Chess has been played in Armenia since the Early Middle Ages; however, it was institutionalized during the early Soviet period. Highly popular in Armenia today, chess gained widespread recognition during the 1960s, when Soviet Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian became the World Chess Champion. A country of about three million people, Armenia is considered one of the strongest chess nations today.Among countries, Armenia has one of the most chess grandmasters per capita.In recent years, the Armenian men's chess team has won the European Team Championship (1999), the World Team Championship (2011) and the Chess Olympiad (2006, 2008, 2012). The women's team had its crowning victory at the 2003 European Championship. As of December 2013, Armenia ranks sixth in the world by the average rating of its top players. Levon Aronian, Armenia's best chess player, is currently world No. 2 in the FIDE rankings. Aronian was a World Champion candidate in 2007, 2012 and 2013.