Grandmaster Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian won Brazil’s chess championship, held in São Paulo from Feb. 25-March 6. He secured the title with seven wins, three draws, and one loss, finishing the tournament with 8.5/11 points.
Commenting on his victory, Mekhitarian told the Armenian Weekly, “Winning the championship for the first time is very significant for me—a great personal achievement after all these years.” He added, “But, I also see this as a small step, compared to the bigger challenge of becoming a better player in the chess world.”
A Brazilian Armenian, Mekhitarian has visited Armenia three times so far. “I first visited Hayastan in 1999 to participate in the Pan-Armenian games. I was still an amateur chess player then, but that trip will always be the best trip of my life. It was then that I got to know our motherland for the first time. Traveling through all the historical sites was priceless.”
In 2000, Mekhitarian trained in Yerevan with renowned chess trainer Vrej Ordian. It helped him “take bigger steps in my career.” He won Brazil’s junior (U20) championship twice, in 2003 and 2004.
In 2010, he visited Armenia again to take part in the Pan-Armenian Chess Olympiad. He shared the first place at the tournament. The same year, he became a Grandmaster—the highest title in chess.
Mekhitarian was born in São Paulo in 1986. He learned playing chess from his father at the age of six. “I learned the moves when I was around 6, with my dad’s help. He just thought it would be an interesting activity for me,” he said. “After starting to play, I spent some years just practicing with my father, and I took part in my first tournament when I was ten.”
The world chess champion from 1963 to 1969, Tigran Petrosian, is one of Mekhitarian’s favorite players, along with Alexander Alekhine and Mikhail Botvinnik. “After becoming a serious player, I followed Garry Kasparov until he retired. In recent years, Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk and Alexander Morozevich have been my favorites,” he said.