Why You Should Celebrate The Legacy Of Petrosian Today
Well before becoming the world champion, a young Petrosian studies the chessboard on April 9, 1956. Wikimedia Commons.

Why You Should Celebrate The Legacy Of Petrosian Today


Tigran Petrosian (1929-1984) was born 90 years ago today. When he was World Champion (1963-1969), I began to cultivate my interest in chess. I attribute much of my early fascination with the game to his unbreakable defensive style of playing that led to the nickname of “Iron Tigran.”

Statue of Petrosian
This statue of Petrosian, erected five years after he died, stands outside the chess house named in his honor in the city of Yerevan, Armenia. Wikipedia.

The legacy of Petrosian is still influential across the globe but particularly in his homeland. A country of about 3 million people, the Republic of Armenia boasts one of the highest levels of GMs per capita. It won the World Team Championship in 2011 and has won the World Chess Olympiad three times. One of the strongest chess nations, Armenia was the first country to make chess a mandatory part of primary school curriculum. It is compulsory in the second, third and fourth grades. (I would have loved chess instruction at that age.)

Postage stamp
This Armenian postage stamp commemorates the country’s victory in the 2012 World Chess Championship. Wikimedia Commons.

Several years ago, GM Daniel Naroditsky analyzed Petrosian’s best technical knockouts for Chess.com. In the following game, one of my favorites, Petrosian offers a sacrifice with devastating results for his opponent, IM Paul Vaitonis (with notes by GM Naroditsky).

One of Petrosian’s most amazing games was in 1971 in Buenos Aires versus Bobby Fischer that ended Fischer’s consecutive run of 20 victories. The following video brings this game back to life.

To commemorate the birthdate of Petrosian, GM Levon Aronian, the leading Armenian chess player since the early 2000s and a recipient of the title of Honored Master of Sport of the Republic of Armenia, tweeted about Petrosian today, “An absolute mystery of a player, equally gifted in all fields of chess, but mostly preferred a kind of sleepy approach just to explode when his opponents didn’t expect it.” (Incidentally, Aronian just finished sharing second place in the 2019 Altibox Norway Chess tournament. Final results of the tournament results were recently reported in the article “Norway Chess: Caruana Beats Carlsen In Last Round Armageddon.”)

The Tigran Petrosian Chess House is the center of chess in Yerevan, Armenia. Wikimedia Commons.

One of my favorite quotations by Petrosian is, “I have a weakness for any piece in excess of my opponent’s numbers—from pawn to queen." His thoughts and games still inspire me.

Thanks for reading! (If you like this article, please click above to follow this blog.) What game or quote by Petrosian is memorable for you?