Tigran Kotanjian wins 3rd Karen Asrian Memorial

10/16/2010 – Spoiler: that's not him in our thumbnail, but a warrior carved in stone by the Jermuk lake. The third anniversary tournament for Karen Asrian, who died in June 2008 at the age of 28, was staged in the health resort in southern Armenia, and was won by seventh seed Tigran Kotanjian. Participants Siranush Andriasian and Liana Aghabekyan sent us a big illustrated report.

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3rd Karen Asrian Memorial

From 4 to 14 October with the organization of Armenian Chess Federation the Third Annual Karen Asrian Memorial was held in Jermuk, Armenia. The tournament attracted players from Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, Georgia, Russia including international strong grandmasters and masters. Armenian GM Tigran Kotanjian took the lead after the fourth round and didn’t cede his position till the end of the tournament. After short draw in the last round with David Maghalashvili from Georgia, Kotanjian became the winner of the third annual Asrian Memorial (7.0/9 points). The winner was followed by four players with 6.5 points. K. Shanava and S. Volkov took the second and third places respectively. Nazi Paikidze was the first among women.

The winner Tigran Kotanjian commented one of his victories.

Kotanjian,Tigran (2522) - Petrosian,David (2487) [E97]
Third Annual Memorial of Karen Asrian (7), 10.10.2010 [Tigran Kotanjian]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5. David again chose a variation played by us five years ago, still believing in the resources of his position. However, I had prepared a poisonous novelty. 8...Ne7 9.b4 a5 10.Ba3 axb4 11.Bxb4 b6 12.a4 Re8 13.Qd3 Nf5. David's novelty in 2005 14.a5 bxa5 15.Rxa5 [15.Bxa5 was possible too: 15...Ba6 (15...Bd7!?) 16.Nxe5! Rxe5 17.exf5+/=] 15...Rb8 16.Nb5 Nd4 17.Nfxd4 [17.Ra7?! Nxd5!] 17...exd4 18.f3 Nh5. 18...Nd7!? is a more interesting move, leading to vivid game.

19.Bd2! My novelty! Five years ago I played 19.g3 in this position. According to computer 19.g3 gives some advantage to White; however deep analysis shows that Black can get counterplay.

19...Qh4. With the idea Be5 20.f4! 20.Nxc7 Be5 unclear. 20...f5 21.Nxd4! Rb2. This move was unexpected for me. There were three more possibilities for Black; however they lead to a worse position. 21...Rxe4 22.Nc6 Rb2 23.Bxh5 gxh5 24.Ra8+- Re8 25.g3 Qf6 26.Re1 Black has no defence against Rc8 and Ne7.; 21...Bxd4+ 22.Qxd4 Rxe4 23.Qa7! Rb7 24.Qa8 Re8 25.Bxh5 White's attack on black squares is decisive.; 21...fxe4 22.Qe3 White has a big positional advantage. 22.Bxh5! Qxh5 23.Bc3 Rb7. 23...fxe4 is not good because of 24.Qe3 Bxd4 25.Qxd4 Rxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Bh3+ 27.Kh1+-; 23...Rb8 24.Ra7 Rb7 25.Ra8.

24.Ra8! pointing out the weakness of the c8 square. 24.exf5 Bxf5 with good chances of salvation. 24...fxe4 25.Qe3 Qh4 26.f5?! 26.Ne6! Bxc3 27.Qxc3 Qe7 28.f5 gxf5 29.Rxf5 (29.Qg3+? Kh8 30.Rxf5 Rb1+ 31.Kf2 e3+!=) 29...Rb1+ 30.Kf2 Qh4+ 31.Ke2 Qg4+ 32.Ke3!+–. 26...Be5? 26...Bh6! 27.Qe2 Bf4 28.Nf3 Qh6! I didn't consider this move, after which White's advantage diminishes. (28...Qg4 29.h3 Qg3 30.Be1; 28...Qd8 29.fxg6! hxg6 30.Nd4 Qh4 31.g3 Bxg3 32.hxg3 Qxg3+ 33.Qg2 Qxc3 34.Qxg6++-). 27.g3+- Qf6 28.fxg6 Qxf1+. 28...Qxg6 29.Nc6 Black has no defence against White's threats Rc8, Ne7 and Be5. 29.Kxf1 Bh3+ 30.Ke2 Bg4+ 31.Kd2 Rxa8 32.gxh7+ Kh8 33.Qg5 [33.Qxe4!? could win easier] 33...c5 34.Nb5 Bxc3+ 35.Nxc3 [35.Kxc3] 35...Rg7 36.Qf6 Bf3 37.g4 e3+ 38.Kxe3 Bxg4 39.Ne4 Ra3+ 40.Kd2 Ra2+ 41.Kc3 Ra3+ 42.Kb2 Rf3 43.Qd8+ Kxh7 44.Qh4+ Kg8 45.Nf6+ Kf8 46.Qh8+ Kf7 47.Nxg4 Rf4 1-0. [Click to replay]

# Title Player Nat. Rtng Pts TB1 TB2 Perf
1 GM Kotanjian Tigran ARM 2522 7.0 42.5 45.5 2622
2 GM Shanava Konstantine GEO 2566 6.5 47.0 50.5 2616
3 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2595 6.5 46.5 51.0 2579
4 IM Maghalashvili Davit GEO 2455 6.5 44.0 48.0 2513
5 GM Vorobiov Evgeny E RUS 2565 6.5 41.0 45.0 2478
6 GM Ter-Sahakyan Samvel ARM 2516 6.0 47.0 51.5 2537
7 GM Hovhannisyan Robert ARM 2522 6.0 46.0 49.5 2580
8 GM Petrosian Davit G ARM 2487 6.0 45.0 48.5 2452
9 Matinian Nikita RUS 2354 6.0 44.0 47.5 2502
10 Vardanian Haik G ARM 2320 6.0 43.5 47.5 2460
11 GM Simonian Hrair ARM 2473 6.0 42.5 45.5 2478
12 IM Kalashian David ARM 2441 6.0 40.0 43.5 2427
13 GM Babujian Levon ARM 2505 6.0 38.5 42.0 2405
14 GM Andriasian Zaven ARM 2579 5.5 44.5 47.5 2489
15 IM Hayrapetian Arman ARM 2362 5.5 41.5 44.5 2369
16 Alaverdyan Gevorg ARM 2241 5.5 41.0 44.0 2298
Tamazyan Haik ARM 2151 5.5 41.0 44.0 2321
18 Poghosyan Suren ARM 2335 5.5 37.5 40.5 2305
19 Manukyan Sargis V ARM 2223 5.5 37.0 39.5 2321
20 GM Bagaturov Giorgi GEO 2464 5.0 43.5 47.5 2403
21 Vardanian Hakob ARM 2212 5.0 43.5 45.5 2369
22 WGM Paikidze Nazi GEO 2376 5.0 40.0 43.5 2332
23 Harutyunian Tigran K ARM 2063 5.0 39.0 41.0 2295
24 IM Lomineishvili Maia GEO 2355 5.0 38.5 41.5 2278
25 Bakunts Rafael ARM 2086 5.0 36.0 39.0 2291
26 Inants Aghasi ARM 2281 5.0 35.0 37.5 2163
27 Antinyan Armen ARM 2162 5.0 33.0 36.0 2286

Download all games in zipped PGN

Pictorial by Siranush Andriasian and Liana Aghabekyan

Jermuk is a health resort in southern Armenia famous for its hot springs, brand of mineral water and sources known for curing features. It is considered to be attractive for its huge waterfall, the natural bridge, the lake, its forests with the walking trails and fresh air. The town is being set up to become a chess center with numerous chess tournaments having been hosted or scheduled to be hosted.


View Larger Map (use the mouse to pan and zoom)


The beautiful lake view for which Jermuk is famous


The Arpa river which has cut a gouge in the basaltic landscape


The autumn landscape in Jermuk


The "Alley of Warriors", with faces cut into the natural rock


A warrior watches over the lake


The most famous figure – a miracle of natural erosion?


The winner: GM Tigran Kotanjian of Armenia, rated 2522, with 7.0/9 (= 2622 perf)


Second: GM Konstantine Shanava, Georgia, 2566, 6.5/9 points


Third: GM Sergey Volkov, Russia, 2354, with 6.0/9 points


Ninth: Nikita Matinian, RUS, 2354, 6.0/9 points


IM David Kalashian, ARM, 2441, with 6.0/9 points


''Maestro'' Eduard Mnatsakanian, Armenia's first IM


Best female player: WGM Nazi Paikidze, GEO, 2376, 5.0/9


IM Maia Lomineishvili, GEO, 2355, also with 5.0/9 points


WFM Anna Hairapetian, ARM, 2125, 4.0/9 points


Liana Aghabekian, ARM, rated 2146


WIM Siranush Andriasian, ARM, 2214, 4.0/9 points


Hovhannes Gabuzian and Siranush Andriasian analyzing with GM Artashes Minasian


GM Zaven Andriasian happy to play against a beautiful opponent


The winners at the closing ceremony (with GM Smbat Lputian speaking)


The health resort of Jermuk, famous for its mineral waters


Jermuk at night

Karen Asrian, 1980–2008

Karen Asrian was born on April 24, 1980. He won the national Armenian Championship in 1999, 2007 and 2008, and the tournaments of Dubai 2001 and Stepanakert 2004. In 2006 he won a gold medal at the Chess Olympiad in Turin as a member of Armenian team, playing on board three.

Asrian had a solid playing style, refusing to take much risk on board. Combined with good endgame technique this made him an excellent team player. His highest rating was 2646 (in January 2006), his final rating 2630.


Karen Asrian in 2003, aged 23, at the European Championship in Silivri, Turkey

In June 2008 Asrian, apparently feeling ill, pulled his car into a courtyard in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, and lost consciousness. An ambulance crew pronounced him dead at the scene, possibly of a heart attack.


The open casket funeral of GM Karen Asrian, conducted on June 11, in Yerevan

Previous ChessBase articles

Chess in Iran – the Premier League
17.06.2008 – Ten teams are part of this league, which is played on weekends (Fridays in Iran) in different cities all over Iran. The first rounds started this year, 1387 according to the Iranian calendar. Sixty players, including five GMs, four IMs and nine FMs were present – one was very sadly missed: GM Karen Asrian, who passed away tragically last week. Pictorial report by Arash Akbarinia.

Asrian Memorial: Aronian catches Leko in the final rounds
15.06.2008 – The Karen Asrian Memorial rapid chess tournament in Yerevan ended today with a clear victory for Armenia's top GM Levon Aronian, who defeated Michael Adams 1½:½ in the last two games; while Peter Leko, who had been leading most of the time, lost ½:1½ to Alexander Morozevich. The draw average in this event was 65%. Final report.

Peter Leko leads Karen Asrian Memorial in Yerevan
14.06.2008 – It started as the "Chess Giants Yerevan 2008", but after the sudden and tragic death of top Armenian GM Karen Asrian at the age of 28, the Armenian Chess Federation decided to interrupt the event for a few days, and then rename it to the "Karen Asrian Memorial". This will be the name it will bear in the future. The tournament ends tomorrow. Round twelve report.

Top Armenian GM Karen Asrian dies at 28
09.06.2008 We have received word that one of Armenia’s leading grandmasters, Karen Asrian, died today. Apparently he suffered a heart attack while driving a car. Karen Asrian won the title of Armenian champion three times. He also earned a gold medal at the 2006 Olympiad held in Turin. His final rating, in April this year, was 2630. A terrible loss.

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