2023 Samford Fellowship Winners Announced

The Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship, marking its thirty seventh annual award, has selected Grandmasters Hans Niemann of Weston City, Connecticut, Christopher Yoo of Dublin, California and Abhimanyu Mishra of Englishtown, New Jersey, International Masters Jason Liang of Potsdam, New York, and Carissa Yip of Andover, Massachusetts, Women Grandmaster Jennifer Yu of Ashburn, Virginia, and FIDE Master Alice Lee of North Oaks, Minnesota, as its 2023 Fellows. The Samford has become the richest and most important chess fellowship in the United States having awarded over two million dollars the past three decades.

Since its 1987 inception, the Fellowship has proven very useful. The total value of the Fellowships has been increased several times over the years and is now $70,000 annually. Niemann will receive $20,000, Yoo, Mishra, Liang and Lee $10,000, and Yip and Yu will each receive $5,000. Fellows are eligible to receive up to a maximum $84,000 in total support. The winners’ term begins June 1, 2023.

The winners were chosen by the Samford Fellowship Committee, consisting of Paul Samford (son of Frank P. Samford III and grandson 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. Four of the five members (Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, Sam Shankland and Ray Robson) of the 2016 and 2018 US Olympiad teams which finished respectively first and tied for first, are 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 since 2019:
2019 Awonder Liang  
2019 Samuel Sevian 
2019 Christopher Yoo                                                                                                                                    
2020 Nicholas Checa                                                                                                                                                            
2020 Awonder Liang                                                                                                                                     
2020 Carissa Yip                                                                                                                                     
2020 Christopher Yoo                                                                                                                       
2021 Praveen Balakrishnan                                                                                                                          
2021 Akshat Chandra                                                                                                                   
2021 Nicholas Checa                                                                                                                              
2021 Abhimanyu Mishra                                                                                                                               
2021 Hans Niemann                                                                                                                                  
2021 Carissa Yip                                                                                                                                      
2021 Christopher Yoo                                                                                                                            
2022 Alice Lee                                                                                                                                                 
2022 Abhimanyu Mishra                                                                                                                                                         
2022 Hans Niemann                                                                                                                                
2022 Carissa Yip                                                                                                                                      
2022 Christopher Yoo                                                                                                                
2023 Alice Lee                                                                                                                                    
2023 Jason Liang                                                                                                                                               
2023 Abhimanyu Mishra                                                                                                                      
2023 Hans Niemann                                                                                                                    
2023 Carissa Yip                                                                                                                                     
2023 Christopher Yoo                                                                                                                 
2023 Jennifer Yu

For the full historic list dating to 1987, please see the US Chess Trust's website.