and up to 7 hours, in hopes of perfecting their skills. Furthermore, the government provides for the young promising players by allowing them to study free of charge and sponsoring their tournaments abroad. Those who reach master or grandmaster levels are also provided with a salary equalling that of the average earning in Yerevan. This investment in chess is seen as an investment in creativity, in innovation and in allowing for the country to be recognized on an international level as a formidable foe in this sport. In 1963, Tigran Petrossyan became a beacon of hope for the Armenians when he took the title of World Chess Champion. Armenians are strong individualists and looking through the prism of chess, you can see a nation of very clever individuals with the potential to be great.
Jokingly, Armenians speak of chess as being the battlefield on which they foster strategies for defeating all opponents. It’s definitely a smart and efficient way of training the mind to think in a manner that yields victory after victory. The fact that chess is a relatively inexpensive sport for the most part, it’s highly desirable to have thousands of the nation’s children training their minds to think outside the box and compete in something worthwhile, instead of worrying about daily woes.
As of January 2010, Armenia has 36 male grandmasters, 20 male international masters, 3 female grandmasters, and 7 female international masters. The top 100 Armenian chess players can be found here: http://ratings.fide.com/topfed.phtml?tops=0&ina=2&country=ARM
Chess magazine: http://www.armchess.am/
Chess academy of Armenia: http://www.chessacademy.am/
BBC voice recording from games in Armenia: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p004j7zg/Assignment_Armenia_the_cleverest_nation_on_earth/
Chess introduced as part of the curriculum in Armenia: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16629820
Watch vital games on chess boards here: http://www.chess.com/news/armenia-win-the-40th-olympiad-6005