June 24, 2014 17:55

Three-day Tour Carlsen (& Aronian) Through Armenia

Right after the FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championship, Magnus Carlsen didn't return immediately back to Norway. Instead he travelled to Armenia, where the World Champion made a three-day trip together with his manager. The two were joined and guided by Armenia's number one player Levon Aronian. The trip was held at the invitation of businessman Ruben Vardanian of Acronis and Serguei Beloussov, CEO at Acronis and founder of Parallels - one of Carlsen's sponsors.

Carlsen in Armenia  | Photo © Armsport

After winning both the rapid and blitz world title and spending one more day in Dubai, on Sunday Magnus Carlsen went on a three-day tour to Armenia together with his manager Espen Agdestein and also with Armenia's number one player, and world number two, Levon Aronian.

On the first day, Carlsen met with officials of the Armenian Chess Federation and visited the Petrosian Chess House, where he gave a simul. But before that, Carlsen paid tribute to the 9th world chess champion: Tigran Petrosian of Armenia, who held the crown from 1963 to 1969.

Carlsen leaves four white roses at Petrosian's grave | Photo © Armsport

Carlsen played the simul over 12 boards, against young & talented chess players. Nonetheless, he managed to win all games. 

Each board at the simul had a beautiful demo board that reminded of the best times of Soviet chess | Photo © Armsport

After the simul Carlsen also visited the Cafesjian Art Center where he played some blitz with representatives of IT & technology companies. There, the Norwegian grandmaster lost one game, to Armenian MP Tachat Vardapetyan, as reported by Yerkramas. Another news website, ArmeniaNow, adds that Vardapetyan represents the parliamentary faction of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia led by President Serzh Sargsyan.

The highlight of the trip took place on Monday when the group hopped into a helicopter for a 45-minute flight to the medieval Tatev Monastery, a popular touristic attraction located in Armenia's southern Syunik province. It was this trip that Espen Agdestein looked forward to most, when speaking to Chess.com in Dubai, and for good reason: at the monestary, Aronian & Carlsen would give a joint simul, but the opponents were rather special this time: 20 monks!  

Aronian kept his friends updated on the trip by tweeting a few times, and also posted a photo on his Facebook page.


Aronian & Carlsen in between the monks | Photo © Levon Aronian on Facebook

A nice collection of photos of the simul can be found on the PanArmenian Photo website.

“Tatev is a very beautiful place and reminded me of my homeland. I have not seen much to express my  opinion about Armenia. I am very much impressed by the attitude toward chess in your country. It is really a good example for other countries,” Carlsen would say at a press conference back in Yerevan, as reported by News.am. The full press conference was posted on YouTube:

On Tuesday Carlsen met with the aforementioned Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia but also the head of the Armenian Chess Federation. Mediamax quoted the President: “I am happy Levon Aronian is here as well. He is the pride of Armenian people and I think he is also Magnus’s most worthy opponent in chess. Beyond doubt, we pin great hopes on Levon, and it’s first of all owing to him that the team of a small country such as Armenia is has managed to become a three-time winner of the World Chess Olympiad. I am greatly thankful to him.”

A meeting with the president | Photo © Mediamax

Chess is becoming quite popular in Norway, but it must have been a joy for Carlsen to visit a country where the game is so deeply incorporated in its culture!

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anonymous's picture

How strong is Tachat Vardapetyan? He doesn't seem to have a FIDE profile.

Anonymous's picture

May be he got a hint from Aronian

Septimus's picture

Hats off to Armenia for placing chess at the forefront of their sporting activities.

blade's picture

magnus is becoming a nice ambassador for the chess world. by this, it'll strenghten ties between great chess players of any country. wonderful report, peter doggers!

Calvin Amari's picture

Hats off as well to Aronian for sharing the chess spotlight in Armenia. Some players resort to demonizing their opponents. That has never been the case with either Levon or Magnus.

Greco's picture

"Some players resort to demonizing their opponents"

Like whom?

Anonymous's picture

Probably 'demonizing' isn't exactly the right word. Kramnik once said Magnus was so successful due to non chess-related reasons, what ever that should have meant. People, including chess players, often say a lot of things when they're asked to, not to be taken too seriously.

Anonymous's picture

Like calling them Sauron maybe?

Greco's picture

Please dont use my handle...ty

RS's picture

Nice report and heartwarming to see Carlsen and Aronian participating together.

The demonizing opponents part happens particularly when player's egos are too large and overcome logic e.g. Kramnik and Topalov.

Neither Carlsen nor Aronian have large ego which is what makes them such wonderful individuals.

Thomas Richter's picture

"Neither Carlsen nor Aronian have large ego" - I would say both have big egos, like most other top players (maybe that's needed to reach the very top?). Also Aronian whom I like as a player and as a person, but some colleagues might not really like his habit to make jokes about everyone even if "everyone" includes Aronian himself. At the winner's press conference in Wijk aan Zee, Aronian was asked whether this victory boosts his self-confidence and replied "I already have too much self-confidence!" - a joke, but a joke that doesn't come from nowhere.

The point isn't big egos, but big egos colliding with each other. This was a win-win situation for both: Carlsen enjoyed the trip, Aronian proudly showed his home country and probably also enjoyed himself (for example, he probably doesn't take a helicopter flight every week ...). About two years ago, the friendly Aronian-Kramnik match was also a win-win situation - financially and as a chance to face strong opposition during a period with few supertournaments.

Anonymous's picture

I find Aronian's jokes very amusing and they do not seem offensive at all. I agree that to be a top player you probably need to have a lot of confidence, but it does not necessarily translate in an ego. Look at Tal for a prime example of that.

xxx's picture

"After the simul Carlsen also visited the Cafesjian Art Center where he played some blitz with representatives of IT & technology companies. There, the Norwegian grandmaster lost one game, to Armenian MP Tachat Vardapetyan, as reported by Yerkramas."

Vardapetyan cheated by using IT & technology!

jimknopf's picture

Aronian and Carlsen really promote chess in a sypathetic way, and thanks for the interesting report!

RS's picture

Am i the only one who is finding the voice quality in the press conference video somewhat unclear?

Anonymous's picture

No. Also the wobbling of the video made me slightly seasick, I think I need to take some Dramamine. Luckily Peter has a stabler hand!

Fuck all Armenians's picture

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