Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Once an Armenian...

| Permalink

Trust the Armenian news services to point out that "Armenian Grand Master Varouzhan Hakobyan became the winner of the chess international tournament in San Marino together with Vadim Milov from Switzerland." The report does confess later that Akobian, as we know him, has lived in the US for five years. Both scored 7.5/9; Milov took the title on tiebreaks. There were dozens of GMs as many Olympiad players stuck around to play in this strong event, which appears to have flown under the radar of the eternally reliable TWIC. Check out the official site, if only to confirm for yourself that the top-level domain ".sm" isn't anything kinky.


It didn't fly under the radar of TWIC -it was on the weekly digest published on Monday. It was the 3rd item and mentioned right after the Leon tournament

Posted by: Al at June 15, 2006 04:39

Hmmm... Mig, are you posting this thread to see me starting a new troll? I find it a lil' bit provocative !!! But today, I don't feel in the mood for trolling.

Today, a regular guy coming from a regular country were people have regular genes (like anywhere else) has had a little bit of luck and has won a good tournament.
Posted by: Ruslan at June 15, 2006 04:56

"Trust the Armenian news services"...Sure, why not? At least they reported the event. Did any American news services (I'm not certain of Akobian's citizenship, but he represented the USA at Turin) report the result?
Posted by: geeker at June 15, 2006 06:32

On her blog, Susan Polgar says "V. Akobian has been citizen of the USA for the last five years."

Lived in US for 5 years, or citizen for 5 years (or both by some unusual trick)?
Posted by: gg at June 15, 2006 06:36

Var has his green card; reasonably sure he's not a citizen yet.
Posted by: cynical at June 15, 2006 07:05

Some days you got it, some days you ain't...
Posted by: Babson at June 15, 2006 09:48

Well, would Dutch people have a right to feel violated if an American paper had reported on some tournament victory won by GM DeFirmian (and had described him as an American Grandmaster) during the many years he lived in the Netherlands?

Not that an American paper would or did bother, but I'm speaking hypothetically, you understand. Inter alia, DeFirmian is now back in the U.S. (Not sure what federation he was affiliated with when he lived abroad; though I read recently he was a coach or captain with the US Olympiad squad this year; don't even know if being a coach or captain requires affiliation with same country, though I strongly suspect it does.)
Posted by: flyonthewall at June 15, 2006 10:55

In order: 1) I meant it's not being covered on the TWIC homepage.

2) The fiercely loyal, if that's the word, Armenian community closely follows and embraces the achievements of the Armenian diaspora, something definitely not true everywhere.

Nick de Firmian has lived in Denmark for many years but has never changed his citizenship or chess federation affiliation away from American.
Posted by: Mig at June 15, 2006 12:10

Well, if Chessbase accounts of the Gormally fiasco can be believed, Akobian showed excellent Armenian solidarity by going after Gormally following the swing at Aronian. One more reason for the Armenian media to give him props for the tournament result.
Posted by: geeker at June 15, 2006 13:12

Unless I've missed it, we still don't know the identity of the person/people who "thumped," in Jonathan Speelman's vivid language, Gormally the next day in a cafe. One report said it was members of the Armenian team, which looks like a bad guess. Speelman was there at the time and would have recognized a player. I suppose the original descriptions of "young Armenian chess fans" will have to do.
Posted by: Mig at June 15, 2006 14:18

I wasn't referring to the next day, but to the immediate aftermatn. Frederic Friedel's story at chessbase.com reads:

"Gormally's action was fairly harmless, but he had violated one of the basic laws of nature and evolution, which says: never attack an Armenian. Immediately a random countryman of Aronian, whom we shall call GM X (and who happens to be a reserve player on the US team, rated 2575), rushed forward with murder in his eyes. Figuratively speaking, we believe."
Posted by: geeker at June 15, 2006 14:34

I know, but there's no mystery there. Would the Masked Thumpers please stand up?
Posted by: Mig at June 15, 2006 16:05

Hey Mig:

Can you inform how the next US championship is going to be structured ? They have drastically reduced the number of qualifiers.Sorry for off-topic.
Posted by: peach at June 15, 2006 21:54

Fights like an Armenian to support an Armenian - sounds like he is Armenian, not American.
Posted by: gg at June 16, 2006 00:17

Sounds like what a big brother would do if his younger brother was getting roughed up at a party ... whether Armenian or American. The two have known each other for a number of years.
Posted by: RP at June 18, 2006 23:52

Certainly Varuzhan was justified in wanting to protect his fellow Armenian and friend, but I'm not so sure that nationality would determine whether one intervenes. I believe friendship was the cause here. Had the same thing happened to any one of my friends from an African or Caribbean federation, I'm sure I would have gotten involved.

Gormally was fortunate... he could have pushed a more combative person and gotten beaten within an inch of his life.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at June 21, 2006 01:54


a) would you have gotten involved if your friend was not from an African or Caribbean federation?

b) what if an African was fighting an American, who would you help?
Posted by: nazkar at June 21, 2006 10:14


I'm not sure why any of this matters. In the heat of the moment, one doesn't think about the questions you are raising. I would simply help my friend in the given situation.

I believe if Akobian would have done the same thing for another close friend of another origin... given the circumstances.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at June 21, 2006 12:58


Well you had time to think and you thought it mattered enough to specify you would help a friend from an African or Caribbean federation.

Should your European or Asian friends doubt your willingness to weigh in on their behalf?
Posted by: nazkar at June 22, 2006 08:13


You're sticking your foot in it. Daaim's site specializes in covering chess achievements of players from Africa and the Caribbean; so obviously he has more friends from those areas.

Here's a tip: when being an online provocateur, learn how to pick your spots. If you think someone has a hidden agenda that's none too pretty and you want to force them to acknowledge it in a way more likely to embarrass them than you, be patient and wait for them to lob you a fat pitch. (The statistical "debate" over whether the first move confers an opening initiative is one of very few fat pitches I've seen come from Daaim.)

That's a smart policy even when matching "wits" with easy targets who don't have any, such as Stern. And Daaim is far from an easy target.
Posted by: flyonthewall at June 22, 2006 09:24


I was making the point that home nationality is not always the strongest factor in conflict, but that friendship may be the overriding factor.

I don't believe anyone should be concerned whether anyone else should "weigh-in" or not. If the person is an adult, they should assume that they will be dealing with the situation on their own. Whoever wants to "weigh-in" it is their choice to do so or not. Was Aronian expecting Akobian to seek revenge on Gormally. Who knows?

The point is the person doesn't have to be from the same country for one to feel compelled to help. What happened was merely wrong, but sometimes friendship or acquaintance is not the sole motivator... it may be principle. I know of a case where an angry man struck a woman after they had a car accident. An onlooker rushed in and beat the man within an inch of his life... put him in the hospital. He was arrested for assault, but the woman found the man's location and bailed him out. He didn't know the woman he protected, but what happened was wrong and he felt strong enough to do something about it.

Anyone in that room could have chastised Gormally. People make concerted decisions in the heat of the moment. Sometimes it is because of principle, sometimes nationality and/or ethnicity, religion and sometimes it is friendship. I believe it was the latter in this case. It is not so hard to understand.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at June 22, 2006 10:24

Seems easy to me. Ethnicity (race, color, as you will) is a big factor in Daaim's decisions about which of his friends will benefit from his protection.

The fact that he runs an ethnicity-based chess website merely supports that conclusion.
Posted by: nazkar at June 22, 2006 12:13

Well, nazkar, a racist will see race behind everything (just as an anti-semite will see Jews and "Jewishness" lurking behind everything).

You interpret Daaim's associations in your own way. The rest of us see the innocent explanation set forth in my earlier comment, and in Daaim's comments.

It may be worth noting that while Daaim runs an ethnicity-based chess web site, he tends not to attribute sinister racial motives to those on the other side when he reports on controversies involving people of color.

For example, when reporting about idiot webmaster A.J. Goldsby's breathtakingly pigheaded (and completely unfounded) campaign to discredit the H.B. Global Chess Challenge before it took place, not once did Daaim or his allies hint that Goldsby's animus might have something to do with racism (even unintentional). (The potential racial angle, of course, is that GM Maurice Ashley was the frontman for the HB tournament.)
Posted by: flyonthewall at June 22, 2006 12:52


I meet people like you every now and then. Those that accuse others of racism, but are only smelling their own dung.

Yes... we often choose who we will protect in conflicts/wars... if we are honest with ourselves. Certainly, ethnicity/nationality could play a factor as it often does, or it could be in myriad of factors such as religion, age, physical stature and affiliation.

As far as the ethnically-based site nazkar... you are late and apparently never visited the site before reading this blog. The site has been up for five years has 5000+ pages and has been visited in almost 200 countries and territories. It has a large following in non-Black populous because people simply want to know about CHESS... something new... something fresh... a perspective you can't get anywhere else.

I run a site because there is a lack of information about a particular major segment of the chess-playing community. There are countless sites that do this with different demographics. Is an Armenian website racist because they focus on Armenian chess? You don't ethnically-based or nationality-based sites? Tough.

The Chess Drum includes all types of chess news around the world and is available for public consumption without subscription. I was in Calvia and Turin for the Olympiads and travel at my own expense to cover chess events and invest hours to present chess news and reports. If people can't see the good in that, then that's too bad.

What have you done for chess?
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at June 22, 2006 23:07


I did not accuse you of anything - I just challenged you to think about the way you chose to describe which friends you would choose to help.

I also have looked at Chess Drum over at least the past year, and I do not find anything wrong with it, it is interesting.

But maybe all forms of ethnic focus are racist, and perhaps some forms are harmless or even useful. You so freely accuse others of racism, attached to odd comments about dung.

So, Daaim, are you racist, and if so is there anything wrong with your form of racism?
Posted by: nazkar at June 22, 2006 23:59


We all greatly appreciate the work which you do on the website.

Don't feed the trolls.

Best wishes,
Posted by: peach at June 23, 2006 00:20

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 14, 2006 7:56 AM.

    Pics 07 - Olympiad 2012 was the previous entry in this blog.

    UKR Stealth Tourney is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.