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Sam Shankland

Sam Shankland

  • Born:
    Oct 1, 1991 (Age 28) Berkeley, U.S.
  • FIDE Title:
  • FIDE ID:
  • Federation:
    United States of America
  • Peak Rating:
    2731 (March 2019)
  • Rating:
    2683 (December 2019)
  • Rank:
    56 (December 2019)

Sam Shankland wasn't a chess child prodigy. Although shown how to play at the age of 6, he played his first tournament at 11 and "only" became a grandmaster at the age of 19. That was in 2011, the year he also finished third in the US Championship after qualifying by winning the US Junior Championship a year earlier.

Sam Shankland beats Awonder Liang to win the 2018 US Chess Championship | photo (and cover photo): Lennart Ootes, uschesschamps

In 2012 Sam crossed the 2600 mark, but then it seemed for the next six years that he'd found his level as a strong 2600-player, a role in which he qualified for the US Olympiad team that took gold medals in Baku 2016. In 2018, though, Shankland suddenly achieved lift-off - he won the US Championship ahead of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura with a phenomenal unbeaten +6.

Sam also crossed 2700 during the event and later proved that was genuinely his new level by going on to win the Capablanca Memorial and the American Continental Chess Championship. In the 2018 Olympiad he performed above his rating as the US team took silver medals.

The question now is whether Sam can take the next step up to become an elite tournament regular. Given the determination and hard work he's shown so far you wouldn't bet against it.

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