About a month ago, super Grandmaster Levon Aronian visited our office for a few days. We had some brainstorming sessions with Levon sharing ideas on how to improve the ChessUp board and ways to use it as a training tool, even for someone at his level. While I have known Levon for a long time, it was an amazing experience to spend some one-on-one time with such a brilliant player discussing chess.
Levon playing against the AI
One of the most memorable moments was the day after we played some blitz games. I chose my favorite opening, the French Defense, and we played some interesting games (full disclosure: I was using assistance). The next day I was surprised to see him analyzing those games on his computer. He didn’t like the positions he got out of the opening, so he was looking for improvement. “This is how I work,” Levon explained. It didn’t occur to me that someone of his caliber would give a second thought to our casual games but in reality it’s his work ethic and the passion for the game that make him an exceptional player.
Levon and I discussed creating lesson content for the users and analyzed one of his favorite games where he chased his opponent’s king down the board.
Analyzing the game Aronian vs Volikitin on the ChessUp board
After Levon’s visit, we both traveled to Saint Louis to play in the American Cup, a double elimination tournament. It was certainly the most interesting and fun tournament I have been invited to. I have played in 3 single elimination tournaments (2021 Women’s World Cup, 2012 and 2015 Women’s World Championships). I did not survive in any of them for very long and traveling all the way to another part of the world only to be eliminated after one or two matches wasn’t exactly fun. I liked the idea of having another chance to come back and playing in faster time controls. The 8-player tournament was a series of mini-matches. It was an up and down event for me where I had to make a few comebacks after losing the first game. Ultimately, I finished third. Levon finished second in his tournament, after losing in the finals to the winner of the tournament, Fabiano Caruana.
Me at the start of the American Cup
In July, all three of us will travel to Chennai, India as part of the US team to play in the Chess Olympiad. I have been a member of our Olympiad team since 2008 and am looking forward to representing the US once again. This will be Levon’s first time representing the US - he has three gold Olympiad medals while representing Armenia.
In other ChessUp news, we now have an opening book! The opening book is based on the most popular lines played in Grandmaster games. This is a feature that I am very excited about and will continue to work on expanding. I think our users will find it very helpful for their own opening preparation.