By Tatevik Lazarian, and Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Armenia have repeated their own success of two years ago to win the second World Chess Olympiad title in a row at the biannual event in Germany.
The news from Dresden on Tuesday sparked celebrations among chess fans in Armenian capital Yerevan and throughout the country.
Many of them had followed live the final round action between Armenia and China in a closely packed Chess House in central Yerevan. The long-awaited victory was met with prolonged jubilations.
Armenia’s men, the winning team of the previous World Chess Olympiad in Turin in 2006, beat China 2.5-1.5 in the eleventh and final round of the tournament to secure an overall victory in Dresden and heroes’ welcome at home.
Grandmaster Levon Aronian, Armenia’s current No. 1, drew with China’s Wang Yue on the top board, with Vladimir Hakobian, Gabriel Sargsian and Tigran L. Petrosian finishing the job respectively against Bu Xiangzhi, Ni Hua and Li Chao B. Armenia’s only winning point, however, came from Petrosian on the fourth board.
Speaking to RFE/RL from Dresden, Armenian Chess Federation deputy head Vanik Zakarian described the win as fantastic for a small country like Armenia.
“It is a very amazing result, a fantastic result,” he commented.
President Serzh Sarkisian, who also heads Armenia’s Chess Federation, has been in Dresden since Monday to encourage the team before the crucial match against China.
According to Zakarian, Sarkisian had made the symbolic first move for Aronian, who played with black pieces. Before that, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov did the same on behalf of Aronian’s Chinese opponent.
“Our team had been seeded as ninth at this Olympiad. But there is no other team among the Olympiad participants that would have the same solidarity and level of organization. The victory comes very natural,” Zakarian added.
Armenians have traditionally excelled in chess, which is one of the most popular sports in Armenia. The country’s leading players enjoy domestic stardom compared to that of top soccer players abroad.