First Time Winners
Despite Levon Aronian’s transfer to the United States, Armenia still ranks tenth in the list of top chess federations, which uses the average individual rating of the top 10 players from each country. This is a remarkable statistic considering the fact that the landlocked country has a population that does not even reach 3 million. Let’s not forget that, in its best period, the national chess team won the Olympiad three times in eight years!
With eleven players ranked above 2600 in the country – although they no longer boast over 2700 players – it’s no surprise that the National Open Championship is a hard-fought event. The 82nd edition featured five of those more than 2,600 players, with Samvel Ter-Sahakyan arriving in the nation’s capital as the top seed.
While the open event featured 12 players this year, the women’s tournament had 10 players in the roster. Both championships were simple round robin tournaments with classic time control. No rest days were included in the schedule for the women’s event.
In the end, fourth seed Manuel Petrosyan won the open championship, while seeded favorite Mariam Mkrtchyan won the women’s title. Both players became national champions for the first time in their careers.
Manuel Petrosyan, 23-year-old grandmaster
Petrosyan’s mid-tournament streak
With just three rounds to go in the open championship, the eventual winner had a one-point lead over Shant Sargsyan. Petrosyan came on after winning five straight, including three with the white pieces.
After pulling Tigran Harutyunyan in round 9, Petrosyan suffered his first loss, as he lost in the penultimate round to Tigran L. Petrosian, allowing Haik Martirosyan and Shant Sargsyan to enter the final day of half a point behind the long-time leader.
The three players vying for the title got the black pieces in the last round, and they all won! Petrosyan defeated Arman Mikaelyan to clinch the title.
The 2022 champion showed good late game technique to prove that two well-coordinated minor pieces are often stronger than a rook. Petrosyan needed 17 strokes to convert the above position into a victory that earned him his first national title.
|2||GM||Martirosyan Haik M.||2621||7.5||37.75|
|6||GM||Harutyunyan Tigran K.||2552||5.5||29.50|
|seven||I AM||Gharibyan Mamikon||2467||5.0||27.50|
|ten||I AM||Shahinyan David||2486||4.0||18.50|
|11||GM||Petrossian Tigran L.||2573||3.5||18.75|
All games available
Mkrtchyan defeats Gevorgyan to clinch title
Just like in the open event, the women’s champion won the title thanks to a victory with the black pieces in the last round. Mariam Mkrtchyan tied for first place with Maria Gevorgyan – and the two co-leaders faced off in the final round of the event!
White is a pawn in this bishop vs. knight endgame, but black’s king is much more active than his counterpart and white has his queenside pawns stuck on dark squares — i.e. the white bishop cannot protect.
In the position above, the engines show that White’s best defensive alternative is 44.Bb5, whereas after Gevorgyan 44.Ba2 Black has a clear advantage. Mkrtchyan needed about 5 minutes to figure out that patiently marching with his king to the queen wing was the right path to victory – he followed 44…Kd3 45.Bb1+ Kd2 46.Kh3 Kc1
Black doesn’t need to worry about his opponent’s setter on the d-file, because white can’t both defend against potential promotion to queenside while protecting his own middle setter. Mkrtchyan got a new queen at move 56, but given the tournament situation his opponent continued to play in a completely lost position until move 63.
There was no miracle, which meant Mkrtchyan got the national title no matter what on the remaining boards!