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Aronian at the 2011 European Team Chess Championships in Athens
Aronian has been the leading Armenian chess player since the early 2000s. His popularity in Armenia has led to him being called a celebrity and a hero. He was named the best sportsman of Armenia in 2005 and was awarded the title of Honoured Master of Sport of the Republic of Armenia in 2009. In 2012 he was awarded the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots.
In 2016, CNN called Aronian the "David Beckham of chess".
In March 2006, Aronian took sole first place at the annual Linares chess tournament, half a point ahead of Teimour Radjabov and FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov. He achieved unexpected victory by easily beating a somewhat demoralised Peter Leko with the black pieces in the final round. Aronian was ranked fifth in the world by FIDE at the time and had just won one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world he was considered an underdog in. This triumph, along with winning the World Cup last year, are considered the events that consolidated the young Aronian's place as one of the leading Grandmasters in the world. In 2006 he also tied for first in the Tal Memorial. The April-July 2006 FIDE rating list ranked Aronian the number three player in the world. Armenia won its first ever Chess Olympiad at the 37th Chess Olympiad. Aronian played on board one for the Olympiad. The Armenia national chess team won gold ahead of China and the United States.
His 2005 World Cup victory qualified him for the Candidates Tournament of the World Chess Championship 2007, scheduled for May-June 2007. In this tournament he played GM Magnus Carlsen, and they tied 3-3 in the initial six games, then 2-2 in rapid chess, and finally Aronian won 2-0 at blitz chess. In the finals, he defeated Shirov 3½-2½. This qualified him for the final stage of the championship, which was played in Mexico. There, he scored six points out of 14, finishing seventh out of eight players.
In January 2008, he won the Corus chess tournament jointly with Magnus Carlsen, scoring 8/13. Both drew their final games against each other. In March 2008, he won the Melody Amber Blindfold/Rapid tournament held in Nice, France, 2½ points ahead of the nearest competitors. Apart from his first place win in the overall tournament, he also took sole first place in the rapid section of the tournament (winning by a margin of 1½ points) and shared first place in the Blindfold section with three other chess grandmasters: Kramnik, Morozevich, and Topalov. In June 2008, Aronian won the Karen Asrian Memorial Rapid chess tournament in Yerevan. He finished with 8½/14, ahead of Peter Leko.Peter Leko was winning throughout most of the tournament. Aronian took first in the final rounds. He won the Second FIDE Grand Prix in Sochi with enough points to win the Grand Prix even before the last event took place. Aronian defeated Alexander Grischuk in the final and finished with 8.5/13 points and a performance rating of 2816. Aronian won the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden with the Armenia national Chess team, winning gold for the second time in a row at a Chess Olympiad. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan attended the Olympiad to support the team. After the Olympiad, they flew back to Armenia with him on the presidential plane, Air Force Armenia One.
In March 2009, he won the 18th Melody Amber Blindfold/Rapid tournament held in Nice, France for the second time, scoring a combined 14 points in 22 games. In the same year he took clear first place with four wins, one draw, and one loss in the second Bilbao Masters. Aronian won the Fourth FIDE Grand Prix in April 2009 with a score of 8.5/13, one point ahead of Peter Leko and compatriot Vladimir Akopian. On 2 August 2009, Aronian won the World Rapid Chess Championship. After winning the Bilbao Chess Masters Final in September 2009, his FIDE rating was just four points behind number one ranked Viswanathan Anand. In November 2009, he competed in the Mikhail Tal Memorial, at the time the strongest tournament in history (in terms of average Elo, 2763). He finished fourth with 5/9, and in the final round beat World Champion Viswanathan Anand with the black pieces in just 25 moves. In December 2009, he was awarded the title of "Honoured Master of Sport of the Republic of Armenia".
In August 2010, he attempted to defend the World Rapid Chess title, but lost to eventual champion American Gata Kamsky. In September 2010, Aronian played in the preliminary stage of the Bilbao Grand Slam in Shanghai against Vladimir Kramnik, Alexei Shirov, and Wang Hao, but could not qualify for the final tournament after losing to Kramnik in an Armageddon game after they drew the tiebreaker match. His next tournament was the Chess Olympiad, where he was Armenia's first board, leading them to a seventh-place finish, winning the silver medal on board one, and raising his rating to a career-high 2794.
In November 2010, he finished shared first at the category XXI Tal Memorial. Following this tournament, he competed in the World Blitz Championship in Moscow, where he scored 24½/38 to win the title ahead of Teimour Radjabov and defending champion Magnus Carlsen; Aronian clinched the title with a round to spare.
In March 2011 in Monaco, he won the 20th and final Melody Amber Blindfold/Rapid tournament for the third time, scoring 15½ points in 22 games.
Over his career, Aronian has a 5-1 record against Anand in classical chess. His high ranking and the fact that he was playing in the 2011 world championship Candidates tournament suggested that Aronian was a hot favorite for winning the title from Anand. However, Aronian suffered a setback by losing to Alexander Grischuk 2½-1½ in a quarter final rapid play tiebreaker following a 2-2 split in their regulation classical matches.
In November 2011 Aronian played in the category 22 Tal Memorial in Moscow in a round robin with ten players. He won two games, against Ivanchuk and Svidler, and drew the rest. He tied for first with Magnus Carlsen, each scoring 5½/9.
In January 2012, Aronian competed in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee; the field included world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, defending champion Hikaru Nakamura, and former world champion Veselin Topalov, among others. The average rating of the field was 2755, making this thirteen-round event a category 21 tournament. After twelve rounds, Aronian was in clear first place with 8.5 points going into the final round, one point ahead of Carlsen and Teimour Radjabov. In the final round, Aronian drew against Radjabov with the white pieces in the King's Indian Defense. With the draw, Aronian finished with 9/13 (+5), a tournament performance rating of 2891, and took clear first place a point ahead of Carlsen, Radjabov and Fabiano Caruana.
In December 2012, Aronian competed in the London Chess Classic, coming in 6th place with one win (vs Luke McShane), 5 draws and 2 losses. That same month, he won the SportAccord World Mind Games, a blindfold tournament, in Beijing.
In the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in January, Aronian finished second with +5-1=7, behind Carlsen.
In the 2013 Alekhine Memorial tournament, held from 20 April to 1 May, Aronian finished first, outplaying French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and scoring a vital point in the final round, then edging out second-place Gelfand on the second tiebreak (number of wins). He scored +3-1=5.
11 to 26 January: Aronian played in the 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. In the 11-round tournament, he scored 8 points (+6-1=4), winning clear first 1½ points ahead of Anish Giri and Sergey Karjakin.
From 29 January - 4 February 2014: Levon Aronian participated in the 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge, one of the major recurring chess supertournaments. He scored 9 points overall, placing him in tied 2nd-3rd along Fabiano Caruana.
13 to 31 March: He participated in the 2014 World Chess Championship challenger qualification tournament, the 2014 Candidates Tournament, in Khanty-Mansiysk Russia. He scored 6.5 points out of 14 points in the tournaments (-1 overall score) and finished tied second to last along with Peter Svidler.
2 to 13 June: He participated in the 2nd edition of the Norway Chess Supertournament. He scored 4 points out of 9 (-1 overall score) in a 4-way tie with Peter Svidler, Anish Giri, and Vladimir Kramnik.
15 to 22 June: He participated in the 2014 World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships.
27 August to 7 September: He participated in the 2nd edition of the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis Missouri, one of the strongest tournaments of all time. He scored 4 out of 10 points.
Aronian began the year by playing in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. He scored +1-3=9 (5.5 points out of a total of 13 points).
In early-February, he played in the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden Germany, scoring 50% (3.5 out of 7 points).
In mid-February, he played in the Zurich Chess Challenge 2015. He won the Blitz tournament, scoring 4 points out of 5, scored 4 points out of 10 in the Classical tournament (2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), and scored 3 points out of 5 in the Rapid tournament. He finished overall 4th in the tournament.
In April to May 2015, he participated in the Russian Team Championship on the winning team Siberia.
He participated in the Grand Chess Tour, a series of three super tournaments (Norway Chess, Sinquefield Cup, and London Chess Classic) in which players try to accumulate the most Grand Chess Tour points through the three tournaments. In Norway Chess, he scored 3 points out of 9 (9th place in the tournament).
On 1 September 2015, he won the 3rd Sinquefield Cup, held in Saint Louis Missouri, US, with a +3 score and wins over Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and Wesley So. This result put him back up into the world's Top 10.
He played in the Chess World Cup 2015, a knockout chess tournament played in Baku, Azerbaijan. This tournament was one of the last remaining qualifiers for the Chess Candidates Tournament 2016 (winner and runner-up will qualify), which determined the challenger to Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship 2016. He was eliminated in Round 2 by Grandmaster Alexander Areschenko. However, he qualified to play in the Candidates Tournament after he was selected by Armenian billionaire Samvel Karapetyan as the organizer's nominee.
In October 2015, he participated in the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Berlin, Germany. In the Rapid Championship, he placed 43rd overall, scoring 8.5/15 points. In the Blitz, he placed 11th overall, scoring 13.5/21 points.
In December 2015, Levon Aronian played in the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the London Chess Classic. In this particular individual tournament, he scored 5 points out of 9 (+1-0=8), with one victory against Veselin Topalov. Overall, he scored 22 Grand Tour Points out of a maximum 39 to earn himself a spot in the top 3 of the overall Tour standings, securing an invitation in the next Grand Chess Tour.
In April 2017, Levon Aronian played in the Grenke Classic Tournament in Baden-Baden, Germany. In the 7-round tournament, he scored 5½ points (+4-0=3), winning clear first 1½ points ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana.
On 16 June 2017, Aronian won the fifth edition of the Norway Chess Tournament (with a PR of 2918, and a full point ahead of nearest rivals), beating Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin.
In August 2017, Aronian placed joint-fourth out of ten players in the fifth edition of the Sinquefield Cup with a score of 5/9 (+3-2=4).
On 18 August 2017, Aronian won the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz with a score of 24.5/36.
From 28 May to 7 June, he competed in the sixth edition of Norway Chess, placing sixth with 4/8 (+1-1=6).
In August, he competed in the 6th Sinquefield Cup. He tied for first with Carlsen and Caruana on 5½/9 (+2-0=7), and jointly won the tournament after the trio decided to share the title.
Levon Aronian (3rd right) with his 2008 Olympiad teammates on a 2009 stamp of Armenia
Aronian played for Armenia in the Chess Olympiads of 1996, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. He took team bronze medal in 2004 and team gold medal in 2006, 2008 and 2012. In the 2010 Chess Olympiad he won the silver medal for his individual performance on board one. In the 2012 Chess Olympiad Aronian won the gold medal on board one. Aronian was a member of the gold-medal winning Armenian team at the World Team Chess Championship in 2011, where he won the silver medal on board one. Aronian again competed for Armenia in the 2013 World Team Chess Championship, where he won the gold medal on board one.
In 2003 Aronian won the Finet Chess960 open at Mainz; this qualified him for a match against Chess960 World Champion Peter Svidler at Mainz the following year, a match which he lost 4½-3½. He won the Finet Chess960 open tournament again in 2005 which earned him a rematch with Svidler in 2006, and won the match this time 5-3 to become Chess960 World Champion.
Viswanathan Anand called Aronian "a very gifted tactician", and said that "He's always looking for various little tricks to solve technical tasks." In 2011, Boris Gelfand described Aronian as "the most striking player around, with the highest creative level, in terms both of openings and original ideas in the middlegame."
In a 2010 conference, Alexei Shirov said: "Levon Aronian is the most successful player with an ultra-aggressive style. He achieves this result thanks to his rare intuition in the sharpest positions." In 2012, Sergey Karjakin, speaking about Aronian's style, made an analogy with football and compared him with Lionel Messi.
As white, Aronian plays mainly 1.d4. According to Anand, "Though he opens with 1.d4, he treats these positions like an e4-player." Aronian is an expert in the Marshall Attack.
In 2012, together with Gabriel Sargissian, Aronian founded a chess school in Yerevan, where the most talented chess players between the ages of 10 and 18 can study.
^"Reflections on the book "Levon Aronian""(PDF). Noyan Tapan. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 2014. ...a graduate of the Chess Department of the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture (later Levon Aronian himself graduated from that higher educational institution)