Saturday, June 11

GRANDMASTER Sam Shankland!

His odyssey lasted a year longer than he hoped. He took a year off before enrolling in Brandeis University to pursue this elusive dream. Frustrated by his inability to pick up one final norm, he threatened to quit chess. Fortunately for his students and many friends, he fought on. Along the way, he shared a World Youth title, won the US Junior Closed, earned 3rd place at the 2011 US Championship and scalped dozens of experienced chess professionals.

Within the past week, our hero Sam Shankland reached the pinnacle. The world governing body FIDE finally approved his Grandmaster title! He joined more than 1300 players at the highest level for a chess player. Sam was officially credited with four norms, needing only three: New York and Philadelphia in 2009 plus Berkeley and St. Louis in 2011. Bravo!

I still remember Sam as a rambunctious 12 year old rated 1750. It was already obvious back then that he had both the talent and enthusiasm to improve rapidly. In 2004 and 2005, he played a whopping 5,000 standard games on ICC. Kids, don't try this without parental permission. :-) Nonetheless, after so much practice, it is no wonder that his USCF rating shot upwards.

Date - USCF Rating
  • 4/2003 - 1086
  • 2/2004 - 1537
  • 2/2005 - 1867
  • 2/2006 - 2106
  • 2/2007 - 2216
  • 2/2008 - 2279
  • 2/2009 - 2441
  • 2/2010 - 2546
  • 2/2011 - 2559
  • current - 2613
Although I never formally taught chess to Sam, I didn't hesitate to chew him out when he needed it. Trust me, he deserved it! Over the years, I came to know Sam as well as my top private students, even though he was in fact a major rival. Yet I cheered him on while he trotted around the globe. The biggest highlight was the trip to Vietnam in October 2008, where he shared 1st place in World Youth U18. Well done master!

Despite his repeated claims to the contrary, I am confident that Sam won't quit anytime soon. He loves the royal game and has achieved so much. He will undoubtedly play during vacations plus in the online US Chess League in the fall, unfortunately for the defending champion New England Nor'easters. Sam also enjoys teaching private lessons and summer camps. Check out his chess website for more information. Don't worry, GM Shanky is here to stay!

Sam is the second Berkeley Chess School alumnus to have earned the Grandmaster title. They're the same age and, quite predictably, are friends. Who is the other?


Jon said...

who is the other BCS alumni to make GM thats is sam's age?

Michael Aigner said...

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway lived in the Bay Area for a year in 99-00.