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Sam Shankland

Sam Shankland

  • Born:
    Oct 1, 1991 (Age 29) Berkeley, U.S.
  • FIDE Title:
    Grandmaster
  • FIDE ID:
    2004887
  • Federation:
    United States of America
  • Peak Rating:
    2731 (March 2019)
  • Rating:
    2720 (September 2021)
  • Rank:
    28 (September 2021)

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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  • Jan 6, 2021 | 12:54 AM
    chess50years

    hard worker, good communicator, exciting player and born in Berkeley! 



  • Dec 28, 2020 | 12:04 PM
    Freemind66

    Sam Shankland a hardworker in chess, who wrote the wonderful book "Small Steps to Giant Imrovment" ! 



  • Dec 19, 2020 | 8:34 AM
    MichaelBergmanolson

    Sam Shankland




  • Dec 10, 2020 | 6:08 AM
    DougEckert

    OK Sam, hope this puts you over the top...



  • Dec 9, 2020 | 1:01 AM
    richpiper

    T'was between Sam and Sasha, had to go for my countryman who won the 2018 US Open over Fabi!  Plus, he's one of the good guys.



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