Mexico preview: Levon Aronian, the great Armenian hope

9/6/2007 – Last week our Playchess trainer Dennis Monokroussos examined two encounters between Kramnik and Anand; this week he continues his preview of the participants in the upcoming World Championship tournament in Mexico City with a portrait of the young and very much up and coming Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian. Be there and watch.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

While Alexander Grischuk is the youngest participant and has been a big name on the world stage since 2000, Aronian, one year Grischuk's senior, was comparatively unknown to the general chess public until late 2004/early 2005. Since then it's as if he was shot out of a cannon, blasting past almost everyone. He has won several super-GM events, reached as high as number three on the rating list (he's currently #8) and has even defeated Vladimir Kramnik in a rapid match.

Aronian has claimed to be a bit lazy when it comes to theoretical preparation, but if true he certainly makes up for it in his ability to improvise over the board. We will see this in our game tonight, Aronian-Anand from this year's Morelia/Linares tournament. Anand won the event, but Aronian won their mini-match with fine play in a queenless middlegame/endgame.

What can we get from our examination of this game? First, friends and foes of the Slav will get a glimpse into the important 4.Qc2 sideline - a nice way for White to avoid the mounds of theory devoted to 4.Nc3 dxc4/a6/e6 (there are literally 100 times more games with 4.Nc3 than 4.Qc2 in the databases, so this is a real time-saver).

Second, several important pawn-structure themes arise in the game: White accepts doubled, isolated h-pawns at one point, and it's interesting to reflect on whether or not this is a serious problem. On the other hand, White enjoys the more impressive pawn center, as he usually does in the Slav. Whether this is serious, and what he can do with it, will also be considered in our coverage.

Third: Aronian enjoyed the bishop pair in a situation where that can prove meaningful, and so we'll spend some time discussing that feature of the game as well. That the bishop pair can be used aggressively is well-known, but they also performed useful prophylactic and defensive work, too.

Fourth and finally, there are some beautiful tactics and finesses, and of course we'll pay careful attention to them, too. Aronian's win constitutes an impressive strategic effort, but it's the tactical aspects that really put the shine on the game.

Remember to tune in for the show live, tonight (Thursday) at 9 p.m. ET – hope to see you there!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 01:00h GMT, 02:00 Paris/Berlin, 11:00h Sydney (on Friday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).


Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.


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