YEREVAN (ARMENPRESS) — World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian would have turned 84 years today. In a conversation with “Armenpress” former chess champion of Yerevan and Armenia Gagik Hakobian recalled Tigran Petrosian and stated: “Petrosian loved his homeland and compatriots immensely. Living away from the country, he felt the pulse of the capital clearly.” Among other things Gagik Hakobian touched upon Tigran Petrosian’s chess career and highlighted that Petrosian had to face a number of obstacles in his way before becoming champion of the world. In addition Hakobian underscored: “Yes, Tigran Petrosian achived a heroic deed in sport, which demanded robust will and persistence, talent and character.”
Tigran Petrosian was born on June 17, 1929. As a young boy, Petrosian was an excellent student and enjoyed studying, as did his brother Hmayak and sister Vartoosh. He learned to play chess at the age of 8, though his illiterate father Vartan encouraged him to continue studying, as he thought chess was unlikely to bring his son any success as a career. Petrosian was orphaned during World War II and was forced to sweep streets to earn a living.
He used his rations to buy Chess Praxis by Danish grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch, a book which Petrosian would later claim to have had the greatest influence on him as a chess player. He also purchased The Art of Sacrifice in Chess by Rudolf Spielmann. The other player to have had an early effect on Petrosian’s chess was José Raúl Capablanca.
Tigran Petrosian was World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed “Iron Tigran” due to his almost impenetrable defensive playing style, which emphasized safety above all else. Petrosian was a Candidate for the World Championship on eight occasions (1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1980). He won the world championship in 1963 (against Mikhail Botvinnik), successfully defended it in 1966 (against Boris Spassky), and lost it in 1969 (to Spassky). Thus he was the defending World Champion or a World Championship candidate in ten consecutive three-year cycles. He won the Soviet Championship four times (1959, 1961, 1969, and 1975).
Petrosian died of stomach cancer in 1984. In 1987, World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov unveiled a memorial at Petrosian’s grave which depicts the laurel wreath of world champion and an image contained within a crown of the sun shining above the twin peaks of Mount Ararat – the national symbol of Petrosian’s native Armenia. On 7 July 2006, a monument honoring Petrosian was opened in the Davtashen district of Yerevan, on the street named after Petrosian.