Sam Shankland

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Sam Shankland
Sam Shankland.jpg
Shankland in 2014
Full name Samuel L. Shankland
Country United States
Born (1991-10-01) October 1, 1991 (age 25)
San Francisco, California, United States
Title Grandmaster (2011)
FIDE rating 2676 (June 2017)
Peak rating 2679 (September 2016)
Ranking 61 (October 2016)
Peak ranking 57 (September 2016)

Samuel L. Shankland (born October 1, 1991) is an American chess grandmaster (2011). He was California State champion in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, Champion of State Champions in 2009, World U18 championship bronze medallist in 2008,[1] and US Junior Champion in 2010.[2] As a member of the United States team, Shankland won the gold medal for the best individual result at the reserve board at the 41st Chess Olympiad in 2014. He also was member of the US team at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in 2016 where the United States won gold for the first time in forty years.[3] In September 2016, he was ranked 57th in the world.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Shankland was born in San Francisco, California.[2][5] He learned to play chess at the age of 6, but didn't play in his first tournament until the age of 10. Shankland received his early chess education from the Berkeley Chess School.[6]

Shankland graduated from Brandeis University in 2014 with a degree in Economics.

Chess career[edit]


Shankland began his rise to prominence in 2008, winning the Pacific Coast Open and the California State Championship. He made his international debut at the World Youth Chess Championship under-18 section, where he tied for first place with Ivan Saric and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, taking home the bronze medal on tiebreak score and earning the title of International Master.[1]


After losing his first two games in the 2010 US Junior Championship, Shankland won six out of the last seven rounds to tie for first place, and went on to clinch sole first with two back to back Armageddon victories over Ray Robson and Parker Zhao. This result qualified him for the 2011 U.S. Chess Championship.[7]


In January, 2011, Shankland earned the title of Grandmaster at the Berkeley International.[8]

He finished third in the 2011 U.S. Chess Championship, after first defeating Alexander Onischuk in a playoff game,[9] and then Robert Hess in an Armageddon match. This result qualified him for the 2011 FIDE World Cup.

In the 2011 World Cup, Shankland defeated Hungarian super-grandmaster Peter Leko in the first round, but lost to Abhijeet Gupta in the second.[10] Shankland's victory over Leko in the first round was the biggest upset of the tournament.


Shankland won the Northern California International ahead of strong GMs Georg Meier, Alejandro Ramirez, Yury Shulman, and Bartlomiej Macieja.[11]


In 2013, Shankland made his debut for the US national team at the Pan-American Team Championship in Campinas, Brazil, leading them to victory with a performance rating over 2800.[12]

Shankland was selected as the 27th Samford Fellow. The Samford is a fellowship given once a year to a promising young American player, providing the funds necessary for the recipient to devote him or herself to chess without being restrained by financial concerns.[13]

Shankland clinched first place at the ZMDI Open in Dresden, Germany, edging out on tiebreak score Mikhailo Oleksienko and Georg Meier.[14]


At the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway, Shankland took home gold for his performance as a reserve player. Going undefeated, he scored 9 points out of 10 games, giving him a performance rating of 2829 for this tournament.[15] In round 8, Shankland defeated legendary GM Judit Polgar in her last ever professional game. Polgar announced her retirement from chess at the end of the event.[16]

Shankland shared first place at the American Continental Championship, qualifying him for the 2015 World Cup.

On December 14, 2014, Shankland broke into the top 100 chess players worldwide.[17]


Following his gold medal in Tromsø, Shankland was promoted to first board of team USA for the World Team Chess Championship, where he played with a performance rating over 2700 and drew against elite players Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, and Boris Gelfand, all of whom were in the top fifteen players worldwide at the time.

Shankland took third place in the Tata Steel Challengers group, with a score of 9.0/13 and a performance rating over 2700.[18]

Shankland competed in the 2015 Chess World Cup, where he defeated GM Ivan Popov in the first round, but lost in a tiebreak in the second round to GM Hikaru Nakamura.


In March 2016, Shankland took first place in the Fargenes International. In June, 2016, he won the Edmonton International.[19] In August, 2016, Shankland won the Biel Masters.[20] In September, 2016, Shankland played as fourth board for the United States at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, where the team earned gold for the first time since 1976.

Other activities[edit]

In 2016, he competed on the first season of FOX's reality game show Kicking & Screaming, coming in eighth place with his survivalist partner Caleb Garmany.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shahade, Jennifer. "Interview with an American Medallist: IM Sam Shankland". Retrieved July 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Sam Shankland US Junior Champion in bidding war". ChessBase. 2010-07-22. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Sands, David. "BREAKING: U.S. wins first gold in four decades at chess Olympiad". Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Standard Top 100 Players July 2015". FIDE. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  5. ^ GM title application. FIDE.
  6. ^ "Sam Shankland official website". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Wilmering, Mike. "A Perfect Storm Leads IM Sam Shankland to US Junior title". Retrieved July 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ Michael, Aigner. "GRANDMASTER Sam Shankland!". fpawn chess blog. Retrieved July 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ Klein, Mike (22 April 2011). "Shankland Pulls Off Upset; Zatonskih's Comeback Continues". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Sam Shankland (6 September 2011). "Shankland on the World Cup: Making the Most of Luck". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Kostya Kavutskiy (9 January 2012). "Shankland Wins Northern California International". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Panamerican Team Chess Championship: Samuel Shankland. OlimpBase.
  13. ^ Donaldson, John (19 March 2013). "2013 Samford Fellowship Awarded to GM Sam Shankland". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "ZMDI Open 2013". FIDE. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  15. ^ Chess_Informant (21 August 2014). "Live Chat With Sam Shankland". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  16. ^ Mark Crowther (13 August 2014). "Judit Polgar to retire from professional chess". The Week in Chess. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Shankland, Sam. "Shankland on his Rise From GM to Top Hundred: Part I". 
  18. ^ Doggers, Peter. "Carlsen wins 2015 Tata Steel Wei Yi promotes from Challengers 9036". Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Doggers, Peter. "Edmonton: Ganguly Does A Caruana, Shankland Wins". Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  20. ^ Silver, Albert. "Biel Main Open: resounding victory for Shankland". Retrieved 7 October 2016. 

External links[edit]