Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian again congratulated Armenians on the “glorious victory” as his cabinet allocated 45 million drams in award money to the national Chess Federation.
The federation headed by President Serzh Sarkisian will distribute the sum to the five grandmasters and their coach Arshak Petrosian who represented Armenia in the championship held in the Chinese city of Ningbo last month.
The prestigious title was contested by the national teams of the world’s ten leading chess nations, including Russia, Ukraine, India and Azerbaijan.
The Armenian team led by Levon Aronian, the world’s third highest ranked chess player, dominated throughout the 12-day tournament, winning five games and drawing the four others.
The Armenian players received a hero’s welcome upon their return home. Thousands of people greeted them at a late-night ceremony organized in Yerevan’s Liberty Square and broadcast live by state television on July 28.
Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian plays chess during a visit to a youth camp in Lake Sevan, 21Aug2011.
The team mostly consisted of players who won two consecutive world Chess Olympiads in 2006 and 2008. Those victories earned them domestic stardom comparable to the popularity of the world’s leading athletes.
Chess has been one of Armenia’s most popular sports ever since Tigran Petrosian, a Tbilisi-born Armenian, became a world champion in 1963. The country currently boasts one of the largest per-capita numbers of chess grandmasters in the world.
President Sarkisian has actively promoted the ancient game while in office. Earlier this year, his government decided to make chess a mandatory subject in primary schools.
The country’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who now leads the main opposition Armenian National Congress, is also a keen chess player.