Webster Chess Player Wins National Collegiate Rapid Chess Championship

Aram Hakobyan Webster chess player and management student Aram Hakobyan won the U.S. Collegiate Rapid Chess Championship this past weekend, defeating 142 other college chess players in the tournament. Hakobyan finished without a single loss out of nine rounds of chess. 

He wasn’t the only Webster chess player to do well at the tournament. Two other players placed in the top 15 and Anna Sargsyan, a Computer Science major at Webster, tied to be the U.S. Women’s Collegiate Rapid Chess Champion after the end of regular play. 

Both players will compete in the upcoming U.S. Collegiate Blitz Championship on Nov. 5.

"We have started this season strongly by winning the U.S. Collegiate Rapid Championship for the third time in a row since 2021,” said Webster University Chess Coach Liem Le. “Congratulations to Aram, Anna, and all team members for their continued efforts to maintain Webster University's domination in national collegiate chess tournaments. I am excited to see their future achievements."

Rapid chess is a fast-paced game where each game lasts a maximum of 20 minutes, and each player has a five-second increment for each move. Hakobyan won five of his nine games, had a draw in three rounds (a draw is when both players concede that they can’t beat the other player), and had one player forfeit before the game started. This gave him 7.5 out of nine points at the end of regular play, tying him with two chess players from the University of Missouri in Columbia, but because he had earned more “tiebreak points,” Hakobyan was awarded the national title.

In official chess tournament rules, tiebreaks are used to determine the player who has a better claim to a prize than those who earned the same score based on the strength of his or her opposition. Different tiebreak systems often yield different results. The most common tiebreak systems include:

  • Summing the final scores of his or her opponents, sometimes discarding the highest and the lowest of these scores.
  • Adding up the cumulative scores of each player or their opponents for each round.
  • Considering results between players who earn the same score.
  • Calculating players’ rating performances or average rating of their opponents.

“I am truly honored to be a member of the Webster University Chess Team,” Hakobyan said. “It fills me with immense joy to compete for the team and contribute to bringing prestigious titles to Webster University. I look forward to continuing to represent my team in the U.S. Collegiate Blitz Championship this weekend.”

Anna SargsyanSargsyan had five wins, two draws and two losses during her nine rounds, earning six out of nine points and tying her with University of Missouri in Columbia female player Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova for the women’s national title. Gokhirjonova ended up with the championship because she had more tiebreak points than Sargsyan. Sargsyan finished in 23rd place overall in the tournament.

"The tournament was tough and playing 7 hours straight was not an easy task,” Sargsyan said. “Although I managed to tie with the highest-scoring female player, the tiebreaker placed me in second place. I am determined to improve my performance in the upcoming U.S. Collegiate Blitz Championship. I would like to express my gratitude to Coach Liem Le, and Webster University for their support during my tournaments."

Other Webster players in the tournament were:

  • Gergely Kantor - 14th place.
  • Yasser Quesada  - 15th place.
  • Harsha Bharathakoti - 27th place.
  • Annamaria Marjanovic - 42nd place.
  • David Zhurbinsky - 51st place.
  • Benjamin Forsythe - 58th place.

Last year, Marjanovic won the title of the U.S. Women’s Collegiate Blitz Champion. Blitz Chess is like Rapid chess, except faster. Each game lasts six minutes and players have two-second increment for each move. Marjanovic will be defending that title this weekend.

Both the Rapid and Blitz championships are sanctioned by the U.S. Chess Federation and are hosted by Chess.com. Both tournaments are held online.

For more information about Webster’s chess program, visit https://www.webster.edu/spice/.

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