Varuzhan Akobian is world open chess champion. He was born in Armenia. Akobian's familiy moved from his homeland of Armenia to Mongolia in 1988 when he was only 5. Since 40 below zero temperatures in Mongolia made it hard to play outside, Akobian's father taught him to play chess.
"Immediately I fell in love with the game," Akobian said.
At age 9 he played in his first rated tournament, the Armenian Junior's Chess Championship, and won third place in his age group. A year later he played in his first international competition and continued to place high in other tournaments during the 1990s. In 2002, he won first place in the 30th World Open. His goal is to eventually become world champion.
In the meantime, he plays chess for about four hours every day, works out at the gym and spends time helping others improve their game. As in December 2004 grand master Varuzhan Akobian visited Salt Lake City, Utah. Local schoolchildren and Utah Chess Association members had the chance to match wits with the world open chess champion at the McGillis School. The Mountain West Chess Association paid for Varuzhan Akobian's visit from his home in Los Angeles to teach strategies and play a whole lot of chess - at times without looking at the board - and against as many as 30 people at once. "It's like having your favorite movie star come to town and stay at your house," said Grant Hodson, chess association president.
- Utah children go head-to-head with chess champion, By Tyler Peterson. Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, Utah. December 19, 2004