Levon Aronian is one of a kind – not only a phenomenally gifted chess player, but also a colourful and quirky character. Who better, then, to subject to a “people’s interview” as part of the Crestbook “KC-Conference” project? Seize the chance to ask him your own questions today!
The Armenian grandmaster needs little introduction. Instead of listing his achievements it’s perhaps enough to say that Aronian’s currently only half a point off the lead in Wijk-aan-Zee, a tournament he’s won twice before, and is also riding high on the live rating list, ranked second behind Vishy Anand on 2812.8. He’s undoubtedly a serious World Championship contender, which makes it a rare honour that he’s willing to take time off from preparing for the Candidates Matches to answer our questions.
The way it works is as follows:
- You can leave your questions for Levon Aronian in the comments section below (or in Russian at Crestbook). Please only post questions there.
- You can ask up to 10 questions, on any topic whatsoever, but remember to be polite and that Levon will have limited time. Also try to read through the earlier questions to avoid too much repetition.
- The deadline for questions is Wednesday, 2 February.
- After that deadline Levon will be sent all the questions. The only editorial control might be to correct obvious spelling/grammar mistakes and group them thematically.
- As soon as Levon has answered your questions we’ll get down to editing, translating and publishing the results, here and at Crestbook.
Before ending with Sergey Shipov’s portrait of Levon Aronian, I’d like to include one of my favourite chess anecdotes. It appeared in an Ilya Odessky report from the 2009 Tal Memorial, and is quintessential Aronian.
Levon Aronian, dropping into the press centre, was almost always sad. He was asked: “Levon, why are you so sad, after all things seem to be going well, you’re not losing and you even won a game”.
“I’m like an animal”, answered Levon.
I’m already used to such statements from the leading Armenian grandmaster. Levon can say anything, anywhere and at any time. But I also had colleagues in the press centre who were amazed. Struck dumb.
“You know why?” Levon continued.
“I read in a book”, Levon continued his thought just as sadly, “that animals are distinguished from man by the fact that they never have to pretend. They just don’t have to, you understand?”
That’s how this man speaks. And that’s how he plays. You can’t mistake his style for anyone else’s.
And finally, here’s Sergey Shipov, writing at Crestbook:
Sergey Shipov on Levon Aronian
Levon Aronian is a diabolically talented lazy guy. He’s been given far more than others, and he skilfully exploits that inequality of possibilities by putting in no more effort than required.
At times Levon’s play is simple, like everything brilliant. When you look at his games you get the feeling that you could do the same yourself. But for some reason it works out for him 9 times out of 10, while for your fellow man even the one remaining game ends up cumbersome.
At times Levon’s play is totally incomprehensible and, like a magician, in reply to each of his opponent’s moves he pulls a new ace from up his sleeve. We can also play like that, but our sleeves only conceal 3s and 7s…
Aronian is favoured by the Gods. He gets lucky regularly and by definition. His victories are as natural as defeats are for the majority of us. The ease with which Levon wins games and tournaments is a delight. But it does him harm. The Armenian grandmaster has got used to acting easily and spontaneously, but as you climb the slope gets steeper and steeper. In order to conquer the world’s highest summit he needs to work harder. For example, in the opening. At home.
The habit of narrowing the scope of his work – by playing his favourite openings and almost never varying his repertoire – is a practical approach. But it won’t allow Aronian to realise his full potential. I’m sure that Levon’s also capable of playing at the necessary level – in the region of 2800 – in other openings, and in other typical positions. He only needs to want to and then to master it. What for others takes long years of painstaking work Levon, I’m sure, could polish off in a couple of months. And then you can confidently bet on him in a future World Championship match where, as we know, it’s very important to be unpredictable in the opening and able to conduct the struggle on any territory and in any style.
So those are the spots on the sun.
Aronian really is a very bright person. It’s a pleasure to talk to him, and he doesn’t exude negativity, as many of his colleagues do. A sunny boy – that was what they called him in his youth. Having become a man, Levon has maintained that light and positivity.
The best way of seeing how the “KC-Conferences” work is to read through some of the earlier examples. Currently available in English are the extensive interviews with GMs:
Michal Krasenkow, Alexei Shirov, Alexander Grischuk, Alexander Khalifman (parts I, II and III) and Peter Svidler (parts I and II). Ruslan Ponomariov’s answers will also be coming soon, though for now he’s a little busy in Wijk-aan-Zee!
The comments section below is open for your questions for Levon Aronian!