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Saluting a ‘Chess Playing’ nation Part II

by Praful Zaveri - 19/10/2016

FI Praful Zaveri sent us a beautiful part I of his report from Armenia which covered the Chess in Schools (CIS) program that he attended. In part II he speaks about the one of its kind Chess Academy of Armenia. This Academy located on the 34th Shevchenko Street is one of the largest Chess Academies in the world. Praful not only stayed in the academy for two days, but also visited the strong Yerevan International Open. As he says, no matter where you go, how so ever remote the place is, there is always an Indian playing!

Chess Academy of Armenia


Any chess lover is sure to be left spellbound by the first look at the ‘Chess Academy of Armenia’ situated at the junction of 34th Shevchenko Street in Yerevan. This three storey building is one of the standalone chess academy, which has infrastructure confirming to international stature to conduct its chess activities.

Yes, that's an entire building dedicated to chess! The Chess Academy of Armenia was founded in 2002 in Yerevan by the initiative of GM Smbat Lputian, supported by the Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan.

Before we take a visual tour of the academy, let us have a look at the vision of GM Smbat Lputian, who was instrumental for birth of this academy:

The idea to found a chess academy in Armenia was suggested by GM Smbat Lputian in 1996. It was an important step: many of first-class chess players had left the country; the question of the promising successors required an urgent solution. The academy was to gather the best Armenian young chess players and trainers. It was to encourage the talented youth of Armenia in continuing the tradition of excellence in the game of chess.


The academy's mission was to create an optimal environment for the improvement of students' professional chess skills, as well as to publicize the game of chess throughout Armenia. The realization of the project demanded the solution of financial and other problems. Being informed about this objective, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Mr. Andranik Margaryan became interested and promised to support it. With his assistance obstacles in the path of the realization of the idea were overcome.


The Chess Academy of Armenia is one of the leading chess-teaching institutions in the country. The Academy has organized many International and National tournaments. Several of the outstanding students have attained various achievements, including International Grandmaster and Master Norms, three gold and two silver medals in European Championships, and various other accolades. Five of the Academy's students have obtained the GM title, as well as medals at the World Junior Championships.

The Academy has about 50 branches both in Yerevan (head office) and various regions of the Republic of Armenia. Plans are presently under way to establish branches outside of Armenia as well.

It is indeed a pride for a country and its chess players that top leaders of the country really want to do something unique for chess!

On entering the building you are sure to get engulfed in the aroma of chess atmosphere, as you are greeted by a giant chess garden with a combination of green grass and white stone!

The ground floor of the academy houses its administrative office, a sitting room for parents from where one can relax when their child is undergoing training or can watch live games during a tournament. Our experience of soaking in chess atmosphere continues as we see some wonderful chess painting, pictures of great chess legends.

Paintings on the wall of the Academy

Photos of players, officials, and moments that give you a nice feel
Tigran Petrosian: The Armenian government has issued many postal stamps to honour this legend

The top Armenian player Levon Aronian (photo by Amruta Mokal)

The first and second floors are earmarked as training rooms of the academy. It was really nice to see little children learning chess. The academy also has around 25 rooms to the cater to the visitors and I was privileged to stay there for one day.

The beautiful playing hall of the Armenian chess Academy

The view from my room

I was really lucky as the international chess conference coincided with the Yerevan International Open, which was held in the giant tournament hall on the top floor of the academy.

This $15,000 prize money tournament had attracted 138 players from ten countries including 21 Grandmasters and nine International Masters, and that the event was inaugurated by the President of Armenia speaks of its popularity!

Flags of all the countries that took part in the Yerevan International Open

And, when you come to an international tournament, you are bound to see an Indian playing regardless of the fact that the event is held in the remotest part of the world!

I was really pleased to see GM Sandipan Chanda playing the event! 

Though, his performance was below par, here we see one of his very interesting game from round two against the Iranian, Mohammadamin Molaei (White). 

[Event "Yerevan Open 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.10.03"]
[Round "2.6"]
[White "Mohammadamin, Molaei"]
[Black "Sandipan, Chanda"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E10"]
[PlyCount "100"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:38:35"]
[BlackClock "1:05:21"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. e3 Be7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Qc2 b6 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3
c5 9. O-O Nc6 10. a3 c4 11. Be2 Na5 12. Nd2 g6 13. b3 cxb3 14. Nxb3 Bf5 15. Qd1
Rc8 16. Bd2 Nc4 17. Bxc4 Rxc4 18. Nc1 Qc7 19. N1e2 Rc8 20. Qb3 a6 21. Rfc1 b5
22. Nf4 Bd6 23. g3 Qc6 24. Kg2 g5 25. Nfe2 Qd7 26. Ng1 g4 27. Nge2 Bd3 28. Qd1
Qf5 29. Be1 Bxa3 {This might not be the strongest move in the position but it
looks aesthetically pleasing. Black wants to execute a check on f3 on the
kingside but first he diverts the rook on a1 on the other side of the board!} (
29... Qf3+ 30. Kg1 Bf5 $19 {With the idea of Ne4 is also very strong. It is
very difficult to prevent this.}) 30. Rxa3 Qf3+ 31. Kg1 Bxe2 32. Qxe2 Qxe2 33.
Nxe2 Rxc1 34. Nxc1 Rxc1 35. Kf1 Rc6 {The rest as they say is matter of
technique. Black is a pawn up and has two outside passers. Sandipan didn't
have too many problems converting this.} 36. Ra2 Ne4 37. Bb4 Rc1+ 38. Ke2 Rh1
39. Rxa6 Rxh2 40. Ra8+ Kg7 41. Rd8 Rxf2+ 42. Kd3 Rf5 43. Rb8 Nxg3 44. Bf8+ Kg6
45. Bd6 Ne4 46. Rg8+ Kh5 47. Bf4 Kh4 48. Ke2 Kh3 49. Kf1 h5 50. Ra8 g3 0-1

I would like to share a small coincidence – I passed my trainer’s examination at Singapore in 2007 when Sandipan was playing in the Singapore International Open (I think he had secured third position in spite of the losing the last round) and we had a great time by going on a hot air balloon ride on the last day. What a view of the city we were treated to! Here too, in Yerevan, we spent quality time by discussing lot of chess over lunch, dinner and breakfast.


A super GM, Sandipan is a wonderful personality and treasure house of chess knowledge. It was fun to interact with him and I was fortunate to get insights into the working of a top grandmaster's mind! He is coming for the IIFL Open 2016 in December and we are all privileged to have his participation.

 I also met Ashot Vardapetyan (right), who was the chief arbiter of the Carlsen-Anand Match in Chennai 2013. Here he is standing with one of his colleagues.

Besides, Sandipan I was fortunate to see legendary grandmasters like Rafael Vaganian, Sergei Tiviakov and young promising talents like Alireza Firouza of Iran.

Author of this article with one of the best young talents in the world: IM Alireza Firouzja from Iran

IM Sagar Shah had made all efforts to have participation of Alireza in the last edition of the IIFL Juniors. However, with the Iranian Nationals clashing he could not make it. We are sure to have him this time in our event!


I hope that, you dear reader, are also coming to the 2nd IIFLW International Open that is going to take place in Mumbai from the 26th of December 2016 to 3rd January 2017. You can get all the information from this article that was published on ChessBase India a few days ago.


About the Author

FI Praful Zaveri is the founder of Indian Chess School Academy. He is a popular trainer in Mumbai and also the author of the critically acclaimed Chess Course book for beginners. His vision is to build the chess culture in his hometown Mumbai as well as India and help the country produce many more grandmasters in future.

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