Eric Hansen in 2014 during the Reykavik Tournament in Iceland
|Full name||Eric Hansen|
|Born|| May 24, 1992
Irvine, California, USA
|Peak rating||2596 (July 2014)|
Eric Hansen (born May 24, 1992) is a Canadian chess grandmaster. In September 2012, he clinched his final Grandmaster (GM) norm at the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey. He was officially recognized with the title of GM on January 19-20, 2013 by the first FIDE presidential board (PB) that assembled in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia. Hansen previously achieved the International Master (IM) title after the 3rd quarter FIDE PB meeting that convened July 24-25, 2010 in Tromso, Norway, and the FIDE Master (FM) title two years prior in 2008.
Eric Hansen was born in the United States but grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He holds dual citizenship.
Hansen began playing chess in grade school at the age of nine. By the age of 15, in 2008, Hansen became the youngest-ever Alberta Champion, and earned the FM title that year. He repeated as Alberta champion in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
In 2011, IM Hansen tied for first place in the Canadian Zonal Championship with a score of 7½/9, but lost a two-game playoff to GM Bator Sambuev. He won the 2012 Canadian Open Chess Championship, held in Victoria, British Columbia in July; Hansen scored 7½/9. Hansen attended the University of Texas at Dallas for one year beginning in September 2011 on chess scholarship, representing the school in intercollegiate tournaments, including the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship; UTD won the 2011 PanAms. He is taking a break from his studies to focus on chess full-time in the immediate future, and will make his European base in Valencia, Spain beginning in the autumn of 2013.
Hansen represented Canada at the 2011 World Cup, for which he automatically qualified, from his 2011 Canadian Closed tie for first with GM Sambuev. At the World Cup, Hansen played Grandmaster Vugar Gashimov, losing both games. In a September 4, 2012 video interview at the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Hansen reflected on his 2011 World Cup experience: "I got paired against Gashimov and he killed me," he said. "It was a good experience because I realized I wasn't serious enough to be competing with these guys. I'm more serious now ... it was good for motivating me."
In August, 2012, Hansen tied for 5th-10th places in the World Junior Chess Championship, held in Athens, Greece. He scored 9/13, achieving the best-ever finish by a Canadian in this event; the previous best had been FM Vinny Puri's tie for 8th place in 1988. At the Isthmia Open tournament at Vrachati, which began a few days later, Hansen scored his first GM norm, with a tie for 1st-3rd places.
Hansen represented Canada on board 4 at the 2012 Chess Olympiad, held in Istanbul, Turkey (August-September, 2012); this was his first Olympiad. Hansen, the youngest player on the team, made the best Canadian score of 7.5/10, boosting his FIDE rating by 25 points, cresting 2500 (the minimum for a GM title), and checked off his final GM norm in the process. He also made the best performance rating in the event by a player who was not already a Grandmaster. Hansen's current FIDE rating is 2502. Since Hansen scored one previous GM norm, he will soon formally receive the title from FIDE. He will become the first Grandmaster from Alberta. Hansen is also the second-youngest Canadian to attain the title of Grandmaster, after Mark Bluvshtein, who reached it at age 16 in 2004. However, Hansen is the youngest Canadian who was trained primarily in Canada to become a Grandmaster; Bluvshtein had the benefits of highly advanced Israeli youth chess training systems before immigrating to Canada in 1999 at age 11, and was virtually of national master strength at that age. Bluvshtein earned a 2200+ rating in Canada within a few months of arriving there.
Hansen qualified for the 2013 World Cup, to be held in Norway, by finishing in equal first-fifth places, with 8.5/11, at Mar del Plata 2012, the Americas Cup, held in October, and then advancing by playoff. With only four qualifying places available, Hansen finished fourth in the resulting round-robin quick-games playoff to advance. Hansen won the 2012 Panama Open, with 8.5/9.
Hansen kept his great form going into 2013 with a tie for 1st-8th places at the very large Cappelle-la-Grande Open in France, with a score of 7/9.
As defending champion, Hansen tied for first place in mid-July in the 2013 Canadian Open in Ottawa with English GM Nigel Short, with both scoring unbeaten 7.5/9.
Hansen has been known to be a very strong blitz and bullet player, both over-the-board and online. He has been spotted playing at Internet Chess Club (ICC), Chess.com, ChessCube, PlayChess.com, and lichess.org. For most of 2011, Hansen was recognized as the highest-rated player on ChessCube.com with a 3000+ rating. By April 2012, he was recognized as the highest-rated bullet player on Chess.com. He subsequently qualified for and accepted Chess.com's Death-Match 4 against then-IM Conrad Holt, who had the highest-rated blitz rating. Interestingly, the two were living in the same dorm building on the University of Texas at Dallas campus. The two were tied 4-4 after the first 8 rounds of 5 minute + 1 second increment blitz games. In the second round of 3 minute + 1 second increment blitz games, Holt pulled ahead 5.5-3.5, and eventually won 15-11.
Since April 2015, Hansen has been active on lichess under the pseudonym chessbrahs, where he mostly plays bullet games. He also co-animates a twitch and YouTube account under the same pseudonym, along with other titled players such as GM Robin van Kampen, IM Aman "heartbreaker" Hambleton and WFM Lefong.