Chess is Mandatory in Armenia

From Al Jazeera:

Yerevan, Armenia – Little Susie Hunanyan attended her favourite class in school last week, and it wasn’t drawing, crafts or sport. The seven-year-old sat studiously through an hour of chess lessons.

In Armenia, learning to play the grand game of strategy in school is mandatory for children – the only country in the world that makes chess compulsory – and the initiative has paid dividends. Armenia, a Caucasus country with a population of just three million, is a chess powerhouse.

Susie listened attentively as her teacher explained chess moves on a large board in front of the class at the Yeghishe Charents Basic School in the capital, Yerevan.

“I like chess lessons a lot. They always pass by smoothly,” she said, setting up pieces sequentially on her board.

Armenia has produced more than 30 grandmasters and won the team chess Olympiads in 2006, 2008 and 2012. Armenian champion Levon Aronian is currently the third-best player in the world, according to the World Chess Federation rankings.