Levon Aronian Called Chess "A Game of Egoists"

Время публикации: 01.12.2011 00:27 | Последнее обновление: 01.12.2011 00:27

Journalists continue trying to understand what is going on in the strongest Grandmasters' heads. We offer you a part of Levon Aronian's interview to "Yerevan" magazine. 


-Do you have your own definition of chess?

- It’s a dialogue. Each move is a message to the opponent. Moving the pieces you’re practically saying: you know, I think the game will be decided like this, so I’m going to make this and this will happen to you; and he replies: go ahead, I don’t believe you. Or: do whatever you like, I’m not going to get in your way, I’ll simply take it calm. Chess also has fatalists who accept their destiny. There also are heretics who don’t believe you, they don’t believe in anything and try to demonstrate that with every move. This constant conversation between the players gives chess some kind of intimacy.

- For the spectators it looks as the player bent over the board is thinking solely about his next move…

-Not really. What silly things don’t enter your mind! As usually, you’re studying your opponent. When you’re playing against somebody you get to understand him better. And not only what kind of player he is but what kind of person he is. What he likes, what he doesn’t. That’s both amusing and essential and it also diverts from the game. In general, the less you think about the game the calmer and better it goes; and personally I don’t like to overstrain myself. And, as a rule, chess players talk to themselves during the game. 

- Aloud?

- No, but you’re trying to guess what he’s saying all the time. You follow his eyes, gestures, behavior. Often the situation on the board is still unclear, while you feel how uncomfortable it is for your opponent, you see how concerned he is, you literally hear him bewailing in his mind and you understand, if you manage to stay calm success is yours. The art of psychoanalyses is one the important elements of the game. If it’s not the first game against this opponent then you know which course of events he dislikes and try to thrust it on him. For instance, there are players who dislike when they’re forced to think on each move. Everyone has a vulnerable spot.     

- And where is yours?

- I can be outplayed in the beginning of the game. I’m lazy and, as a rule, I’m not preparing for the game that good. The other problem is when I start to take risks. I’m hasty and sometimes it gets hard for me to stop myself. 

- So it seems that any encounter is on two fronts – a struggle against the opponent and a struggle against yourself.

- Exactly. The greatest player can beat his strong rivals but lose to weaker ones. That’s possible if he’s bad at talking to himself, if he can’t understand his problem, his strong and weak points, what he loves and what he doesn’t. Having all chances to win he starts to feel discomfort and loses the game. He loses to himself.   

- Chess is a game of individualists…

- I’d even say of egoists. As all individual forms of sport are. You know, the game itself is very lonely. The best chess players are, as a rule, introverts, unsociable and reticent. I name all that with one word "egoism”.

- But it’s also a game of intellectuals…

- Putting all together you get “smart bastards”.    


Full interview 


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