Person of day   -  16 AUGUST 2023



Elina Danielian was born on 16thAugust 1978 in Baku. She was taught chess by her father, who later enrolled her in a chess class.

“It was my father who insisted that I play chess. I remember that day well: I, a 5-year-old girl, was brought to Spartak’s chess club in Baku- my home city. My whole family came with me. I resisted to the end, but my father was determined. So I became a chess player, largely thanks to my father. And there were no music dances or gymnastics in my childhood- there was only chess.

My whole family took me to the chess school, but I cried and kept trying to run away from it. Many years later, my father told me that an inner voice told him about my future success and motivated him to continue dragging me to chess. I am thankful to him for his” (E. Danielian).

The young girl was trained by Rafael Sarkisov- a famous pedagogue- but their sessions were short-lived. In 1988, the Danielian family moved to Armenia due to the conflict in Karabakh. Elina began to work with Ovik Khalikyan in the Tigran Petrosian School. At the age of 15, the rising star became the champion of Armenia and at 16, she became a women’s grandmaster after qualifying for the 1995 inter-zonal tournament. 

Elina Danielian won several world and European youth championships as well as the Armenian women’s championship. She also won the European team championship and became prizewinner of the European and world championships with Armenia’s national team. Danielian also triumphed at the Cup of European champions with Yerevan’s Mika. 

In 2008, Elina Danielian married Alexander van Pelt- a Dutch chess player with whom she moved to Groningen. However, she continued to play for the Armenian team. In 2011, she was awarded a medal For Services To The Motherland for her medal at the individual European championship- the first in history of the Armenian women’s chess. 

She started her fight for the chess Olympus in 2011, when she qualified for the FIDE knockout world championship. For the last 15 years, Daneilian has regularly played in competitions at the highest level: world championships and FIDE Grand Prix series. In the 2009-2010 series, Elina was among the chess players who fought for victory in the overall table. Her record rating was 2521 and she was among the top 5 FIDE-rated players. In 2010, she also became a GM.  

“I can’t speak for other Armenian players, but chess is my whole life. It’s a world where you can realize yourself, discover yourself, try out your abilities and believe in your own strength. Chess has taught me a lot. It is truly a difficult sport. 

In Armenia, some believe that a woman’s place is not in sport, but that is an outdated viewpoint. Women have proven countless times that they can perform well, sometimes better than men. So we must leave this ancient viewpoint behind and continue to go forward. Women play a significant role in everything, including chess!” (E. Danielian)

Over the years, Elina Danielian has defeated world champions Maia Chiburdanidze, Zhu Chen, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antoaneta Stefanova, Xu Yuhua, Anna Ushenina, Mariya Muzychuk and drawn against Susan Polgar and Hou Yifan. 

Elina Danielian’s second husband is well-known in Armenia’s cinema industry. The couple have a daughter.