Varuzhan Akobian immigrated to the U.S. in 2001 and a year later earned the Samford Chess Fellowship, which allows a talented junior to focus on chess for two years. The prize paid off quickly, as he tied for first in the 2002 World Open and also won the Irme Koenig GM Invitational. The following year, Akobian scored 8/9 to win the 2003 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, winning his first seven games. He was officially awarded the grandmaster title in June 2004, after which he won the World Open again, clinching it with a sparkling win against Alexander Shabalov. Akobian placed in a three-way tie for 3rd at the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship. He has joined the Resident GM rotation at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and has also become a team member of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops where he contributed to the team’s current title of World Champions of the 2017 PRO Chess League.