Tigran Petrosian was a legendary chess champion, an Armenian hero, and a creative genius. The legacy of Petrosian is at the same time profound and multifaceted. To Armenians around the world and in Armenia alike, Petrosian symbolized the overcoming of the difficulties faced by the Armenian nation, a nation which survived Genocide, the horrors of Stalin, and global dispersion to cheer their favorite son toward victory. For Armenians everywhere he embodied achievement of excellence in chess, the most intellectual and competitive of games.
The boy who was born in Tiflis, embraced in Armenia, rose to the heights in Moscow, and loved by his compatriots around the world. He was a unique figure in modern Armenian history, and his relationship to Armenians around the world was similarly distinctive. After he lost both parents before he was 16, Petrosian became the adopted son of Armenians everywhere. Though some of his compatriots around the world had no particular understanding of the game of chess, they would flock to his tournaments held in the farthest reaches around the globe - from South America to Europe, from the Soviet Union to the USA. Everywhere, Petrosian was greeted with fanfare, exhilaration and cheer.
His chess style was enigmatic, misunderstood, underappreciated. He died much too young, living life with passion and exuberance until cancer took him from us much too prematurely. Like any world champion, his legacy is immortal, his games are unique creations which will be loved forever, and we are the lucky ones to benefit from his genius.
It is appropriate that the Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk, Armenia is held in Petrosian’s honor, on the occasion of his 80th anniversary. He would most definitely be present at this event, encouraging all participants to achieve the greatest heights in the game he loved.