Sam Shankland '14 wins a major chess fellowship

Award provides $42,000 stipend to support chess study and coaching

Sam Shankland '14

Sam Shankland ’14 has been selected as the newest Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellow by the Samford Fellowship Committee. This is the richest and most prestigious chess fellowship in the United States.

The Orinda, California, native, who has been lauded as one of the fastest learners of chess in history, is the 29th Samford fellow. He will receive a stipend of $42,000 for the year beginning July 1 to ensure that he has access to top-level coaching and study materials. The fellowship can be renewed for a second year.

Shankland was designated a Grand Master, the highest title in chess except for world champion, in 2011.

The United States Chess Federation said in a report posted on its website that the winner was chosen “based on his chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments.” Shankland was able to improve an unheard of 200 points in World Chess Federation ratings in a single year, when average growth is 45 to 60 points.

Shankland began playing chess when he was nine – a relatively late start for top-flight players. He tied for first in the Under-18 category in the 2008 World Youth Championships in Vietnam, placed third in the 2011 U.S. Championship and became the youngest-ever California state champion at the age of 16.

Shankland, now 22, recently posted on his professional Facebook page, “One thing is for certain, my life will never be the same.” He expects to write a blog entry with video soon on the website, where he chronicles some of his interesting games on his blog.

For more about Shankland, visit his website or his Facebook page. 

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