Chess tournaments Chess strategy Computer chess Chess players FIDE Chess variants Chess rules and history

Sam Shankland

Shankland in 2014
Country United States
Born October 1, 1991
San Francisco, California, United States
Title Grandmaster (2011)
Peak rating 2661 (February 2015)
Ranking No. 89 (July 2015)

Sam 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 co-champion in 2008, US Junior Champion in 2010, and a gold medalist at the 41st Chess Olympiad in 2014. In July 2015, he was ranked 89th in the world.

Early life and education

Shankland was born in San Francisco, California. 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.

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

Chess career


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 u18, where he tied for first place with Ivan Saric and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, taking home the bronze medal and earning the title of International Master.


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.


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

He finished third in the 2011 U.S. Chess Championship, after first defeating Alexander Onischuk in a playoff game, 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. 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.


In 2013, Shankland made his debut for the US National Team at the Pan-American Team Championship, leading them to victory with a performance rating over 2800.

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.

Shankland clinched first place at the ZMDI Open in Dresden, Germany.


At the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, Shankland took home gold for his performance as a reserve player. Going undefeated, he scored an incredible 9 points out of 10 games, giving him a performance rating of 2829 for this tournament. 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.

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.


Following his gold medal in Tromso, 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.