Advanced Chess Club Hosts Grandmaster

Kate Krantz

One event. One grandmaster. Ten competitors.

The room stood still, the clock ticked and the tension thickened as California’s No. 1 rated chess player engaged in 10 concurrent matches.

The organizer and president of the Advanced Chess Organization (ACOGCC), Artur Aghajanyan, welcomed Varuzhan Akobian to GCC on April 23.

Akobian, 27, has been the No. 1 rated player in California for seven years and is the No. 4 rated player in the U.S.

Akobian held a lecture and simultaneous exhibition in SC212 while GCC students and other participants waited for the grandmaster to demonstrate his technique.
He began playing chess when he was 5 years old, eventually turning an indoor pastime into a lifetime passion. “Everytime you play chess, you create something new,” said Akobian.

Akobian participated in his first rated tournament in 1992, the Armenian Junior Chess Championship. It was the most prestigious chess tournament in Armenia and he ranked third place in the 10-year-old and younger category.

As the years passed, Akobian traveled to 40 different countries and competed in numerous tournaments, one in which he earned the National Master title at the age of only 15 in 1999. At 16, he became a FIDE (World Chess Federation) International Master.
One week after his 20th birthday, Akobian moved to the U.S. In November 2003, he achieved FIDE’s highest title, International Grandmaster.

From then on, Akobian’s career as a grandmaster chess player was promising. With much success, he was the 2004 and 2007 World Open Champion, 2006 and 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist with the U.S. Team, 2009 National Open Champion and 2010 World Team Silver Medalist with the U.S.Team.

Taking into consideration that the life of a grandmaster is busy. Akobian, finds time to study roughly 25 hours and train with weights and exercise for about seven hours on a weekly basis. He also teaches students, manages his Web site, conducts synchronized exhibitions and hosts lectures, writes articles for chess publications, and competes in and wins major chess events around the world.

“If you believe in yourself and have some kind of goal, you will get there. If you don’t have a goal, there is no desire,” said Akobian.

Some say games are based on “beginner’s luck,” but that is not the case for a 14-year-old boy in regards to chess. Fulton College Prep student Harout Harutunyan was the youngest participant to play against Akobian here.

Surprisingly, Harutunyan was the fifth person to lose. He had only been playing chess for two months compared to the majority of the college student competitors who had been playing five times longer than him. GCC student Vartan Shamirian was however, the last player standing.

“Chess makes you challenge yourself and you should always think harder,” said Harutunyan.
The players unanimously agreed that chess is not a simple board game. It requires knowledge, creativity, and most importantly: strategy. One must think seven to eight moves ahead of the opponent.

“It was complete domination,” said Citrus College student Michael Chen when referring to his duel with the grandmaster.
According to another Citrus student, Edward Reyes, he, like most of the players began, with a familiar move, and after approximately 10 moves, using their pawns, rooks and bishops, the battle went downhill.
“Considering there were so many players, I thought he would miss something at the very least but he didn’t,” said Chen.

Competing against 10 participants was like a warm-up for Akobian. He has played up to 54 participants in New Mexico, in which he tied one game and won all the rest.

Although Akobian is a professionally trained chess player and grandmaster, nerves still come into play but do, however, fade subconsciously during the game.
Akobian advised chess players to continuously look 10 moves in advance, making the challenger’s moves easier to predict. In addition, he recommended studying the concepts of chess as well as being consistent, patient and, most importantly, having enthusiasm for the game itself.

“It doesn’t matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement,” said Akobian.

The event was an overall success for the Advanced Chess Organization, despite Akobian’s 10 wins.

For more information on the Advanced Chess Club contact Artur Aghajanyan at [email protected] For more information about Varuzhan Akobian, visit