An extraordinary chess tournament, entitled “Chess to Remember” took place at the Armenian Community Centre in Toronto, on Sunday, September 27. More than 100 chess masters, enthusiasts and young potential future Grand Masters have participated in the tournament. It constituted two CFC (Chess Federation of Canada) rated and one unrated sections. The memorial tournament, organized by the Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union, was dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
“Chess-to-remember” was held as a part of the centennial commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, 1915. April 24 is the official Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
The tournament brought out the top chess talent in Canada including 1 Grand Master, 4 International Masters, 2 Woman International Masters, 5 FIDE Masters, and 7 National Masters. The organizers spared no effort in incorporating the latest chess technology, using special digital boards to broadcast the top matches over designated areas in the Armenian community Center and live broadcasting on the Internet. For most of Canadian players this was the first opportunity to play chess the whole world virtually watching.
Grand Master, Evgeny Bareev came out victorious in the open tournament followed by FIDE Master Michael Song and International Master Kaiqi Yang. Derrick Aghamalian took the first place prize in the under 2000 section followed by Pepin Manalo and Rob Gashgarian. Finally Vadim Khachaturov took the first place prize in the unrated section, followed by Arsen Hacherian and Nikolay Hovhanessyan.
The Armenia Genocide was the planned extermination of a million and half Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turkey. More than two million Armenians were forcibly taken from their homes and villages, men drafted into and murdered in the Ottoman Turkish army, and women, children and the elderly driven into the Syrian deserts where they were starved, tortured and murdered in the cruelest ways. More that 1.5 million Armenian were murdered. Survivors ended up in orphanages and refugee camps across the Middle East and the West. 150 of the genocide orphans, The Georgetown Boys, were brought to Canada starting in 1923 in what became known as Canada’s Noble Experiment.
Tournament organizer Aram Ettibaryan explained, “Remembering the events of the past and paying tribute to those who perished will strengthen our resolve to prevent such events from ever happening again.” Given Armenia’s long history with and success in the world of chess, the tournament served as a way of remembering the victims of the crime as well as showcasing the Armenian People’s resolve and strength to survive and prosper from the ashes that remained after the genocide. In Ettibaryan’s words, “Chess to Remember created an opportunity for us to play a few hundred matches, to make up for the countless games that were never played because of the Genocide ….”
Armenia today is very active on the chess scene, hosting international tournaments, and sending individuals and teams to display its national chess prowess all over the world. Led by its best player, GM Levon Aronian, Armenia has finished first in three of the past 5 Chess Olympiads. With the Republic’s president heading the Chess Federation, the sport has received much official support and was introduced into the school curriculum in 2011. This has not only helped Armenia rise to the top of the chess rankings, but has helped arm the future generation with essential skills.
The tournament was very successful and many participants expressed a hope for having more chess events hosted in the Armenian Community Center and mark Chess-to-Remember as a reoccurring yearly event.
We will continue playing chess to remember…