Sport: Armenia has new chess champs, sport minister

Grandmaster Avetik Grigoryan has become the winner of Armenia’s 70th men’s chess championships and may be joining the nation’s Chess Olympiad team in defending their title in Russia in September. Meanwhile, Anahit Kharatyan became the winner of Armenia’s 65th chess championships among women.

In the ten-man tournament that ended on Saturday Grigoryan, 20, did better than many of his competitors who had higher individual ratings. (Though, Armenia’s four leading players, including Levon Aronyan, Gabriel Sargsyan, Vladimir Hakobyan and last year’s national champion Arman Pashikyan did not participate in this year’s championships).

Grigoryan finished on top with 7 ½ points -- two points clear of the second, third and fourth placed chess masters Tigran Petrosyan, Zaven Andreasyan and Artashes Minasyan. The new champion’s progress and increased rating may make him eligible to participate in Team Armenia – currently double Olympic champion (2006, 2008) in the biannual World Olympiad to be held in Khanty-mansiysk, Russia, in September.

In an unrelated development, President Serzh Sargsyan accepted the resignation tendered by Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Armen Grigoryan, who held the post since 2007.

As reported by the presidential press service, by another decree on Friday President Sargsyan appointed Artur Petrosyan, a nominee by the Prosperous Armenia party that holds the ministerial portfolio, to succeed Grigoryan as minister.

Petrosyan, who was an MP in 2003-2007, served as head of the Labor Inspection before his latest appointment. He became a member of Prosperous Armenia in 2009.

Neither the Prosperous Armenia party led by tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan, who also heads the country’s National Olympic Committee, nor the former minister himself have yet given reasons for the reshuffle.