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.
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.
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!