Varuzhan Akobian – Yury Shulman match

Heavyweight chess match in Lake County, California

akobian shulman

A fantastic event is coming up next month with California’s #1 GM Varuzhan Akobian meeting the U.S. Champion GM Yury Shulman in a four day rapid match with a blitz finale. The two great tacticians of the chess board, both members of the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist team, will meet in the California’s First GrandMaster Invitational World Class Chess Event which will be held April 22nd-25th 2009 in Lake County, California.

Organizer of this event is Thomas Southerland and the venue is Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino. The match will be live on the official site and on the pages of


Day 1: Two rapid games (G30) starting at 11:00 and 12:30

Day 2: Two rapid games (G30) starting at 11:00 and 12:30

Day 3: Two rapid games (G30) starting at 11:00 and 12:30

Day 4: Ten blitz games (5 min) starting at 12:00

With average rating over 2630 ELO, Akobian and Shulman are surely among the most popular chess players in the USA. They enjoy the status of celebrities both in and away from the chess board.

GM Varuzhan Akobian

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.

Here are the most recent achievements of GM Akobian, a truly impressive list hinting for future carrer growth.

»2009 Gibtelcom Masters – 7.5/10 – Gibraltar, UK – 3rd Place Undefeated

»2008 2nd Spice Cup – 5.5/9 – Lubbock, Texas – 1st Place Undefeated

»2008 38th Chess Olympiad – 4/6 – Dresden, Germany – Bronze Medal

»2008 Chicago Open – 5.5/7 – Chicago, Illinois – Champion

»2008 Doeberl Cup – 7.5/9 – Canberra, Australia – Champion / clear 1st undefeated

»2007 Miami Open – 6.5/9 – Miami, Florida – 1st Place – undefeated

»2007 World Open – 6.5/9 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – World Open Champion

»2007 Continental Chess Championship – 8/11 – Cali, Colombia – First Place

Despite a very busy schedule, GM Akobian somehow finds time to study approximately 25 hours per week, train with weights and exercise for about 7 hours weekly, coach students, maintain his website, write articles for chess publications, give simultaneous exhibitions and, of course, compete in and win major chess events around the world. And on top of that he never declines a good interview ot TV appearance, like the MTV program”True Life: I’m a Genius” which followed him through his daily life as a chess grandmaster.

akobian shulman

GM Yury Shulman

Yury was born in Belarus (former USSR) in 1975. His first formal chess lesson was at age 6 with coach Tamara Golovey. He started lessons with I.M. Albert Kapengut at 12, and subsequently studied under Boris Gelfald.

During the development of his chess carreer, Yury attended the Belarus State Politechnical Academy and completed his undergraduate studies at the State Academy of Sports, Belarus. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and an M.B.A. specializing in Finance.

Since 1994, Yury has authored numerous articles on chess for publications including New in Chess, Chess Life, and Chess Informant.

Yury is the founder of the Yury Shulman Chess Without Borders not-for-profit organization. Yury and his volunteer community are privileged to use chess as a medium for philanthropic causes. Since 2005 this included volunteer visits and book drives for Chicago public schools and contributions of a portion of tournament and chess camp proceeds to non-profit entities locally and worldwide.

USCH Shulman

GM Yury Shulman, photo courtesy of MonRoi

Despite all the additional activities, Yury Shulman retains top chess form. In 2008 he convincingly conquered the US Chess Championship. Here is a list of significant achievements by GM Yury Schulman.

» National Belarus champion (June 1994) and co-champion (1998)

» Top Sportsman Award, Republic of Belarus (1994)

» Member of Belarusian Chess Olympic team (1994-1998)

» European Junior Champion (Israel 1995)

» Winner of A. Zaitsev Memorial (Vladivostok 1995)

» Winner of Boleslavsky Memorial (Minsk 1995, 1996)

» Co-Winner of World Open (Philadelphia 2001)

» Co-Winner of National Open (Las Vegas 2000)

» Co-Winner of American Open (Los Angeles 2002)

» Texas State Champion (2000)

» University of Texas at Dallas Chess captain, 2001 Pan-American Champions and 2001 and 2002 Final Four Winners (2000-2003)

» Winner of Governor’s Cup (2001, 2002, 2004)

» Tied for 3rd in US championships (San Diego 2004, Stillwater 2007)

» Co-winner of Millennium chess festival (2005)

» Illinois State Champion (2005)

» Qualified to 1/16 in the World Cup (Khanty-Mansiisk, Russia 2005)

» Runner-up for the US Championship (San Diego, 2006)

» Coach of the US Women’s Olympic Team (Turin, Italy 2006)

» Winner of Montreal Invitational (Montreal, Canada, 2008)

» Olympic Bronze Medalist, Team USA (Dresden, Germany 2008)

How to arrive at Lake Country?

From San Francisco or San Jose: Take U.S Highway 101 north to Ukiah. Then exit right onto CA-20 east toward Upper Lake/Williams. Robinson Rancheria will be on your left just before NICE, CA. An alternate from U.S. Highway 101, is to take Hwy. 175 in Hopland, proceed to Hwy. 29 and turn left. At CA-20 in Upper Lake, turn right and continue until you see Robinson Rancheria on the left.

From Oakland: Take I-580 west or U.S. Highway 880 toward San Francisco (Portions toll). Merge onto US-101 north through San Francisco, cross Golden Gate Bridge. Continue on US-101 past Ukiah. Take CA-20 east toward Upper Lake/Williams. Robinson Rancheria will be on your left .
An alternate route through the wine country is to take U.S. Highway 80 to Vallejo, exit Columbus Parkway and cross over freeway to Hwy 37/Hwy 29. Follow Hwy. 29 to CA-20.

Note: If you take Hwy 29 to the Lucerne Cutoff be sure to turn left at Hwy. 20.

From Sacramento: Take I-5 north towards Williams/Redding. Take the CA-20 exit west toward Clear Lake. Stay on CA-20 passing through Clearlake Oaks, Glenhaven, Lucerne and after passing through Nice, CA, Robinson Rancheria is on your right. From Redding: Take I-5 South toward Sacramento. Take the CA-20 exit west toward Clear Lake. Stay on CA-20 passing through, Clearlake Oaks, Glenhaven, Lucerne and Nice, CA. Robinson Rancheria will be on your right.

More about the Akobian – Schulman match

Official website

Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino

akobian shulman

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