2017 Samford Fellowship Awarded to Grandmaster Jeffery Xiong

Congratulations to World Junior Champion Jeffery Xiong for winning the prestigious 2017 Samford Fellowship! Xiong joins a top-notch collection of American chessplayers on the list of winners, including World #3 Wesley So, who won the fellowship last year. Head Coach of the winning American Olympiad team, John Donaldson, shares the details. 

Courtesy of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Courtesy of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP, marking its thirty first annual award, has selected Grandmaster Jeffery Xiong of Coppell, Texas, as its 2017 Fellow. The Samford is the richest and most important chess fellowship in the United States having awarded over two million dollars the past three decades. It identifies and assists the best young American chess masters by providing top-level coaching, strong competition and access to study materials. The Fellowship also supplies a monthly stipend for living expenses so that the winners may devote themselves to chess without having financial worries. The total value of the Fellowship has been increased several times over the years and is now $42,000 annually. The prize is awarded for one year and can be renewed for a second year. The winners’ term begins July 1, 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Jeffery Xiong is the reigning World Junior Champion and is currently the third rated player under 21 in the world at 2667 on the January 2017 FIDE rating list. Last year he made an even score in his U.S. Championship debut and won the B group of the Capablanca Memorial.

The winners were chosen by the Samford Fellowship Committee, consisting of Frank P. Samford III (son of Samford Fellowship founder Frank P. Samford, Jr.), former U.S. Chess Champion Grandmaster Yury Shulman and International Master John Donaldson. The winners’ potential was determined based on their chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments. The Fellowship is administered by the U.S. Chess Trust with particularly valuable services provided by Al Lawrence.

The Samford Chess Fellowship was created by the late Frank P. Samford, Jr. of Birmingham Alabama. Mr. Samford was a distinguished attorney and CEO of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark). He was active in civic, business, political, educational and cultural affairs. Mr. Samford was also an enthusiastic competitor in chess tournaments. After providing financial support for several chess projects he decided to do something significant for American chess. The result was the Samford Fellowship.

Since its inception the Fellowship has proven very successful. Many Samford Fellows have become strong Grandmasters, members of the United States Olympiad team and US Champions. The 2016 Samford Fellow Wesley So is number four in the world on the January 2017 FIDE rating list and four of the five members of the 2016 gold medal winning US Olympiad team were current or former Samford Fellows.

Generous contributions from the late Mrs. Virginia Samford and the Torchmark Corporation support the Fellowship. The Samford Fellowship is a fitting memorial to an extraordinary man. The dedication, creativity and achievement that marked Mr. Frank P. Samford, Jr.’s life are examples for all chess players to admire and emulate.

Samford Winners

1987 Joel Benjamin

1988 Maxim Dlugy

1989 Patrick Wolff

1990 Alex Fishbein

1991 Ilya Gurevich

1992 Alex Sherzer

1993 Ben Finegold

1994 Gata Kamsky

1995 Josh Waitzkin

1996 Tal Shaked

1997 Boris Kreiman

1998 Dean Ippolito

1999 Greg Shahade

2000 Michael Mulyar

2001 Eugene Perelshteyn

2002 Varuzhan Akobian

2003 Dmitry Schneider

2004 Rusudan Goletiani

2005 Hikaru Nakamura

2006 David Pruess

2007 Josh Friedel

2008 Vinay Bhat

2008 Irina Krush

2009 Ray Robson

   2010 Robert Hess

   2011 Alex Lenderman

   2012 Timur Gareev

   2012 Alejandro Ramirez

   2013 Sam Shankland

   2014 Daniel Naroditsky

   2015 Samuel Sevian

   2015 Kayden Troff

   2016 Wesley So

   2017 Jeffery Xiong

Jeffery Xiong on the December 2016 cover of Chess Life Magazine

Jeffery Xiong on the December 2016 cover of Chess Life Magazine

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