IM Levon Altounian
Camp Years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004
Residence: Tucson, Arizona
2001 North American Open, 1993 Armenian Junior Championship
Bio: Levon was introduced to chess by his grandfather, who was a good chess player himself, at age of 10. Chess very quickly turned from a recreational interest into a passion for Levon and he joined the Tigran Petrosian Chess School. After performing well in numerous chess competitions and showing good chess ability, he was accepted by a coach who himself grew up with chess legend and World Champion Garry Kasparov.
It was the deep positional understanding of the Armenian Ex-World Champion Petrosian and the serious and no-nonsense approach of the Chess School and all its members that shaped Levon's overall chess style. In 1991, he won the USSR Team Championship with the Armenian Junior team ahead of some extremely strong and prominent teams, such as the Russian Team, which included 3 of the World Top 20-players like Vladimir Kramnik, the #2 player in the world. Now, despite the relatively small size of the country (2 million people, ) Armenian chess is stronger than ever ( including 2-time Olympic Champions, #3 ranked player in the world Levon Aronian, 2008, 2 World Junior Champions, etc.)
However, becoming a chess professional was not in Levon's plans so in 1991 he was accepted into the Yerevan Architectural University with plans of becoming a professional architect.
In 1993 Levon got back to tournament play, won the Armenian Junior Championship and received an invitation to play in the World Junior Championship, where he places in the top 20 group.
However, at the time of his graduation from the University Levon moved to Los Angeles with his family and his priorities change once more. He began attending Glendale College was later admitted to Cal State Northridge University, majoring in Art and Graphic Design, and graduated with Cum Laude honors.
While at Cal State, Levon was playing chess in big tournaments and coaching some very promising students (please refer to the Resume PDF ). In 2001, he won the North American Open and in 2003 obtained the International Master Title. He is currently ranked in the top 40 in the US Top list and plans to get his last 2 Grandmaster norms.
Levon moved to Tucson, AZ in 2002 to start a career as a professional chess Coach. The following year his school, Castlehill Elementary, won the 2003 National Championship and numerous State Championships. At the same time, many of his students not only won State and National Championships but also comprised the dominant part of the famous Foothills High School, which won 2 incredible High Schools Nationals under the excellent leadership of FM Robby Adamson. In 2006, Arizona Chess For Schools was launched to address the needs of raising chess awareness, helping people better connect with chess coaches, starting chess clubs and organizing events. The current work force consists of the best Arizona Chess Coaches and ranges from coaching Pre-K groups to teaching a chess/ computer course at the U of A .