YEREVAN — Not everyone in life finds their calling, but for 15-year-old Emin Ohanyan, chess has always been an essential part of his existence. His chess journey started at the age 4, when he picked up chess watching his brother play and himself began to play, learning from his grandfather. Eventually, Ohanyan began learning and training at various chess schools throughout Armenia. Today, he is not only training in Armenia, but also competing in chess tournaments at the national and international level, and aspires to be a full time, professional player. Ohanyan asserts that “…one should master what they are passionate about, and for my entire life that has been chess.”
And Ohanyan’s passion, talent, and efforts for the sport speak for themselves. He is already an international master of chess, just one level below a grandmaster, the highest ranking in chess. Of his many victories, some highlights include winning first place in the European U16 Youth Rapid Championship in 2021, winning first place in the 2021 U16 Armenian Chess Championship, and most recently obtaining his first “grandmaster norm” at the Serbia Open Masters 2022, which is a certification of high performance at the grandmaster level. In order to obtain grandmaster status, a player must achieve two or more grandmaster norms in events covering a minimum of 27 games (along with other conditions) — meaning that Ohanyan is nearly at the highest possible title in chess.
Ohanyan, in the long term, hopes he can continue to develop and grow his professional career, and one day become a world champion.
“Chess players sometimes get to the point where they focus on making money rather than developing their skills…and my hopes are that I can become the best player that I can be and not sell out my dream,” he said.
In Armenia, advancing one’s career, despite how embedded it is in the fabric of the nation, is still quite difficult. Ohanyan noted that unlike the case for players in Europe, Armenians have limited opportunities to compete in international tournaments due the geographical and financial constraints of attending and participating. As a result, many players in Armenia with potential don’t get the opportunity to obtain higher titles and compete in more challenging, international competitions to advance their careers. Thus, as a player from Armenia, the stakes for being able to partake in tournaments abroad are even higher for Ohanyan, but he states that he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“It’s a big responsibility to represent your country, when you know thousands of people will be watching and that your victory is never really yours alone. I will always want to be under our flag and share my achievements with my country,” he noted.