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Chess as the most popular and beloved sport continues to reach new heights in Armenia. In recent years, thanks to the Republican Interschool Chess Tournament, organized by the Chess Academy of Armenia and RA Education Ministry, and sponsored by AGBU, chess has become one of the most popular games in Armenia, especially among children and young people. In 2012 Chess became part of the official curriculum in secondary schools which is yet another reason for the popularity of the game among this age group. The 8th Chess Republican Interschool Tournament started in September 2013. Winners of the first two rounds went on to the regional semi-finals, which took place in Yerevan, Stepanakert and all the regional centers between March 25 and April 10. AGBU Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenian Representation Interim Director Hovik Eordekian, members of the AGBU Armenia Representation staff were present at all the semi-final matches of the tournament together with Smbat Lputyan, President of the Armenian Chess Academy and Vice-Chairman of the Armenian Chess Federation. Also present at the Yerevan semi-finals were Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan and Deputy Mayor and Head of the Yerevan Municipality Culture Department Aram Sukiasyan. The top three Yerevan teams were: school #187 (3rd place), school #119 (2nd place) and school #2 (1st place). These three teams from Yerevan together with 15 other winning teams from the regions will continue their struggle for the title of the overall winner at the Stepanakert finals in May. “The first three teams will go on to the next round. We have almost secured our place among the top three and we will work harder during the finals to bring honour to our school and our city,” said Mariam from Yerevan school #119. “We have always been willing to support the development of chess in Armenia and when the opportunity presented itself to sponsor this tournament we gladly accepted and have been funding this interschool tournament for the past seven years,” said Vasken Yacoubian. AGBU presented trophies to all the teams, MP3 players to all the participants of the semi-finals, and ASUS tablets to the winners. AGBU has also prepared gifts for the final stage of the tournament scheduled for May 2014. Since its inception in 2008, the Republican Interschool Chess Tournament has produced many players who have graduated to the professional level and have taken home prestigious awards from Armenia's Youth Chess Championship, the Republic of Armenia Chess Championship and the international Vladimir Dvorkovich Cup in Moscow. AGBU has been a tournament sponsor for the last six consecutive years. Every year close to 15,000 students, ages 7-17, between grades 1-12 and representing over 1,000 schools, participate in this tournament.