Arianne Caoili, Philippines’ chess master, and a prominent figure both in the chess world and in Armenia, where she lived, died in Yerevan, the country’s capital. Her husband, Levon Aronian, a grandmaster ranked No. 7 in the world, announced her death on Twitter. Caoili died two weeks after being seriously injured in a car crash.
In the insular world of chess, Caoili (pronounced kay-OH-lee), who had done some modeling when she young, stood out — not only for her talents as a player but also for the glamour she brought to what is often thought of as an unglamorous game.
During the time of her death and condolences poured in from every top chess player, including Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, and Garry Kasparov, the former world champion. Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, also offered condolences on his website. “Her memory,” he wrote, “will remain bright in the hearts of the Armenian people.”
It was reports that Caoili was in an accident last March 15, when her vehicle “crashed into a supporting column under the bridge near the intersection of Sebastia Street and Isakov Avenue.” Caoili reportedly underwent multiple before passing away at the age of 33.
Caoili’s first major international victory was in 2000 when she won the Asian Girls Under-16 Championship tournament in Bagac, the Philippines, on her 14th birthday. She went on to win the London Chess Classic Women’s Invitational in 2009 and, that same year, the Oceania Women’s Zonal, a qualifier for the world championship.
She played seven times in the Chess Olympiad, the game’s preeminent international team event. She represented her native Philippines in 1998 and 2000 and, after moving, represented Australia in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. She was awarded the title women’s international master by the World Chess Federation, the game’s governing body.
Arianne Bo Caoili was born on Dec. 22, 1986, in Manila, the second daughter of a Dutch mother and a Filipino father who was a minister. In 1989 the family moved to Australia, where she learned to play chess at age 6.
She and Aronian met in 1996 at the World Youth Chess Championship in Las Palmas, Spain; they married in 2017 in Armenia, where she had moved in 2013. Among the 300 guests at their wedding was Serzh Sargsyan, then the president of Armenia.
Photo Courtesy: Fairfax Media – Getty Images, sunstar.com.ph, Pinterest, Maria Emelianova – Chess.com