TCF on "Armenian Exceptionalism"

by ChessBase
3/12/2014 – Last week we published a portrait of Armenian World Championship candidate Levon Aronian. English journalist Dominic Lawson had interviewed him for the British cultural and political monthly "Standpoint". Lawson's article contained a reference to a very sensitive historical issue between Turkey and the Armenian minority in 1915. The Turkish Chess Federation sent us the following statement.

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Before we give you the text of the statement of the TCF we need to mention that we received the permission of Standpoint to republish their article on our news page, in its entirety, with no permission to edit it in any way. The ChessBase reprint was cleared with the author before publication and reflects exactly what appeared in the March 2014 issue of the magazine – with additional pictures and a JavaScript replay board for the game that was quoted.

Dominic Ralph Campden Lawson, 57, is the principal columnist and non-fiction book reviewer for the Sunday Times and also weekly leader page columnist for the Daily Mail. He is author of The Inner Game, an intimate inside account of the 1993 world championship match between Kasparov and Short. In January he presented BBC Radio's first chess series in half a century: Across The Board.

Standpoint is a monthly British cultural and political magazine. It is based in London and describes its core mission as being "to celebrate western civilisation", its arts and its values – in particular democracy, debate and freedom of speech – at a time when they are under threat. The magazine is broadly centre-right in orientation, but aims to include a "broad church" and to capitalize on the realignment of political attitudes in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The magazine has sought to revive the art of the essay in Britain, calling itself a response to "a market swamped by the journalistic equivalent of fast food".


To the editors of Chessbase:

We have noted that on an interview conducted with Grandmaster Levon Aronian by Mr. Dominic Lawson published in the Standpoint magazine on your website on March 3, 2014 contains some statements that have deplored the Turkish Chess Federation, the Turkish chess community and the Turkish people.

The report mentioned above cited from the Standpoint magazine with following quote: “Levon is of course acutely aware of the fact that the Armenian people have also experienced a history of oppression, with Hitler once citing the fact that the Turks had got away with the genocide of the Armenians as a reason why he could do the same to the Jews. "Yes, this legacy makes you able to deal with setbacks, because you know it is nothing compared with what your peoples have endured."”

It is very perturbing to see such remarks on the occasion of a very important chess tournament, Candidates Tournament for the World Championship 2014. We are aware that on the eve of the 100th anniversary of 1915 Events, this matter is brought to the agenda on every possible occasion and every possible field and we are deeply sorrowful to see chess is being used for these political purposes.

The 1915 Events remains as a subject of a legitimate scholarly debate, but it is deemed as genocide in the article. It is not a historical fact to describe that event as a genocide, we strictly decline this opinion. It should be reminded that the Republic of Turkey proposes a joint commission to be established being composed of Turkish and Armenian historians to study the events of 1915 via the archives of both countries, and all other relevant historical archives in the third countries and share their findings with the international public. The worst event in the chess family is to use a chess tournament as a political area.

We would also like to note that our players are currently competing in the European Individual Chess Championship in Yerevan, and Armenian chess players have competed in Turkey on numerous occasions including the World Chess Olympiad in 2012 and various editions of Is Bank Chess League. No one did not mingle with politics and made harmful remarks. Therefore, chess media should be wary of historically sensitive issues which would harm a potential of future cooperation.

As a result, we declare the publication of this article dictating one version of a sensitive historical debate in the context of a chess event is not line with sportsmanship and international law.

We kindly request from the editors of your web site to pay attention to this sensitive issue and act responsibly today and in the future.

Sincerely yours,

Turkish Chess Federation


  • Lawson in 'Standpoint': Armenian Exceptionalism
    3/6/2014 – Next Thursday will bring the first round of the Candidates Tournament for the World Championship 2014 in Khanty-Mansiysk. Hottest contender for the privilege of challenging World Champion Magnus Carlsen is Levon Aronian, who towers 43 points above the next-strongest candidate. English journalist Dominic Lawson interviewed the 'diabolically talented' Armenian.

  • Google Turkey + Armenia + 1915 to read about the background of the historical debate.

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