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A CHECKERED HISTORY: WHY ARMENIA DOMINATES THE CHESS WORLD


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#1 Yervant1

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 09:37 AM

A CHECKERED HISTORY: WHY ARMENIA DOMINATES THE CHESS WORLD

New Statesman, UK
May 21 2014

Amid calls for the UK to embrace chess as an academic subject, chess
enthusiasts look to Armenia, the Caucasian state that improbably
dominates the chess world.

by Anoosh Chakelian

Last month, the former president of education union the Association
of Teachers and Lecturers Hank Roberts said Britain should make chess
compulsory in all state primary schools. He wants children to learn
a game that is so much more than "kings, queens, rooks etc".

He complained that the UK was behind many other European countries
in failing to recognise the game as a sport. But the only country
in the world to have compulsory chess lessons is Armenia: a small,
post-Soviet state landlocked in the Caucasus.

Armenia is not a natural leader on the global stage. Its tensions
with neighbouring Turkey are ever-present from the memory of its past
turmoil with the Ottomans during the First World War, and on the other
side, it remains at war with Azerbaijan. Aside from its modern-day
mouthpiece, the Kardashians - a somewhat double-edged nail-file -
it has a tough time having its voice heard in the Caucasus, let alone
the world.

Armenia is ranked as a lower middle income country by the World Bank.

It has an average life expectancy of 74 and its poverty rate as a
percentage of the population is 32.4 per cent. Its literacy rate is
at 99.6 per cent and in 2011, it brought in compulsory chess lessons
at primary school age. It is the only country to have done so.

For a country so hopelessly unable to master the world's geo-political
realities, it is a cradle of strategy, precision and expert
outmanoeuvring. It soars ahead in its aptitude at chess.

"Of the bits I've seen of the Armenian model, I was impressed with how
incredibly good their children were at visualising things," remarks
the Telegraph's chess columnist and head of charity Chess in Schools
and Communities Malcolm Pein. "I saw, I think it was a class of what
we call here Year Fours, who could literally move pieces around in
their head along a chessboard. A lot of children can do that, but
they were incredibly good at it."

Through his campaigning for chess in schools, Pein is aiming for every
child in the UK to have 30 hours of chess lessons in their six years
of primary school. He's not working towards a compulsory programme,
which is somewhat easier to organise in a state with a population of
three million than in the UK, but praises Armenia's scheme:

"What the Armenians have done is demonstrate organisationally how it's
possible to teach chess to an entire country," he says. "Admittedly
it's a small country, but they did it in a very, very systematic way.

They got together I think about 300 people and taught them how to
teach chess... that's the main constraint to getting it out there,
that not that many people know how to teach it."

Armenia triumphed in the most recent Chess Olympiad - a particularly
joyous checkmate for the country, as the contest was held in Istanbul.

It often beats the globally mightier chess superpowers like Russia,
China, the US and Ukraine. It also claimed the crown (or, indeed, the
king) in 2006 and 2008 - which is two in a row; the Chess Olympiad
is bi-annual. It has one of the highest numbers of grandmasters per
capita in the world.

The country's obsession with chess transcends all age groups. You
can see this in a 2009 BBC World Service report titled 'Armenia: the
cleverest nation on earth', which notes "four generations" turning
out to watch its champion Levon Aronian play a match in the Armenian
mountains. It describes "young kids aged five, six, seven years old
and grizzled old men in sunglasses."

Dr Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian ambassador to the UK and briefly
Armenian prime minister in the Nineties, gives his experience of the
game's universal appeal there:

"I have a granddaughter who is two, and one of the toys she has is a
chessboard. It helps so much with concentration, discipline, ability
of tactics and strategy. It's very important.

"I was a child when my father taught me - I was very good at chess. I
used to beat very old people, who'd get annoyed that a child was
beating them... When I was really young, I remember we had a neighbour,
a retired gentleman, who I played chess with, and running between
being fed and making my next move."

As a result of the game's popularity, their chess players are revered
as celebrities. Their current top player, the tousled and be-stubbled
Aronian, is also a bit of a heartthrob. Teenagers want to have photos
taken with him, and he's been likened to Armenia's David Beckham.

When grandmaster Tigran Petrosian, World Chess Champion from 1963-69,
took the title for the first time, there were spontaneous celebrations
throughout Armenia and he became a national hero.

"The whole nation was behind it," recalls Sarkissian. "There was a huge
chessboard showing the game in Opera Square in Yerevan [the capital],
and tens of thousands of people were watching it. Everyone watched
it. It was a national victory.

"There were not many ways of displaying your national pride in the
Soviet Union, but for an Armenian guy to win, there was huge pride
for the whole nation. People on the streets were singing, dancing. It
was natural, not organised by the state."

Although Armenia became a hothouse for producing chess champions under
the Soviet Union - eager to have its talented comrades triumph over
the West in all endeavours - it has a historical love of chess that
goes way back to the Middle Ages.

"It's an old game that was popular in Armenia for centuries," notes
Sarkissian, "then it became very, very popular during the Soviet era -
sixties, seventies, eighties and further."

Indeed, Garry Kasparov, formerly a Soviet grandmaster, and considered
by many as the world's best ever chess player, is of Armenian
heritage. His surname was originally Gasparyan - which has the classic
common ending of an Armenian name, which usually end in "ian" or "yan".

Top Armenian players, now breaking the pattern for Russian victory
on the checkerboard, honed their skills under Soviet rule - a regime
which, among aggressive industrial advancement and paranoid atomisation
of society, decided that it would quite like its loyal comrades to
move little wooden pieces across a board patterned like a Seventies
tablecloth in an adroit manner (take that, you capitalist pigs!).

"I'm proud of Armenia," concludes Sarkissian. "I hope that one day
I'll be proud of Armenia on other sectors as well! I want Armenia to
be as prominent in economy, industrial growth, culture and others as
it is in chess. It needs a lot of hard work, devotion and love."

It is oddly pleasing that a nation so unfortunately located on the
Caucasian chessboard of socio-religious turmoil excels at a game
reliant on superior positioning.

But perhaps this is why it is a pastime so relished by the country's
population. Having been relegated for so long to being a pawn in the
game of empires from the Ottomans to the Soviets, there must be some
satisfaction in finally capturing the king.

http://www.newstates...tes-chess-world
 

 


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#2 MosJan

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 10:33 PM

Grate  Find  Yervand  jan



#3 Arpa

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 11:02 AM

Grate  Find  Yervand  jan

:ap: :ap: Dear Mos, this is GRATE :ap: :ap:
I am immensely GRATEFUL to you.
http://fc09.devianta...er_Grate_01.jpg
Sewer_Grate_01.jpg





Definition of GRATE =1 archaic : abrade =2 : to reduce to small particles by rubbing on something rough <grate cheese>a : to gnash or grind noisily, to cause to make a rasping sound to rub or rasp noisily

** And this is GREAT!!!

adjective: great; comparative adjective: greater; superlative adjective: greatest of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.

TIGRAN THE GREAT ՄԵԾՆ ՏԻԳՐԱՆ
http://en.wikipedia....Tigran_Mets.jpg
File:Tigran_Mets.jpg
http://en.wikipedia....ranes_the_Great
** Cheese grate. Պանիր կրտկտան, Խարտոց***
http://hy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Խարտոց
http://www.allianceo...es/LCGT0003.jpg
*** File http://ecx.images-am...v0L._SY300_.jpg
Rasp http://visual.merria...-tools/rasp.jpg

Edited by Arpa, 23 May 2014 - 11:09 AM.


#4 Yervant1

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 09:01 AM

Birmingham, Alabama, plans to follow Armenia's example, introduce
chess in schools

17:15 22.07.2014


Birmingham, Alabama, is looking to make chess a fixture in its
schools, in hopes that it will allow kids to stretch their minds and
improve their analytical abilities, the Desert News reports.

The plan is to create chess clubs at 15 to 20 schools in the
Birmingham school system. The hopes reach beyond math, AL.com notes.
"According to Birmingham City Schools officials, the benefit of chess
instruction is not limited to math achievement," AL.com noted. "It is
also known to increase analytical and problem solving skills, improve
memory and has even been shown to increase IQ scores, they said."

But math is a big part of the picture. School officials cite a 1998
study that showed improved math skills after exposure to chess, AL.com
reported. "The researchers randomly gave black high school students
from the rural South 120 hours of chess instruction. They then
administered math proficiency tests and found that students who
received the chess instruction scored better than those who did not."

"Chess allows students to think critically, to strategize, to plan
moves several steps ahead, and to think about consequences of moves,"
said Dr. Chad Witherspoon, superintendent of the Birmingham City
Schools in a new promotional video. "It gives students an opportunity
to think at a different level."

Across the Atlantic a similar chess push is underway, as an
ideologically diverse group of political leaders in the United Kingdom
is now pushing for chess integration into public schools.

Yasmin Qureshi, a Member of Parliament, argued that all state primary
schools should have chess as part of the curriculum and should be made
a sport with access to sports funding, according to a report in the
Telegraph.

"The skills involved in playing chess are actually skills that a lot
of young people can benefit from learning, especially children who
have problems with attention and hyperactivity," Qureshi said.

In 2011 chess became a compulsory feature in public schools in
Armenia, a nation obsessed with the game. Armenia invested $1.5
million to create textbooks and curricula, train instructors and buy
equipment.

"We hope that the Armenian teaching model might become among the best
in the world," Armen Ashotyan told The Associated Press at the time.

"By incorporating chess as part of the curriculum you are including a
game, and that's how kids see it," said Wendi Fischer, executive
director of the US Foundation for Chess in the same AP report. "They
think they're focused on fun. So I think it is a great way to cross
over between a true hardcore curriculum that's mandatory and the young
children being able to play and explore and have fun."

http://www.armradio....ess-in-schools/
 


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#5 Yervant1

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Posted 18 October 2014 - 10:28 AM

KIRSAN ILYUMZHINOV: LOVE FOR CHESS IS IN ARMENIANS' BLOOD

by Ashot Safaryan

ARMINFO
Friday, October 17, 14:02

Love for chess is in Armenians' blood, FIDE President Kirsan
Ilyumzhinov said while opening Chess in Schools international
conference in Yerevan on Friday.

The conference involves delegations from 30 countries, with the
opening ceremony attended by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and
high-ranking guests.

"Recently I was in Mexico. They showed me their national school
curricula and said that they were going to follow Armenia's example
and to make chess a compulsory subject in schools. The same is true
for Paraguay, Mongolia and Thailand. And it was Armenia who initiated
this program," Ilyumzhinov said.

He noted that for most Armenians chess is life. "Armenia is the only
nation that managed to win three Olympiads within just six years.

Even big nations were unable to show such a result," the FIDE
President said.



#6 Yervant1

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Posted 18 October 2014 - 10:37 AM

"CHESS AT SCHOOL" BECOMES ARMENIA'S EDUCATIONAL BRAND

11:14, 17 October, 2014

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 17, ARMENPRESS: For the first time "Chess at School"
international conference has launched in Yerevan with participation
of 180 delegates from 30 countries Armenpress reports.

According to Armenian Minister of Education and Science Armen
Ashotyan, for Armenia the chess is the part of the national pride and
if previously it was only a sport, beginning from 2011 it has become
a compulsory subject at school.

"Armenia is the first country that has included the chess in the
curriculum as a compulsory subject. The Armenian practice is exclusive
and from the very beginning we have created a new, competitive program,
which we are ready to share with the world. For the first time Armenia
can propose to the world the best educational practice.

"Chess at School" project has become one of the educational brands of
Armenia," said Armen Ashotyan, adding that the chess highly contributes
to development of leadership in children, strategic way of thinking,
improves the logic, develops new capacities.

"We do not claim that all pupils become world and European champions,
though we would not be against. Our goal is to improve children's
academic perceptions and advance in other subjects through the chess.

Armenia is the first country in the world where the chess is taught in
secondary schools. The chess subject has been included in curriculums
of secondary schools of Armenia from 2011.

http://armenpress.am...onal-brand.html
 



#7 Ashot

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 07:18 AM

"Recently I was in Mexico. They showed me their national school
curricula and said that they were going to follow Armenia's example
and to make chess a compulsory subject in schools. The same is true
for Paraguay, Mongolia and Thailand. And it was Armenia who initiated
this program," Ilyumzhinov said.

 

History repeats...


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#8 onjig

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Posted 13 November 2014 - 05:36 PM

Ashot, Greetings, It's good to see a fresh posting from you. I've read some of your posts, from years back.


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#9 Ashot

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:17 AM

Thanks onjig jan, it's always good to be back in here! No matter where we go we always return HOME (HyeForum) :-)


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#10 Yervant1

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Posted 18 February 2015 - 10:38 AM

17:35 18/02/2015 » SPORT

UAE seeks to adopt Armenia’s chess teaching methods

The UAE is interested in Armenia’s chess teaching curriculum, Saeed Al Meqbali, President of the UAE Chess Federation, said during a meeting with Armenian Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan. 
Saeed Al Meqbali is paying a working visit to Armenia.
The guests said they consider Armenia’s experience successful, and therefore they want to introduce Chess in School program in the UAE, the press service of the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science reported. 

They added that they expect the Armenian side’s assistance in this matter.
Armen Ashotyan said for his part that Armenia’s Ministry of Education and Science is ready to pass the country’s experience in chess teaching to any country and is open to cooperation.

 
 

Source: Panorama.am



#11 Yervant1

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 10:41 AM

Levon Aronian: How the `David Beckham of chess' became an Armenian national hero

10:52, 01 Feb 2016
Siranush Ghazanchyan

CNN ` When Levon Aronian walks down the street in his street in his
native Armenia he's met by cheering crowds; restaurants insist he eats
for free; new parents name their babies after him.

Aronian isn't an actor, activist, or astronaut. He's a chess player `
the fourth best in the world, to be precise. And in this tiny,
ex-Soviet, chess-obsessed country, that means he's also a national
hero.

`The first time my fiancé arrived in Armenia we stopped at one petrol
station and they said, `OK, we're not going to charge you,'' says the
33-year-old dubbed `The David Beckham of Armenia' by the foreign
press.

`So for her this is pretty shocking ' but that happens all the time,'
he adds, referring to his Australian girlfriend Arianne Caoili, an
international chess champion in her own right whose good looks have
spurred the nickname `The Anna Kournikova of Chess.'

Armenia's chess king

The red carpet treatment of players isn't so far-fetched in a country
where chess is compulsory in all schools. Here, even the nation's
President Serzh Sargsyan is also President of the Armenia Chess
Federation.

For a nation of just three million, Armenia has one of the highest
numbers of grandmasters per capita in the world. Of the past five
Chess Olympiads, the national team has won three times ' led by
noneother than idol Aronian.

`I won't be humble about that,' he adds with a cheeky laugh. And while
Aronian may not have the swagger of a footballer like Beckham, his
playful and sincere charm has only endeared him to a country of
chess-fanatics.

Home-schooled by his scientist parents in what was then the Soviet
Union, Aronian was taught to play chess by his sister as a
nine-year-old ' and turned pro the same year.

These days the chess prodigy spends around four hours a day training.
He usually travels seven months a year ' playing at international
tournaments offering anywhere between a few thousand and over a
million dollars in prize money.

`Chess is like any kind of sport, but taken into a little cage where
you have to understand how his brain works, how his blood flows' '
Levon Aronian.

Armenian grandmasters are also paid around $120 per month from the
government ' a symbolic sum which nonetheless sets it apart from the
rest of the world.

But to really understand the country's love of chess, you must head to
the streets.

`You see people playing chess in cafes, in parks, at family
gatherings, among young and old alike,' says Professor Aram Hajian,
Dean at the College of Science and Engineering at the American
University of Armenia, and co-founder of the Chess Academy of Armenia.

`It's generational ' most of the people I have met who play chess,
when asked, mention a parent or grandfather who introduced them to the
game.'

Nurturing a nation of prodigies

Even for a small and chess-loving nation like Armenia, rolling out the
sport to every single school in 2011 was no easy task.

`The single biggest challenge has been the training of chess
teachers,' explained Hajian.

`There's also integration into the national school curriculum, and
overcoming logistical challenges of equipment and materials.'

For the Armenian government, the benefits of nurturing a nation of
chess players far outweighed the logistical nightmare.

And it's an approach being watched closely by educators around the world.

`Children playing chess are exposed to such topics as strategy,
planning, sacrifice, creativity, logic, and learning how to be a
gracious winner ` and loser,' says Hajian.

`Kids love games, and if you can identify a way to teach all these
topics in the context of a game, I think you have struck upon a
scholastic goldmine.'

The `grandfather of chess'

Armenia's modern-day love affair with chess owes a lot to one man '
1960s world champion Tigran Petrosian.

The moment Petrosian beat Soviet Mikhail Botvinnik to become 1963
World Chess Champion (a title he held until 1969), has been likened
JFK's assassination in America ' everyone in Armenia remembers where
they were at the time.

`The collective euphoria that the nation experienced was a real
watershed moment for the Armenian people,' explained Hajian of the
games which were projected onto giant screens and watched by thousands
in the capital Yerevan's Opera Square.

`At the time, Armenia was one of the smallest constituent republics of
the Soviet Union. While national expression was discouraged by the
Soviet authorities, the rise of Tigran Petrosian galvanized the spirit
of the Armenian nation.'

For a country with such a tumultuous history ' including one of the
most horrific massacres of the 20th century ' chess has now also
become an important source of Armenian national pride.

`We're not just a nation of people who struggle and fight. We're also
a nation of people who can come back to the days of our glory when we
were a big country, a country who set new rules,' explained Aronian.

`When you travel to Armenia you see all those monasteries, all those
universities that are 1,500 years old and you always feel `this is
what we are.' We have been a nation that had a lot of intellectual
capability.

`So I think what drove people to chess, is to bring back the feeling
that we were once a scientific nation.'

And if Aronian is any indication ' it's a winning move.


http://edition.cnn.c...kham/index.html

http://www.armradio....-national-hero/



#12 Yervant1

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 09:03 AM

ITV News, UK
June 7 2017
 
 
Why are children in Armenia being given compulsory chess lessons?
 
 
 
By ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner
 
stream_img.jpg
Armenian pupils are being given compulsory chess lessons Credit: OA
 
It's 8.30am at primary school number two in the centre of Yerevan and I am sitting at the back of a classroom of seven-year-olds, who are bursting to answer the next question and listening to their teacher with rapt attention.
 
I can't quite believe that this enthusiasm is for the game of chess.
 
The children are the first generation of Armenian pupils to be given compulsory chess lessons - and they seem to be totally immersed.
 
Their teacher, Hayk Azizbekyan, a chess champion himself and still studying for his degree in archaeology, says they took just six months to learn how to play.
 
This isn't just about becoming competent chess players, it is a government driven and funded national project to promote chess as essential part of national life.
 
stream_img.jpg
The president is convinced chess is a way of steering this poor country towards a more prosperous future Credit: OA
 
The president is so keen to promote chess and the many advantages it can bring, which it's claimed include improving creativity, strategic thinking and leadership, that he granted us an interview.
 
He's convinced chess is a way of steering this poor country towards a more prosperous and positive future. Basically, a way of shaping the minds of a nation.
 
A grandiose idea you may think?
 
I assumed we would find parents and children who resented having this cerebral pursuit forced upon them in a rather Soviet manner. But we didn't. This is a country that really does seem to believe in chess.
 
They have one of the highest number of chess grandmasters per capita than any other country in the world.
 
Armenia's current leading player Levon Aronian arrives at a chess tournament for children being held in the capital and is surrounded by dozens of young fans and their parents wanting selfies with him.
 
Of course, Aronian can earn more than half a million pounds a year from tournaments alone, in a country where the average monthly wage is around £325 a month.
 
But this passion for chess genuinely seems to be about more than a way to fame and fortune.
 
For the Armenians, a nation that has felt blighted and victimised by the Ottoman empire and then the Soviet Union, it is a way of demonstrating superior intelligence and a talent for winning.
 
On Assignment is on tonight, Wednesday 7th June, at 10:55pm
 
Last updated Wed 7 Jun 2017
 


#13 Yervant1

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Posted 17 October 2017 - 09:51 AM

The Armenian Weekly
Oct 16 2017
 
 
Armenian-American Artist Sets Guinness World Record for Smallest Handmade Chess Set

By Contributor on October 16, 2017

 
 
 

LOS ANGELES (Guinness World Records)—Artist Ara Ghazaryan has an exceptional eye for detail, particularly with his latest work, the world’s smallest handmade chess set.

chess3_tcm25-486535.png

Made on an incredibly minute scale, the entire board with accompanied pieces measures a total of 15.3 x 15.3 mm (0.6 in x 0.6 in), a size that amounts to be smaller than a U.S. quarter coin (Photo: Guinness World Records)

Made on an incredibly minute scale, the entire board with accompanied pieces measures a total of 15.3 x 15.3 mm (0.6 in x 0.6 in), a size that amounts to be smaller than a U.S. quarter coin.

Of the pieces, the Kings stand the tallest at 4.8 mm while the smallest pieces are the pawns, which come to 2.3 mm in height – with the chess set itself weighs 6.63 g.

Guinness World Records guidelines for the record category state that a set has to be exactly to scale and perform the original function as the everyday original.

 

Luckily the artist, who is based in Los Angeles, Calif., designed the board to be playable—so long as opponents keep a steady hand!

Nevertheless, the materials used for crafting the chess set might be the most impressive element to this tiny masterpiece, as the board tiles are made from a luxurious Brazilian cherry wood and 18 Kt. yellow and white gold, while the bottom of the board has small bezel set diamonds located in each corner.

Ara’s incredible feat has beaten a record that has stood since 2008, with the former holder’s board measuring 18 x 18 mm (0.7 x 0.7 in) while its smallest piece measured 4 mm (0.16 in).

https://armenianweek...made-chess-set/



#14 Yervant1

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 03:13 PM

News.am, Armenia

Dec 14 2017
 
 
Armenia to have Scientific Research Institute of Chess
17:58, 14.12.2017
                  
 
default.jpg
 

YEREVAN. – The government of Armenia has allocated 31.9 million drams (about US$66,000) from the reserve fund, for the establishment of the Scientific Research Institute of Chess.

The decision to this effect was adopted at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting of the government.

The Minister of Education and Science, Levon Mkrtchyan, introduced the respective draft decision.

This institute will conduct psychological, sociological, and pedagogical studies in chess education.

To note, President Serzh Sargsyan is also President of the Chess Federation of Armenia.

https://news.am/eng/news/426396.html



#15 Yervant1

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Posted 19 February 2018 - 10:21 AM

BBC, UK
Feb 18 2018
 
 
 
The country breeding a generation of chess whizz kids
  • 18 February 2018
 
 
_100059895_976xkid-writing-in-book-dur.j

Since 2011, all children in Armenia from six to eight years old have had compulsory chess lessons. For one boy it's paying off, reports Emma Levine.

I was trapped. Surrounded on all sides, and there was no escape. The king's capture was imminent - and my bishop was of no use this time. "Shakh yev mat," Mikhael announced triumphantly. Check mate - and my victor was just 11 years old.

It wasn't surprising - a few days earlier Mikhael had been crowned the national schools' chess champion, adding to his other trophies.

He'd been playing since he was five.

"I learned from my father and grandfather - and then, weekly lessons in school," he told me in the family's apartment in Yerevan, Armenia's capital.

_100059894_976xmikhael-beats-emma-in-8.jImage captionMikhael beat Emma in just eight minutes

One of his heroes is compatriot Levon Aronian. This charismatic 35-year-old, one of Armenia's many grandmasters, was once number two in the world - a superstar and national hero in a country not accustomed to sporting success.

Mikhael's mum, Nara, proudly shows me her son's trophies and medals.

"Mikhael wants to be a world champion. He watches international games to perfect his chess," she told me over tiny cups of soorj - strong Armenian coffee. "We don't put pressure on him - it's what he loves doing and that's the most important thing."

Nara travels with her son to all his tournaments, including going abroad.

  _100059893_976xlevon-aronian-world-cup.jImage captionGrandmaster Levon Aronian was number two in the world in 2014

 

 

"I can't beat him any more!" his older brother, Khachatur, tells me ruefully.

"Mikhael has this amazing knack of getting inside an opponent. If he gets beaten he'll analyse their moves and their game, and knows instinctively how to beat them next time.

"And," he adds, "he memorises every game, and recreates it on the board."

The child is constantly making strategic decisions, assessing the situation before making a move - I think this is a great benefit for society Smbat Lputian, President of the Armenian Chess Academy

Mikhael's perseverance is paying off. He's racing up the national chess rankings for youth players. In a couple of years he could be one of the world's youngest-ever grandmasters.

Since 2011, all children in Armenia from six to eight years old have compulsory chess lessons. It's the first country in the world to include it on the national curriculum.

To see more young stars I head to Chess House on a packed marshrutka - or minibus.

Yerevan has an ancient history - it's actually 28 years older than Rome. But there's little evidence of that now. The marshrutka weaves through Republic Square, which is encircled by elegant 20th-Century government buildings and museums built from pink volcanic tufa stone.

But in construction-mad Yerevan, you're never far away from a crane or deafening drill. Recent years have seen the government reneging on its promise to protect historic buildings - embarking instead on urban development on a mammoth scale.

I jump off the marshrutka at Circular Park, a leafy respite.

_100059896_976xold-men-playing-in-park.j

Here, I join a handful of spectators watching several elderly men perch at rickety wooden tables, playing chess with their pals. I head past them to Chess House and the real hub of activity - upstairs in the main hall, rows of long tables are lined with chess sets, with about 200 children deep in play.

The room is silent, the children's behaviour impeccable, with no tantrums or raised voices. All look utterly immersed in the games - which last up to two hours - their faces wearing the serious expressions of professionals. The children record every move in their notebooks.

_100061376_976xback-of-girl-superviso.jpImage captionA supervisor watches children playing games at the chess school

But when 10-year-old Davit makes a blunder, there are tears - and then a motherly arm around his shoulder from Maria, one of the supervisors. "They are just children, after all!" she says, smiling.

Downstairs in the waiting area, scores of parents, grandmothers and a few uncles wait patiently for the children to emerge from the hall, once their matches are over. You can feel tension mounting as each one walks slowly down the carpeted steps to greet their mum. Win lose, or draw, each gets a hug.

_100059897_976xchess-mums-waiting-for-.jImage captionWin, lose, or draw, each child gets a hug when they come out

In the main entrance is a bust of Tigran Petrosian, the chess world champion from 1963 to 1969.

"Armenia has always enjoyed a strong link with chess, but Tigran's victories were the revolution for us," explained Smbat Lputian, president of the Armenian Chess Academy. He shows me around the academy, a smart three-storey building in dazzling white, in a neighbourhood otherwise dominated by Soviet-era grey apartment blocks.

"Since our independence from the USSR in 1991, we have made fantastic progress," he says proudly. With a population of a little over three million, Armenia has one of the highest numbers of chess grandmasters, per capita, in the world.

_100061377_976xtigran-teaching-chess-l.jImage captionChess academy teacher Tigran congratulates a young opponent

Lputian was the driving force behind making chess mandatory in schools, with the support of the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan.

"So what was the main reason?" I asked him.

"The most important quality of chess is that it's a fair game, so young children start learning a game which is clean and honourable, and it teaches them good behaviour. The child is constantly making strategic decisions - assessing the situation before making a move." He paused. "I think this is a great benefit for society as a whole."

Armenia now has more than 3,000 qualified trained chess teachers in its schools. Many other countries want to follow suit, according to Lputian. He tells me excitedly about a new chess scientific research institute, due to open in Yerevan later this year, where scientists and psychologists will research the impact of chess in the learning process.

Through their dedication, Mikhael and thousands more children here have helped put Armenia on the chess-playing map. And at least I can console myself that I was beaten by a potential grandmaster.

All photographs by Emma Levine

http://www.bbc.com/n...tories-43084816



#16 Yervant1

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 10:02 AM

Public Radio of Armenia
July 18 2018
 
 
Palestinian Israeli blogger explores Armenia’s tradition of teaching chess
 
Nas Daily – an Israel-based Palestinian travel blogger, who makes 1-minute videos about himself and others every day – has shared a video about the teaching of chess in Armenia.

“Places like Armenia give me hope for a world where everyone grows up to become grandmasters in whatever they like….all thanks to Education,” the blogger captioned the video on Facebook.

The video features Armenian President Armen Sarkissian and the country’s leading grandmaster Levon Aronian.

“Yes, I am the President of Armenia, and we love chess,” President Sarkissian says.

https://www.armradio...teaching-chess/


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