As we mentioned in our previous blog, Lalibela was extremely lucky to be visited by Levon Grigori Aronian, a chess Grandmaster with the 4th highest Elo rating of all time and world cup winner.

Despite staying with us for only two nights, Levon still carved out time in his holiday to come and spend time with the children of our local community.

Charmain, our wonderful Head of Community Development, runs a chess club after school. Students from Rhodes University spend time in the afternoons teaching and practicing chess with the young school children.

Levon and his wife, Arianne, also an international chess master, were kind enough to come out and visit the community centre so that Levon could play chess with the children. We set out a ring of 10 chess boards, kindly gifted to us by Levon, so that he could simultaneously play our chess club children. This was an easy feat after he recently spent 6 hours in Johannesburg playing 107 games simultaneously!

Needless to say, there was much excitement and anticipation from the children, who spent hours playing and practicing the morning of his visit. However, the room soon quietened down once the playing started, with many a head scratch taking place. After playing multiple games, Levon then sat down and gave a quick lesson on the basic rules of chess to those who didn’t know them.

The end of the chess, however, was not the end of the visit. He then took to the outdoors, playing basketball with the some of our sportier kids.

We are extremely grateful to Levon and Arianne for taking the time to spend the morning with the children of our local community. It was an incredibly special experience for our amateur chess players and a wonderful opportunity to be inspired and encouraged by one of the world’s best chess players.

We wish them safe travels home and hope to see them soon.

Our aspiring chess players practicing before Levon’s arrival.

Levon shaking hands before playing his first move.

Deep in concentration, the games ensue.

The day ends outside with a basketball game.