Armenia makes chess compulsory for school children
Armenia, one of the world players in chess, has made it mandatory in school for ages seven to nine.
Armenian authorities say teaching chess in school is about building character, not breeding chess champsPhoto: GETTY IMAGES
8:02AM GMT 16 Nov 2011
Chess is a national obsession in the country of three million.
The passion was fostered in modern times by the exploits of chess champion Tigran Petrosian, who won the world championship in 1963 and then successfully defended his title three years later.
In July, a six-person national squad came first at the World Team Chess Championship in Ningbo, China. The returning players and their coach were greeted as heroes and collectively awarded $20,000 (£12,600). That group included up-and-coming player Levon Aronian, 28, who is currently rated third in the World Chess Federation's rankings.
Armenian authorities say teaching chess in school is about building character, not breeding chess champs.
The education minister says taking the pastime into classrooms will help nurture a sense of responsibility and organization among schoolchildren, as well as serving as an example to the rest of the world.
"We hope that the Armenian teaching model might become among the best in the world," Armen Ashotyan told The Associated Press.
Half a million dollars were allocated to the national chess academy to draw up a course, create textbooks, train instructors and buy equipment. Another $1 million went toward buying furniture for chess classrooms.
Eight-year-old chess whiz David Ayrapetyan said he wants an opponent worthy of his skills
His father, Arman, is happy to put up with the boy's incessant pleas for him to find better opponents. He thinks chess is good for him no matter what the future holds.
"Even if he doesn't become a grandmaster, chess will teach him to think logically and improvise, as those are indispensable qualities in life," he said.