Freshman competes in US chess championship

California native Sam Shankland '14 earns third-place finish

At 19, chess player Sam Shankland '14 has already traveled the globe, competed against the world's elite and played professionally.

This week, he vied for and won a third-place finish in the 2011 U.S. Championship for chess, which is being held in St. Louis, Mo.

"It was a great experience," Shankland had said before his final two days of tournament play. "I had matches against some of the best players in the world."

At 16, Shankland, originally from California, became the youngest adult state champion. A month later he competed in Vietnam in the Under 18 World Championship, which he won. Shankland also won the Under 21 U.S. Championship last July, which qualified him for this week's invite-only tournament of 16 players, of which he was ranked 12th.

The group is broken down into two sections of equal strength for round-robin play. The top two players in each section go on to the semi-finals. Shankland tied for second place in his section, beating Alexander Onischuk, the 57th-ranked player in the world, and third-ranked player in the United States, in a tie-breaker.

"It was a really exciting match," Shankland says.

In the semi-finals, however, he lost to Gata Kampsky, who is ranked 15th in the world.

Following that elimination, Shankland had a day off after competing for 10 straight days. On Tuesday and Wednesday, April 26 and 27, he competed for the third-place finish.

He'll play in a couple of chess events in Europe over the summer, he says, after which his next stop may be Siberia, where he's earned a place at the World Cup tournament in August. There, Shankland will compete against 127 of the best players in the world.

"It's obviously a little bit disappointing to come this far and then get knocked down," Shankland says. "But I'm still really happy."

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