Rapid chess match Kramnik vs Aronian begins today

5/4/2007 – After beating Peter Leko in Hungary Vladimir Kramnik is taking on the world number five player Levon Aronian in his home country of Armenia. A six-game rapid chess match will be played in the Yerevan Opera House, from May 4th to 6th, 2007. Games start at 15:00h and 16:45 CEST. We bring you full information and a pre-match interview with Lev Aronian.

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The Aronian-Kramnik Rapid Chess Match takes place in Yerevan, Armenia, from May 4th to 6th, 2007. I goes over six games, played at the rate of 25 min for the entire game with a increment of 10 seconds per move. The match will be played over three days, in the Yerevan Opera House, with the games beginning at 18:00 hrs and 19:45 hrs local time (GMT + 4). That is 15:00h CEST, 14:00h London and 09:00 a.m. New York for the first game; 16:45h, 15:45h and 10:45 a.m. for the second. Click on the Yerevan times above to get your own local time.

Vladimir Kramnik of Russia was born on June 25, 1975. He is currently the World Champion, rated 2772 (third in the world). By any measure he has already achieved legendary status: for over a decade and a half he has been at the top of the ratings list, and in 2000 he wrested the World Championship crown from Garry Kasparov, who had carried it for fifteen years. In 2004 he defended it against Peter Leko and in 2006 won the Unification World Championship against Veselin Topalov. He is an excellent rapid chess player, having recently won the Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament and an eight-game rapid chess match against Peter Leko in Miskolc, Hungary. Kramnik is renowned as an extremely solid player who loses rarely, even when not at his best. A testament to his unyielding performance is his streak in 1999 and 2000 where he played 86 games at classical controls without a single defeat.

Levon Aronian of Armenia was born on October 6, 1982 and was a two time World Junior Champion (under-12 in 1994 and under-20 in 2002). He currently is ranked fifth in the world with a rating of 2759. The latest in the long line of Armenian chess stars, the 24 year old Levon Aronian has recently catapulted himself into very top circle of the chess elite with victories in the Category 20 Morelia/Linares Super-GM 2006 tournament. Aronian also lead his Armenian compatriots to a deserved gold medal at the Turin Chess Olympiad in 2006.

Aronian’s playing style is difficult to characterize and easy to misunderstand. His games are unconventional and exciting, while his attitude is engaging and uncompromising. In his non-professional life he maintains a light, positive attitude under all circumstances.


Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian analysing earlier this year in Wijk aan Zee


Pre-match Interview with Levon Aronian

Conducted by Aram Hajian

Aram Hajian: Hi Levon – nice to talk to you again and welcome back to Yerevan. Tomorrow you square off against the World Champion Vladimir Kramnik in a 6 game rapid chess match. How would you assess him as a player?

Levon Aronian: Well, it is well known that Kramnik rarely loses, a solid positional player in the classic sense. In fact, I have to say that I like to play in a similar style - I like his games. Of course, he has had his ups and downs, but when he is at his best you could say that he is almost unbeatable.

I am sure you were following the Leko-Kramnik match [won by Kramnik 4.5-3.5]. What were your impressions of the games?

Actually, I didn’t have time to follow the games as I was at a training camp here in Armenia. I did have a chance to briefly look at the games after the fact, but can’t give you a really deep assessment. Nevertheless, it seems that his victory was fairly convincing, an opinion shared by several of my colleagues who followed the games more carefully.

Much has been discussed about your meteoric rise to the very top of chess over the past two years. If there was a single factor that you would attribute to this rise, what would it be?

LA: [some hesitation] Pure luck. [Laughter]

Well, OK, I guess everyone is entitled to his opinion. Levon, you mentioned that you were at a training session recently. Who do you work with?

It has become customary for me to study chess with friends. And once again, in the resort town of Jermuk, I was with several of my “usual suspects,” GMs Gabriel Sargissian, Arman Pashikian, and Ara Minasian. Regarding this session, I am quite satisfied from the time spent with them and think that it was a successful effort. I’d like to underscore that I enjoy training with my friends.

Armenians have cemented their reputation as a strong chess-playing nation. Is there a so-called “Armenian style” of chess? If so, how would you describe it?

Generally, you could say that Armenians have had a lack in opening preparation, leading to positions out of the opening where they haven’t enjoyed much of an opening advantage. Maybe the Informants [compendiums of opening theory and analysis] didn’t reach far-away Armenia because of the unreliable postal service [smiling]. Seriously though, one could characterize Armenians by their fighting spirit, often playing long games, striving for victory to the very end. But it's possible that I am not so typical in this regard. My recent experience playing in many high level tournaments has compelled me to improve my opening preparedness.

Levon, you are well known as a strong player in all kinds of formats. What do you have to say about the 25 minute game time control?

I like playing chess. It doesn’t matter if it is 5 minute blitz, 25 minute rapid, or a two hours per side classical match. Quite simply, I enjoy playing chess.

Any closing thoughts?

Just a warm greeting to all my friends and fans!

OK. Thanks Levon and best of luck in the upcoming match.

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