AUA Chess Teams Participate in KCF University Cup

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — Every year in February, AUA chess teams participate in the annual Kasparov Chess Foundation University Cup. This year, 116 teams from all over the world competed in three rating categories. The three AUA teams were the sole representatives from Armenia at the tournament. The AUA_A team came second in the 1800-1999 rating category. 

During the pandemic, the Kasparov Chess Foundation came up with this idea that allows both amateur and professional players to participate in international events without having to travel. For some students, this year’s competition was the first such experience, while others have been active in the AUA chess community throughout their study years. “I participated in this tournament for the first time, and the process and results were gratifying,” says Veronika Khachatryan (BSDS ‘26), AUA_A team member and data science freshman, adding “Even though we were in the top 20 out of 116, which is a pretty good score, I believe we could have played better.” 

Online competitions not only allow our students to test their abilities, but also help them to combine studies with their passion for chess. “Balancing time and energy between playing chess and studying is challenging, especially when you’re in your first year of university. During the first semester, I participated in the World Championship abroad and it affected my studies. Fortunately, competitions among universities are online and primarily held in the evenings. On the one hand, it is convenient to balance games and classes and, on the other, it is hard to display one’s full potential after a full day in class,” Veronika reflects on her experience. 

Kristine Smbatyan (BAB ‘24), captain of the AUA_A team and leader of the AUA Chess Club, who frequently represents AUA in local and international competitions, has her own ritual before every game, “Preparing for a chess competition is a special ritual for every competitive chess player. Personally, I begin by revising my opening repertoire and solving some tactics a few days before the games. I try to avoid playing chess as much as possible to start ‘missing’ the game a little bit and allow myself to enjoy it during the competition when I ‘finally’ get the chance to play. Playing chess can actually be both time- and energy-consuming, but it is also fun,” she remarks.

Chess is a game of challenges, and representing the University adds extra pressure on the players, but our students are committed to doing their best and supporting one another; despite the difficulties, such events help to shape memorable experiences. “Overall, all the games at the KCF Cup are both tense and memorable. There was a game, when I was the only AUA player left. My team members were following my game and it boosted my spirit and motivated me to win at all costs, as I was not playing only for myself, but was representing my teammates as their leader, as well. And, luckily, I won, says the captain, adding, “Team games are another world in chess. There is a lot of dedication and willpower put into every single step toward the success of your team and teammates.Honestly, taking second place in the 1800-1999 rating category cheers me up, but it also upsets me. There is a feeling of victory, but it also feels like you just lost something. As a captain, I feel really proud of our team, as we gave it our best shot!”

After successfully competing, the AUA Chess teams hope to come back stronger next year and are inspired to host such tournaments on campus. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.