Eureka! There it was on a recent front page of the Wall Street Journal, a picture of grandmaster Tigran Petrosian, the namesake, though not a descendant, of the former World Chess champion, nestled below an article on the “Fiscal Cliff.” We were pleased that the surprise article was about a country, Armenia, as ardent about chess as Britain is about its Royal family.
Armenia, with a population under 3 million, has won the gold medal in the chess Olympiads three out of the last times, coming out ahead of behemoths that entered. Americans would be stunned to find that Petrosian aroused the level of interest of a Hollywood idol, but in Armenia chess players are stars. Joe Parkinson, the author of the Journal article, explains that the chess players in Armenia have full governmental support and that chess is, by law, compulsory in the public schools. The state provides free chess training for children, pays for their participation in foreign countries and for chess sets and equipment. Compare that to the US where chess players pay for even their own pawns. Parkinson points out that most Armenians can remember the date that the original Tigran Petrosian (whom we will call No. 1) won the world championship against Mikhail Botvinnik in 1963.
We wrote an article about Petrosian No.1 for aArmenian newspaper in Watertown comparing its champion to the Roman warrior Fabius Cunctator, because of Petrosian’s defensive type of chess. Boris Spassky, on his second try, took the title away from Petrosian. The latter interrupted Bobby Fischer’s record of 20 wins during their 1971 Candidate match in Argentina, and was greeted by his fans’ cries of “Tigran, Tigran!,” but succumbed to Fischer in the match.
Petrosian No. 2 is a fine player, but the current top player in Armenia is Levon Aronian, rated No. 3 in the world and famed for his unorthodox approach to a game with so many distressing twists and turns.
Armenian chess in Massachusetts has given us George Mirijanian’s program, “Chess Chat.”We are emphatically impressed by the fact that that the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, is also the president of the Armenian Chess Federation. Attention United States Chess Association: You could give the presidency of America a permanent cachet that it has often lacked, a renaissance face toward all nations.
Brevity: O. Popovych v. W. Lombardy (1954) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 Qc7 7.Bd3 e5 8.Nf3 b5 9.a3 Nb8-d7 10.0–0 Be7 11.Kh1 0–0 12.Qe1 Bb7 13.Nh4 Re8 14.Nf5 Bf8 15.Qg3 Kh8 16.fxe5 Rxe5 17.Qh4 Re8 18.Bg5 Ng8 19.e5 g6 20.Nxd6 Bd6 21.Rf7; 1-0
Winners: Spiegel Cup First Qualifier Age 11&U: 1st, Alex Fauman, 4-0, 2d, Eddie Wei, 3.5-.5; 3d-7th, Alan Sikarov, Alon Trogan , David Sun, Henry Liu, Lucy Cai, all 3-1; November Boylston Thursday Night Swiss: 1st, Jesse Nicholas 4-0, 2d-4th, Eric Godin, Terrence Fricker, Brian Perez-Daple, 3-1;
Coming Events: Waltham CC’s Xmas Party, G/5/ or G/10, Friday, Waltham Chess Club, www.walthamchessclub.org ; Wachusett CC’s Reggie Boone Memorial, Jan.2, 9, 16, 23, 30
McKay Campus School, Room C159, Fitchburg State University, 67 Rindge Road, Fitchburg ,