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Top Chess Grandmaster Returns to Lindsborg

Students from throughout the United States have gathered this week and next to participate in the chess camps offered by the Karpov Chess School in Lindsborg. About 60 students, including some as far away as Indiana, Tennessee and New Mexico, came to Lindsborg to study at the internationally recognized chess school. Several students from Kansas are also participating. Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian, who is ranked as one of the top Grandmasters in the United States, has returned to Lindsborg as the lead instructor for back-to-back chess camps that commenced on July 12 and will end on July 24.

“I think it’s fantastic that Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian, winner of the U.S. Open, is coming to Lindsborg to be the lead instructor in our camps,” said Karpov Chess School Director Tom Brownscombe. “He is a fantastic player and a fantastic instructor.”

“ We feel very fortunate to have Grandmaster Akobian returning to Lindsborg to lead our chess camp,” said Marck Cobb, president of the International Chess Institute of the Midwest. “We’re looking forward to another successful summer of chess camps.” The International Chess Institute of the Midwest operates the famed Karpov Chess School.

Akobian is one of the rising stars on the world chess scene, winning several prestigious tournaments in the past few years, including the World Open in 2007. He recently competed in Dresden, Germany in the World Chess Olympiad, winning fourth place. Varuzhan Akobian was born November 19, 1983, in Yerevan, Armenia. He began playing chess at age 5 when his family moved to Mongolia. Due to the inordinately harsh weather conditions there, “Var” and his sister were encouraged to stay indoors and play chess. In this unusual circumstance, Varuzhan’s intense love of chess was born.

Var and his family returned to Armenia when he was seven and he began studies at a chess academy created by the Armenian Ministry of Education specifically for talented chess players. Here, Var received instruction from his first real chess coaches, Gagik Sargissian and IM Ashot Nadanian. Vahag Grigorian, a high-ranking Minister in the Armenian government, provided financial support that enabled Varuzhan to compete in tournaments outside of Armenia.

In 1992, Var qualified to play in his first rated tournament, the Armenian Junior Chess Championship; the most prestigious chess tournament in Armenia in which he earned 3rd place in the under 10 (years) section. In 1993, Varuzhan defeated every player in his section and earned 1st place in the event; a feat he would accomplish three times. At age 9, he participated in the World Chess Championship in Czechoslovakia, his first appearance on an international stage and where he tied for 8th in a field of 50 participants.

In 1994 and 1996, Var competed in the European Junior Championship where he placed 4th each time. In 1995, he won the tournament in the under 12 section and took 3rd place in the World Rapid Chess Championship held in Paris. In 1997, Varuzhan played in one of chess’s most prestigious tournaments: the Kasparov Cup in Moscow. Only the top 2 players from any given country may participate in the event. Var took 2nd place, ceding 1st to Levon Aronian, now among the top 10 players in the world. Varuzhan’s performance at the Kasparov Cup earned him a monthly scholarship which allowed him to procure exceptional coaching and attend chess retreats conducted by world renowned Grandmasters. In 1999, Var earned the National Master title at the age of 15 and at 16, became a FIDE International Master. In 2001, he moved to the US and 1 week after his 20th birthday in November 2003, earned FIDE’s highest title, International Grandmaster.

Var was the 2002 Samford Fellowship recipient, an honor given annually to the most promising chess player in the US and in 2005, he was the Alajuela Open Champion with 8 of 9 points and was undefeated. In 2006, Varuzhan became a Bronze Medalist, competing on the US team at the Chess Olympiad. That same year at San Marino, he tied for 1st Place with a performance rating of approximately 2800. In 2007, Varuzhan continued his success by tying for 3rd Place in the 2nd Chess Festival in Spain with draws against former World Champion Anatoly Karpov and GMs Bacrot and Sokolov (who tied for 1st Place). He then became World Open Champion for the second time since 2004. He immediately followed up his victory with another 1st place at the Continental Championship in Colombia; a performance that qualified him for the 2007 World Cup. Earlier in 2007, Var was featured in an MTV program titled: “True Life: I’m a Genius” which followed him through his daily life as a chess grandmaster. In, 2008, GM Akobian won the Doeberl Cup; the largest and strongest open tournament organized in Australia in the past 46 years. He followed up that victory with another huge win by becoming the 2008 Chicago Open Champion.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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