By Christina Hansen
SPECIAL TO THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Grandmaster of chess is on his game
April 27, 2013 7:45 PM EDT
Varuzhan Akobian was a boy of only 5 years old when he discovered the game of chess.
His father was his first opponent, and the match took place shortly after Akobian’s family moved to Mongolia from his home country of Armenia. The bone-chilling weather conditions outside kept Akobian cooped up indoors for long stretches, and his father must have hoped the game was complex enough to keep his young son occupied for days — even weeks — at a time.
As Akobian stared down at the checkered board for the first time that day, tentatively sliding rooks and pawns with his tiny fingers, he had no way of knowing that chess was to become his calling, purpose and passion. But that one match was all it took to hook Akobian for life.
”I fell in love with it, and I’ve been playing ever since,” he said.
Twenty-three years later, Akobian is a professional player who has achieved the elite rank of Grandmaster. Now settled in Topeka, he is preparing to compete in the 2013 U.S. Chess Championships beginning May 2 in St. Louis. Akobian will be one of only 24 elite chess players competing for the coveted title at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis, a spot he earned based on his exceptional competitive ranking.
Up for grabs at this tournament is the title of U.S. champion, accompanied by a grand prize of $30,000. Furthermore, if any competitor is able to reproduce Bobby Fischer’s 1963-64 U.S. Championship performance of winning every game, he will earn a bonus prize of $64,000. The top five players also will qualify to play in the World Championship cycle.
Akobian’s success is the result of years of dedication and discipline. Mastering the game of chess meant learning a multitude of smaller lessons along the way, many of which he has found to be applicable to everyday life. Akobian reflected on those lessons as he shared his story.
Every move must be carefully planned.
Akobian entered his first chess tournament around the time he was 7 years old. The experience apparently didn’t make much of an impression on him, as he can’t recall the result today. It would be another three years before Akobian started to dream of becoming a professional chess player.
Full article here.
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– GM Susan Polgar