Armenia is the first country in the world where teaching chess was included into the school program. Apart from that, strolling anywhere in Armenia, one could meet many people spending their free time playing chess.
What kind of features does chess develop? How does chess develop in Armenia? Finally, why is chess identified with the mindset of Armenians?
Chess psychologist Ruben Aguzumtsyan is surprised that people don’t play chess on the streets anywhere else in the world. Or at least, don’t play as much as the Armenians do. In Armenia, people prefer to spend their time playing chess. Armenians feel chess better because there is a close connection between the game and the Armenian lifestyle, as well as mindset.
“Chess thinking is intrinsic to Armenians. Our nation has gone a highly difficult historical route, always surviving and overcoming thanks to the power of the mind. Chess is one of the manifestations of that mind, and that’s why chess is so popular in Armenia,” says Aguzumtsyan.
Chess improves attention, develops sociability, volitional qualities, as well as teaches the spirit of rivalry. Success, sport, and pleasure are all combined in one idea.
“Chess teaches people to make decisions, be independent: that is, chess develops those mental qualities that are necessary for anyone in their lives,” says Aguzumtsyan. That’s why chess is so valued in Armenia. People don’t have to become grandmasters, but most of the Armenians should be able to play chess.
Former president of Armenia and current president of the Armenian Chess Federation Serzh Sargsyan noted after being reelected to the position of the president of the federation: “My goal is to have five good grandmasters and also 50 thousand people thinking like chess players. Chess teaches to fairly win and fairly lose.”
The first deputy of the president of the Armenian Chess Federation Smbat Lputyan has always been glad about the number of awards the Armenian chess team has been bringing back from competitions. He sometimes couldn’t believe that such a small country can hold such potential. “Over 4 years, we had 120 international victories, of which 67 won a champion title,” says Lputyan. There still is a lot to do in order to popularize chess, but he thinks that this is the right route.
Lputyan also positively rated the change of generations in chess. He assures that current grandmasters will soon be accompanied with younger players. Still, chess masters with years of experience don’t lose their ground in the sport.
by Gohar Sargsyan