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Levon Aronian: My country is under assault. I will join the army if necessary

Chess, by reputation, is a game of war played out in the mind. But war is becoming very real for one chess grandmaster.  

Levon Aronian, one of Armenia’s top sports stars, has revealed he is ready to fight for his country after seeing a conflict break out at home with neighbour state Azerbaijan.

The world number 9 has been in Norway competing at the Altibox Norway Chess tournament but said he will join the army if necessary when he returns.

In an emotional interview, Aronian told chess24’s Kaja Snare that he already has friends who have been casualties of the fighting that started last month.

Speaking from Norway, Aronian said:

My country is under assault by Turkey and Azerbaijan.

We are trying to protect ourselves and our right to live in peace. For every Armenian in the world this is now the main concern. I am going back tomorrow and will do everything I can to help my country overcome this trouble.

I will do everything to help my country with everything I can. If it is necessary for my country for me to be in the army I will do that.

Aronian made the comments a day after beating Magnus Carlsen in the final round of Norway Chess.

But despite an impressive third-place finish, Aronian also admitted his chess has suffered as a result of the stress of turmoil at home.

Aronian: 'I haven't had any normal sleep'

“I can tell you that since the war started September 27 I haven't had any normal sleep and have not been able to concentrate on chess,” Aronian said.

“At the same time, it has allowed me to relax because I care so much about my friends and family who are there in the war so I think I am just letting myself go. Maybe that is why my results were good, because I didn’t care.”