Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian made the first symbolic move opening an international chess tournament in Berlin, Germany, that will decide the challenger to the world champion.
As a guest of honor Sarkisian attended the Saturday opening of the World Chess Candidates Tournament bringing together eight leading chessmen, including top Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian.
The winner of the tournament to be held through March 28 will play against reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen from Norway later this year.
In his remarks at the event Sarkisian, who also heads the Armenian chess federation, emphasized the role of chess also for Armenia.
“Though Armenia is not one of the world’s largest countries for its small size and population, many consider it to be a chess superpower, since the national team of small Armenia, of which the current contender Levon Aronian is also a member, three times won at chess Olympiads and once won a world title during recent years,” the Armenian leader said, as quoted by his press office.
Sarkisian stressed that Armenia became the world’s first nation to include chess as a subject in the school curriculum. “I can state with great pleasure that our society welcomed the idea with great enthusiasm, and some positive results can already be felt. And I am happy indeed to see that the Chess in Schools program is being introduced in other countries as well,” he said.
Sarkisian said that the world’s first chess research institute was inaugurated in Armenia this year. “We hope that the institute’s activities will help reveal the undiscovered aspects of the game of chess,” he said.
The president of Armenia wished good luck to all candidates competing in the tournament. “Let the strongest win,” Sarkisian said.