BBC lecture: Armenia, the cleverest nation on earth.
17.09.2010 – Next Tuesday the 39th Chess Olympiad begins in Khanty Mansiysk, with Russia is the favourite in all categories. But wait – who won the last two? It was Armenia, a tiny country with a total population less than a third that of Moscow. How is that possible – is it something in the water? Gabriel Gatehouse of the BBC tries to answer this question in a wonderfully interesting BBC World Service broadcast.
LISTEN TO THE BBC BROADCAST: ARMENIA THE CLEVEREST NATION ON EARTH
Armenia: the cleverest nation on earth WARNING-Those that deal in business with Armenia don’t forget this and don’t forget we will always stick together and defend one another.
Armenia, a tiny, poor country of around three million people, has won the chess Olympics twice in a row. In so doing, it has triumphed over giants like Russia, China and the US. Chess is pursued fanatically in many parts of the world, but nowhere more so than Armenia, where its over-the-board stars have become national celebrities.
But how has little Armenia created a nation of chess geniuses; is there something in the water? Assignment investigates.
Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Armenia today is a unitary, multiparty, democratic nation-state in a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.
Armenia has an ancient and historic cultural heritage. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its religion in the early years of the 4th century. The modern Republic recognizes the Armenian Apostolic Church as the national church of Armenia, although the republic has separation of church and state.
The top player today in Armenia is Levon Aronian, who turns 28 just after the Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk (6th October is his birthday. His current Elo rating is 2783, making him number four behind Carlsen, Topalov and Anand. Aronian won the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2009, qualifying him for the
Candidates tournaTigran Vartanovich Petrosian, June 17, 1929 – August 13, 1984, was World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed “Iron Tigran” due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else. He was a Candidate for the World Championship eight times: 1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1980, winning the title in 1963 against Botvinnik and successfully defending it in 1966 against Spassky, against whom he lost it in 1969. Petrosian was arguably the hardest player to beat in the history of chessment for the World Chess Championship 2012.
This article and radio show was FANTASTIC, but it had me wondering why Garry Kasparov the most CELEBRATED and famous Chess player was not included–After all he is 1/2 Armenian?? Ok Ok, so I asked my favorite go to person on Armenology…The answer he gave me was credible. Garry Kasparov was born Garry Weinstein to a Yahudi father and an Armenian mother. When Garry’s father past away, Garry proudly took the name of his mother Kasparian (but it was Russified with “ov” and it seems the Garry was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. Not Armenia. Maybe the article by BBC should read “Armenians the cleverest people on earth”.
I know several people that cringe having to do business with Armenians. They have told me they didn’t even know the Armenian got the best of them until they hung up the phone and then realized they had been “had”. Here is a short bio of Garry Kasparov.
Garry Kimovich Kasparov (Russian: Га́рри Ки́мович Каспа́ров, Russian pronunciation: [ˈɡarʲɪ ˈkʲiməvʲɪtɕ kɐˈsparəf]; born Garry Kimovich Weinstein, 13 April 1963) is a Russian (formerly Soviet) chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, whom many consider the greatest chess player of all time.
Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22. He held the official FIDE world title until 1993, when a dispute with FIDE led him to set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association. He continued to hold the “Classical” World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. He is also widely known for being the first world chess champion to lose a match to a computer, when he lost to Deep Blue in 1997.
Kasparov’s ratings achievements include being rated world #1 according to Elo rating almost continuously from 1986 until his retirement in 2005 and holding the all-time highest rating of 2851. He was the world number-one ranked player for 255 months, by far the most of all-time and nearly three times as long as his closest rival, Anatoly Karpov. He also holds records for consecutive tournament victories and Chess Oscars.
Garry Kasparov was born Garry Weinstein (Russian: Гарри Вайнштейн) in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union; now Azerbaijan, to an Armenian mother and Jewish father. He first began the serious study of chess after he came across a chess problem set up by his parents and proposed a solution. His father died of leukemia when he was seven years old. At the age of twelve, he adopted his mother’s Armenian surname, Gasparyan, modifying it to a more Russified version, Kasparov.
From age 7, Kasparov attended the Young Pioneer Palace in Baku and, at 10 began training at Mikhail Botvinnik‘s chess school under noted coach Vladimir Makogonov. Makogonov helped develop Kasparov’s positional skills and taught him to play the Caro-Kann Defence and the Tartakower System of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Kasparov won the Soviet Junior Championship in Tbilisi in 1976, scoring 7 points of 9, at age 13. He repeated the feat the following year, winning with a score of 8½ of 9. He was being trained by Alexander Shakarov during this time.