Armenian born American Grandmaster Akobian earned his Grandmaster status at the age of 20. He was the US Junior Champion in 2003, the winner of World Open in 2002, 2004, and 2007, and helped the US win the Silver Medal at the 2009 World Team Championship.G
Var’s childhood in Mongolia had such harsh winters that his father forbade him and his sister Armine from playing outside. He taught them chess, which fascinated the young Akobian. “From the very beginning,” Var says, “I was different from the other chess kids. It was never just a game for me. I always wanted to be a Grandmaster, and knew that I would do what it takes.” As a teenager living in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, Akobian spent his days on chess and soccer. His teachers encouraged him to focus on chess, so much that Var says: “If I went to high school in here [in the U.S], I never could have spent so much energy on chess.”
In 2002, a year after immigrating to the U.S., he earned the Samford Chess Fellowship. The Fellowship grant, which allowed the young Var to study and improve his chess, yielded quick results with a tie for first at the 2002 World Open and First Place at the Irme Koenig GM invitational. The following year, he won the 2003 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, earned his GM Norms in June 2004, and then won the World Open for a second time.
An excellent positional player, GM Akobian admires the games and style of Armenian Hero, former World Champion Tigran Petrosian. He admires him so much so that he became an expert in the French Defense, one of Petrosian’s most played openings with the black pieces. Var offers this advice for aspiring club players: “Don’t expect to see constant improvement. You build knowledge and work hard, and after a while you’ll see a big breakthrough.”