Sport: Early victories and defeats for Armenia in 2010

Chess: Team Armenia, the winner of the last two World Chess Olympiads (2006 and 2008), were going strong until Round 6 at the continuing World Team Championships in Bursa, Turkey, when they suffered a surprise defeat to the Hellenic team.

Three rounds before the end of the tournament, Armenia (led by current N5 FIDE ranked player Levon Aronyan and including Vladimir Hakobyan, Gabriel Sargsyan and Arman Pashikyan on the 2nd to 4th boards, and two reserve players Tigran L. Petrosyan and Tigran Kotanjyan) has 13 points and shares the 4th-5th places with Israel. Russia and the USA lead with 15.5 points, Azerbaijan is third with 13.5 points.

(Ten teams are taking part in the championships held 3-14 January. Among Armenia’s competitors are Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Israel, the United States, India, Egypt, Brazil and Greece).

Armenia started the tournament with a painful defeat to Azerbaijan (1 ½ to 2 ½) in the opening round on January 5, but recovered quickly by beating the strong Israeli team (2 ½ to 1 ½), and then routing the tournament host Turkey 3 ½ to ½. Armenia also registered a victory over Brazil (2 ½ to 1 ½), drew with India 2-2 and suffered a disappointing 1-3 defeat to Greece.

(Armenia’s win over Turkey was taken with jubilation by Armenians who saw it as a revenge of sorts of the Armenian Chess Federation, incidentally led by President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, for the two defeats suffered by Armenia’s national soccer team in the latest World Cup qualifying games against Turkey, including the defeat in Bursa on October 14 last year. Those defeats wounded the ego of Armenian soccer fans who refused to admit the gulf of class between the two nations in soccer in which Armenians had good traditions in Soviet times. Sargsyan and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul used the occasion of the soccer encounters to promote relations between the two estranged neighbors – the outcome of this ‘soccer diplomacy’, unlike the soccer matches already played, is yet to become clear).

For the latest results and team standings visit the Championship’s official website at http://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr/

Basketball: The 2009 sporting sensation, Hatis Yerevan, will need to score a victory and eliminate an 11-point deficit when they step onto the court in Orenburg, Russia, to play against local Nadezhda in the second leg of the 2009/2010 Euro League 1/16 finals game Thursday.

In the first game between the two teams on January 7, in front of their home fans in Yerevan, the revived women’s basketball team Hatis lost to the visiting Russians 80-69.

Hatis, helped by international players from Serbia, Croatia, Georgia, Ukraine, the United States, Jamaica, provided a sensation at the end of last year by qualifying to playoffs from Group F in the European Basketball Cup. This is the first time Hatis is participating in any serious competition in the last 20 years or so.

On the way to the success, fuelled by the revived interest of local fans and several corporate sponsors, the team representing the Armenian capital twice beat the Turkish team Besiktas to the delight of the growing army of its supporters. Hatis also celebrated a home victory over a Russian team, Chevakata, eventually finishing second in the Group next to the strong Greek side, Sony Athinaikos.

While one of Hatis leaders Maurita Reid left the team, two new players joined it during the holiday break. They are Amanda Jackson from the United States and Nigerian Adeola Olanrevau.

Hatis head coach Gia Ghazanchyan hopes his team is capable of achieving a good result in the second-leg game and progress to the next stage.