The Armenian Chess Federation
The Armenian Chess Federation was founded in 1927. Armenia’s first National Championship was held in 1934, and was won by the great Henrik Kasparian, who went on to win this title ten times. Kasparian was the first Armenian Master, and is renowned internationally as among the greatest chess composers ever. The former World Champion Tigran Petrosian was bestowed Champion of Armenia three times. Armenia has been a member of FIDE since 1992, following the breakup of the Soviet Union and its rebirth as an independent country.
The international achievements of Armenia’s players have only increased in number since independence. For example, the men’s team two times earned the gold medal at the 2006 and 2008 Olympiads and bronze medals in three recent others (1992, 2002, and 2004). In addition, Armenia was the World Team Champion in 2011 and secured third place at the three World Team Championships (1997,2001, 2005) and became the European Champions in 1999, while the Yerevan club team won in the European Club Cup Championship in 1995. The women’s team has been no less impressive of late, having won the European Championship in 2003, while the women’s Mika Club team won the European Cup Championship in 2006.
Individual stars are plentiful in the Armenian Federation. Levon Aronian has been Armenia’s top star in recent years, winning many elite tournaments including the World Cup in 2005. In 1999, the three-time junior World Champion Vladimir Akopian earned second place in the FIDE World Championship. Many talented and accomplished GMs round out the rest of the mainstays among the Armenian elite, including Rafael Vaganian, Smbat Lputian, Ashot Anastasian, Artashes Minasian, Karen Asrian, Gabriel Sargissian, Tigran L. Petrosian, and Zaven Andriasian. Longtime, seasoned coach Arshak Petrosian, plus newer faces such as Arshak Petrosian, Tigran Nalbandian and Arsen Yegiazarian have reached prominent success as trainers internationally as well. Armenian representatives have repeatedly become champions in World and European Junior Championships, while the Armenian national team won the World Junior Olympiad in 1999.
Armenia now boasts no less than 38 grandmasters, 30 international masters, and 18 FIDE masters. Currently, 443 chess players have international ratings, while more than 3200 chess players have national ratings. Among ordinary fans it is no exaggeration to say that one can stumble across a friendly game in just about every Armenian household.
Armenia has also been the host country for a number of international tournaments of the highest level, including several World and European Junior Championships. In 1996, Armenia hosted the 32nd Chess Olympiad, and in 2001, the 5th World Team Championship.
In 2004, the Minister of Defense of Armenia, Serge Sargsyan (now President), was elected president of the Armenian Chess Federation.
The Chess House of Armenia which opened its doors in 1970, is named after the greatest Armenian chess legend, the former World Champion, Tigran Petrosian. A year later, a professional chess school was opened at this center. Shortly thereafter, the official newspaper “Chess in Armenia” was published for the first time. In 2002, the Chess Academy of Armenia was founded.