Tigran Petrosian

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 Soviet Union

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian (Armenian: Տիգրան Պետրոսյան, Russian: Тигран Вартанович Петросян) (June 17, 1929 – August 13, 1984) was an Armenian World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else.[1][2] He was a Candidate for the World Championship on eight occasions (1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1980). He won the world championship in 1963 (against Botvinnik), successfully defended it in 1966 (against Spassky), and lost it in 1969 (to Spassky). Thus he was the defending World Champion or a World Championship candidate in ten consecutive three-year cycles. He won the Soviet Championship four times (1959, 1961, 1969, and 1975). He was arguably the hardest player to beat in the history of chess.[3]


Early years (1929–1949)

Tigran Petrosian was born to Armenian parents[4] on 17 June 1929 in Tiflis, Georgia, which was then a member of the former Soviet Union. As a young boy, Petrosian was an excellent student and enjoyed studying, as did his brother Hmayak and sister Vartoosh. He learned to play chess at the age of 8,[5] though his illiterate father Vartan encouraged him to continue studying, as he thought chess was unlikely to bring his son any financial success.[6] Petrosian was orphaned during World War II and was forced to sweep streets to earn a living.[4] It was about this time that his hearing began to deteriorate, a problem that afflicted him throughout his life. In a 1969 interview with Time Magazine, he recalled:

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