Officials in Armenia think chess can ensure success for the next generation. It is slated to become a mandatory subject in Armenian elementary schools when the new academic year begins in the fall.
Chess is already considered a national obsession. “There is not a single parent in Armenia who wouldn’t like their child to learn how to play chess,” asserted Narine Hovhannisian, director of the Ministry of Education and Science’s Department of Secondary Education. “Chess is the right thing for us Armenians.”
Nationwide, enthusiasm for the game is now at a fever pitch following Armenia’s gold-medal performance at the 2011 World Team Chess Championship in Ningbo, China. During the July 15-26 event, Armenia’s five-member, all-male national team scored five victories over China, Egypt, Hungary, India and Israel, and played to a draw with Russia, the United States, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. The victory marks Armenia’s third chess world championship since 2006.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan.