46 responses to “Your questions for GM Levon Aronian”

  1. I would like to congratulate you on your ascent to the highest echelons of the sport. What are your views on the role of pattern recognition in chess as result of high exposure to the databases? Is it dificult to combine calculation with other mental skills such as recall,connecting the dots, seeing the big picture and calculation?

    Bless you Levon.

  2. 1. I wish to know what the right balance (in terms of time spent) between over the board play (tournaments) and study time for best chess improvement in young kids. Could you reflect it from your childhood as in how many tournaments (games) did you play in a month until the time you became a master and then after upto IM and GM compared with amount of time spent studying and analyzing games.

    2. In teaching kids chess — is it best to have proper chess trainer at the very beginning so that they learn it the right way or whether this can be introduced once the kid reaches a particular level (if so what level). When did you first have a proper trainer?

    3. For those whose chess strength is between 1500 and 2200 and who seek to improve, what is the best way to utilize computer (specifically computer engines) for analyzing your own games? Is it better to first analyze them yourself manually and make notes and then check with the computer? Is it detrimental if you just run the computer first and let it tell you what mistakes you made. In what way did you most benefit from chess engines when you were developing your chess?

    4. Did you have a smooth rise in your ELO right from the start of your chess career? Which rating mark (was it 1800, 2000, 2200 etc. ) was the toughest to cross and what special efforts were required?

  3. How do you trick Anand into playing like a Candidate master against you ?

  4. 1. As a chess fan, who’re your favorite chess players (if you’re gonna say Tal, then please add some more names). And chess-related persons (can be a player whom you adore but whose games you don’t particularly admire, or a coach/analyst/composer)?
    2. Has Petrosian had any special effect on your game/career/whatever?
    3. Who’s had the greatest influence on your development as a person? In particular, can you detect the influence (any nice stories?) of someone on your highly pleasant whimsical attitude (that comes through in your video analyses and interviews).
    4. Are you interested in philosophy? Spirituality?
    5. What qualities of yourself would you like to change/improve as a chessplayer? And as a person?
    6. Do you ever feel irritated by chess, say at the mere look/thought of a position? If not, do you dread the day that that might start happening on a frequent basis?

  5. Hello Aronian,

    1.Who do you find the most challenging to play against and why ?
    2.Do you see yourself as a future World Champion ?

    Appreciate your input.

  6. Levon, thanks a lot for answering our questions!

    Recognizing your great score with the Berlin Defence (C67), I would like to ask for your opinion concerning Black’s winning chances against a weaker opponent, and maybe you could give your opinion on how (un-) important deep opening preparation tends to be in this ending. Thank you!

  7. I’m interested to know about Lev Aronian’s relationship to his second(s). Can he tell us a little about the process of preparation and division of labor, as well as the personal relationship?

  8. Greetings from Norway Levon Aronian!

    Comparing your chess style with jazz, who would you be? Guess Magnus Carlsen is somewhat like Thelonius Monk, simple but yet very complex!

    If a group of top players, let us say, Aronian (yepp) Anand, Kramnik and Carlsen putt their heads togheter in a match against a computer (like the Kramnik vs fritz match), do you think you would be able to come out with a win?

    Have you ever played a game as smooth as kind of blue?

    Have you been to Norway? There is some quite good jazz-fetivals here during summer, both more traditional and modern jazz, and many interesting young performers popping upp. (Tips & hints for your norwegian holiday can be traded for some modest opening prepps for a 1500-player! he he).

  9. Thank you in advance for your answers!

    1. Do you think there is rating inflation or not and why? Do you feel the Carlsen´s, Anand´s and yours is comparable to Kasparov´s in 2000?

    2. Do you believe in the so called benefits for the mind skills of chess and why?

    3. According to you, why you might think that sometimes is so difficult to chessplayers of all levels to accept some regulations intended to make the sport more professionally played? (Even the more amateur soccer or ping-pong game starts at the time agreed, and use uniforms in a tournament, for example).

    4. Why do you think that most professional chess players have a very poor PR (public relations) strategy? (facebook, twitter, youtube, blogs, etc. and the ones that have any they almost all write down the same stuff of the tournaments that are being held at that time, insted of opinions, analysis, anecdotes, recomendations, their visions of the sport, etc.).

    I congratulate this effort because is a very good PR effort of the chess players and the media.
    I think that chess might be more popular if the player do more PR and refrain of being only geniuses finding the best play like a machine.


  10. Greetings Levon!! You are one of my favorite chess players today and I would love to see you become World Champion. Thank you for taking the time to answer your fans’ questions!

    How would you describe the ratio of natural talent to hours of hard work when it comes to your great success at the Royal Game? Who do you consider the laziest yet most talented of your peers and conversely, who among the Very Top makes up for a relative lack of talent with an iron-willed dedication?

    Thanks again and all the best to you GM Aronian!

  11. 1. You have a rich history of sparring with Vassily Ivanchuk. What do you think of him?

    2. How would you summarize the play of these following players: Kramnik, Karjakin, Nakamura, Radjabov, Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, Le Quang Liem?

  12. As I love to read chess books & about chess, and as you are well known to the public for your kind, generous and witty character, when can all your fans, amongst which yours truly, expect your first chessbook as (co)-author ?
    Rest assured I (we?) wouldn’t expect “nobel prize” literature – a mere personal account of something chess related would suffice…
    I am sure it would be uniquely funny & instructive, two traits I always look for in any situation/book/person.
    If you really really don’t have the time for such a thing, a DVD will do as well (!).
    Very best wishes from Belgium and my sincere hope that one day you’ll not only top the rating list but also become World Champion !!!
    Filip Hellemans (Antwerp, Belgium).

  13. You play Chess 960 extremely well. First, do you have any general comments about the game? Second, do you think Chess 960 can be played at blitz time controls in a way that the game quality is not laughably poor? (Unlike in normal chess, the opening in Chess 960 takes thought and time, so I worry that at blitz time controls, there is simply not enough time total for a typical game.)

  14. 1. How do you rate your chances against Viswanathan Anand in a match?
    2. How do you manage to have had such a good record against the present world champion?
    3. What do you think about Magnus Carlsen’s decision to withdraw from the world championship cycle?

  15. 4. How do you rate the present candidates cycle and your chances in it? What do you feel about your preparation?

  16. 1. Who did you support – Anand or Topalov – in their WC match last year?
    2. Have you ever suspected any of your opponents in cheating during the game?
    3. Do you think it’s possible to become a GM (nowadays), if you’ve started playing chess in your 20’s?
    4. Do you train your tactic skills with specific exercises? How often?
    5. What’s your favourite time control? Do you play blitz regularly? Does it help?


  17. 1. Have you heard about the thinking process method called SCAN?
    2. If you have, what do you think about it?
    3. The top GMs are not using the Kings Indian Defense. Is there something wrong with it? I dont even have ELO, but if PROs dont use it, I feel certain fear to do so.

  18. Levon,
    Somehow I get the impression that you can follow someone into a revolving door yet somehow manage to emerge ahead of them. When you are in good form, as you plainly were at Wijk aan Zee, it seems that you have an uncanny ability to set trap after nasty trap for your opponents. Even if only a small percentage of these tricks work against the world elite, you set so many that they often ultimately make the key difference in your games. Do you consider this a distinctive style of your play? How often do you purposefully forgo the most precise move positionally in order to create a subtle trap? And, in your opinion, would such an approach be more or less advisable for players at lower rating levels?

  19. Hello Levon. First of all, congratulations on your continued ascent up the chess elite, and for winning the World Blitz title! I am currently 2200+ ELO, but admittedly don’t have a very good positional eye. How would you suggest that one improves their positional acumen? And secondly, what advice would you give on how to improve someone’s ability to evaluate unclear positions?
    Continued congrats, and best wishes for the Candidates tournament!

    P.S. I hope that you and Arianne are doing well…I remember playing in what was her first tournament in the USA back in 1996 [http://www.anusha.com/us-open.htm]…long time ago :).

  20. Hi, ARONIAN,

  21. Some of my questions might seem unserious and maybe inappropriate, yet it would certainly be very interesting to se your response.

    1. What do you think of the way Nakamura always make excuses for his losses, and in general act slitghtly arrogantly? Is it a topic among the rest of you?

    2. Which of the other top GMs are your “best friends;” e.g are there anyone you keep in touch with apart from in the tournaments, and who do you speak most with when at a tourney?

    3. Predict what the top 5 will look like in 2 years

    4. Which opponent do you see as your nemesis?

    5. What do you think of your internet nickname Drawronian?

    Thank you:)

  22. Prosit! Genatzt! Yung sing! Cheers!

    1. Can you name a Novel or two or three that
    you’ve read at least twice?

    2. How many languages do you speak fluently?

    3. What’s you’re definition of a great chess

    4. Do you play a musical instrument?

    GM Aronian, I wish you good health and much success in the WCC Candidates matches. Enjoy yourself!

  23. Levon,
    do you still play chess for fun?
    if so, are tournament games fun?


  24. First off, let me use this as an opportunity to express my gratitude for the pride you have brought to Armenia, and the role model you have been to me, though this small post will never do it justice.

    Anyway, when you play, do you ever have thoughts that you are “playing for Armenia,” or does this only occur in the Olympiads?

    Also, are your parents slightly disappointed(not that they have much to be disappointed about!) that you are dating a non-Armenian?

    Finally, what are your opinions about the new Armenian Champion and 5th board, Robert Hovhannisyan?

    Thanks in advance for your responses, and best of luck in the Candidates Matches!

  25. Greetings Levon! I am a big fan of you and would love to see you next World Champion!
    Do you have a coaching staff and who are the members of it? How many hours a day do you study chess and what does your training process look like?
    Thank you!

  26. I hope this question is not insulting.
    Can you share with us top GMs attitude to sex during long events?
    Is it like in football when the coach say ‘no way’? I guess it would be harder in something like Tata where there are 13 rounds :)

  27. On your Elo development: You seemed a relative late bloomer, crossing 2700 only at the age of 22 or 23 (certainly late compared to many of your younger colleagues, but also later than Grischuk and Ponomariov who are roughly your age). Recently, after about a year of ‘stagnation’ at a very high 2780ish level, you “suddenly” crossed 2800. I would say these barriers are more symbolic than anything else, but

    1. Any comments on this? Are/were there particular reasons?

    2. At/around/before these or any other moments, did you make deliberate changes to your way of playing and/or studying chess? If so, which ones (e.g. working with different coaches or seconds)?

    3. One of my favorite Aronian quotes is “I play the Marshall when I don’t mind a draw, and the Berlin when I want to win”. I may know what you mean, even though I don’t understand, hate and avoid the Berlin in my own games with either color. How do you feel if your opponent plays 5.Re1 against the Berlin? How often has it happened?

    4. Which is your favorite supertournament?

    Greetings from the Netherlands [hint on what I’d like to hear on the last question, but all answers are fine ,:) ]

  28. Sorry, one more:

    5. Why did you stop playing in the German Bundesliga?

  29. Greetings Levon — I saw that you enjoy the music of John Coltrane. You are lucky to have a good musical ear. My favorite period of his: 1957-1962. Yours?

    By the way, chess must be somewhat popular in Armenia. I know three Armenian-American chess players, and they are all candidate masters and improving.
    Meanwhile, as much as I respect Mr. Anand, I’d be very happy to see you win the World Championship. Good luck!

  30. Questions

    1. You hear a lot of talk from uneducated fans and journalists about the ‘obvious’ rating inflation. As one of the people they are always referring to with such statements, how do you feel about the rating system? Is it accurate? Could it be improved.

    2. There is another aspect that comes from fans and journalists that ‘draws’ are bad. Therefore Sofia rules are good! What are your feelings? I had an idea that GMs should always be allowed to offer a draw if there are less than 7 pieces on the board on the premise that it falls under tablebase rules and GMs would know better if there was anything to play for there. (I remember an Anand Topalov game where they played out Rook and 2 against Rook and 2 because the arbiter refused them a draw!). What do you think?

    3. You made a comment to a journal once that you play the Berlin to win and Marshall to draw. I’m sure it was half in jest but I always play the Berlin for a win myself and get accused of ‘playing for a draw from the word go.’ Do you feel there is more richness to the Berlin than meets the public eye the way a swashbuckling Sicilian does?

    4. How do you maintain your concentration during serious and long tournaments? Do you have special training techniques you use to help build up stronger concentration?

    Thanks for your time! Good luck in the Candidates Matches!

  31. First of all, Congratulations on breaking the 2800 barrier. Cool :)

    1. What exactly is the arrangement between the Player and the seconds with regard to the novelties and improvements? Are the seconds allowed to play the novelties as and when they please? or is there a time period before which they cannot play them?

    2. In your opinion, What is the difference between strong 2650s, 2700s, and the top 5-10 in the world?


  32. I know this is weird… seeing your photos/interviews and going through Morozevich’s games give me (and a friend of mine) similar pleasure. We find some similarity between your personality and Moro’s games that we can’t express in words…
    1. In case you don’t succeed in the candidates, who would you like the challenger to be (who would make the best W.Ch. match) ?
    2. Do you think you might write a book in the future?
    3. Have you met any GMs of the older generation (youngest around Yusupov-time)? Any nice stories?

  33. Levon,

    It’s great of you to connect with wider chess audience.
    Do you have favourite authors in fiction/non-fiction?

    Thanks and best wishes,

  34. Hi Levon,

    I want to ask You that which ability of chess player (other than hard work) separates the top elite from the rest.
    I also wants to ask your comment on fide ratings, do u think that this rating system really shows the true strength of Players.
    Which chess move do you consider as the greatest ever played in OTB game.
    And my last question is that from the current top players who u think has the best endgame technique ( please try to name 1 person if that’s possible).

  35. Levon do you think you can cross Garry’s 2851 elo record. ? ( In my openion u are the only one who is consistent enough to do that. and i can even bet on this that u will do it.

  36. Hi Levon,

    Your standard response to 1. e4 is e5 and you have done very well with it. Bobby Fischer changed his openings a bit in his 1972 WC match to keep his opponent off balance. Could we expect the same from you in the Candidate matches?

    You use your right hand to write down your moves but you use your left hand to make them. Why do you do that when most people use the same hand?

    You’re a fan of Franz Kafka as I am. What makes him so appealing to you?

    I enjoy your internet interviews and best of luck in the Candidate matches and the rest of your career.

  37. Hi Levon. I wish to ask you two questions:

    1) Will Garry Kasparov ever return to playing in the professional chess circuit?

    2) Could you please name your top 10 chess books of all-time?

    Thank you,

    Tom T.

  38. Forgive me. My 3rd question, posted 29 Jan., needs correction. It should read:

    3. What’s your definition of a great chess player.

    Well, I couldn’t help notice, after reading some of the other questions, that you’re a big fan of the late John Coltrane, of Jazz.

    5. Are you familiar with the 1963 recording he did with Johnny Hartman?

  39. 1. Is it enjoyable work, being a professional chess player? playing long games, preparing, practicing, etc.

    2. Do you think that the structure of the current world championship cycle is likely to pick the strongest challenger (whatever “strongest” means)? And likely to have the strongest player emerge as the world champion? And do you feel it’s important that the cycle has these properties?

    thank you

  40. Hi there Levon,

    Looking forward to the first ever Anand-Aronian WC battle.

    As we all know, chess players have an infamous reputation of being labelled nerds and introverts(although not all of us are, ALL are still prosecuted). Although we might have bragging rights in the intellectual area, we arent they guys who would actually get the girl.

    1.So to cut a long story short, how can chess players have that cool factor in them to get any girl of their dreams, without having to quit the game but still able to be at around master strength?

    2. How can strong chess players be an alpha male without being a nerd or an introvert?

    3. How to make girls view chess as fun and not boring?

    This way, hopefully chess players could clear their reputations and make chess a respectable sport so supermodels would not only look out for golfers, footballers and tennis players but also give chess players an equal if not more fighting chance.

  41. Levon, what do you do when you are not playing chess?

  42. We see that lot many super tournaments are either delayed or canceled, which I believe is a result of lack of sponsorship? In your opinion what can an elite super Gm like you should do to help this situation? What should different federations do? What should an ordinary fan do to help? How can association between commercial organization and chess be beneficial to both?
    All the best for coming Candidates. It will be great if you become the challenger as you are the only worthy and willing person who did not have chance yet.

  43. Dear GM Aronian–

    Thank you for all your creative efforts in chess which give joy and inspiration to those of us who enjoy the game in a far less than GM capacity.

    1. How did your process of dealing with difficult or initially difficult opponents (e.g. Topalov, Kramnik, Anand, others?) evolve as you entered the level of competing in tournaments such as Corus, Linares, Bilbao and MTel?

    2. Is there an opponent who was not initially challenging for you, but who has become a difficult opponent? If so, who might they be?

    3. Your are known for being very social and having a good sense of humor, how do you get along socially with GM Kramnik who is known for his dry wit?

    4. Since chess is an international game, how many different languages are you either fluent or conversant in? Which is the most useful in general?

    Good luck in the 2011 Candidates Tournament and I hope to see you as World Champion one day– before too many years pass!

    –Don R., MN, USA