Sunday, June 19, 2011

Everything you need to know about Armenia

Oh, I think I want to emigrate to Armenia!

One of the world's oldest civilizations, Armenia once included Mount Ararat, which biblical tradition identifies as the mountain that Noah's ark rested on after the flood. It was the first country in the world to officially embrace Christianity as its religion around A.D. 300. (www.infoplease.com)

In building their churches, Armenians made a significant contribution to the world's architectural tradition. They developed the concept of laying out the floor plan of a church in the shape of a cross. This early Christian basilica style was later incorporated into the Gothic architecture of European cathedrals. (www.armeniaemb.org/DiscoverArmenia/)

There is, apparently, some evidence (see featured book) that Armenia may have been the site of the biblical 'Garden of Eden'. You still have doubts about emigrating there? Surely not! Well, if you need a little more convincing - here goes!

Armenia is crazy about chess! Here's a recent extract from Chess Talk on ICC, talking about their most prominent player:

"Levon Aronian has led tiny chess mad Armenia to two Olympiad Golds in 2006 and 2008 and his most recent victory was winning the final Amber Tournament in Monte Carlo. A free 10 minute preview of the show is available for non-members above. To listen to the Levon Aronian two-part interview in full, join the Internet Chess Club (ICC) today by clicking here."

And, from the Daily Telegraph (April 2011):

"Armenia  is to make chess a compulsory subject in primary schools in an attempt to turn itself into a global force in the game, the education ministry said on Friday. "Teaching chess in schools will create a solid basis for the country to become a chess superpower," an official at the ministry, Arman Aivazian, told AFP ... Children from the age of six will learn chess as a separate subject on the curriculum for two hours a week."

Here is an opinion on the subject from an Armenian national, commenting on the 'SlashDot' website (there are 300 comments altogether!):

"I studied 2 years of chess in Armenia, beginning from grade 4 in a 10 year secondary system. Of course, this was during Soviet times and you were allowed to choose from a range of subjects. It wasn't compulsory. My grades in other subjects improved dramatically as a result. Really glad this is happening."

There is more on the subject of chess in schools from the BBC.

From another Daily Telegraph article, we learn the reason for Armenia's obssession with the game:

"The key to understanding why Armenians both love and excel at chess, they said, is a 1963 world championship match featuring the country's most prominent player, the legendary Tigran Petrosian.
Petrosian faced Russian Mikhail Botvinnik in the match and as each move was made it was relayed by telex from Moscow and displayed on a giant board in Yerevan's central Opera Square, where thousands gathered day after day to analyse the moves. 

After 22 games played over nearly two months, Petrosian had scored a decisive victory, prompting massive celebrations and an outpouring of nationalist pride. 

"That was what started it all. It was a fantastic example for the development of chess in Armenia," said Armenia's national chess team coach, Arshak Petrosian, no relation to the legendary player.
Chess quickly became a national obsession and enthusiasm for the game has only grown in the decades since.

So here's a game from Petrosian, showcasing a remarkable "King Walk" - and, from his opponent, ten successive knight moves!



You can see another fine example of Petrosian's chess (against Unzicker in 1960) - complete with another "King Walk" - at 'Chessgames.com'.

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