2024 Samford Fellowship Winners Announced

The Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship, marking its thirty eighth annual award, has selected Grandmasters Abhimanyu Mishra of EnglishtownNew Jersey, Andy Woodward of McKinney, Texas, Christopher Yoo of Dublin, California, Andrew Hong of Saratoga, California, Bryce Tiglon of Woodinville, Washington, International Masters Carissa Yip of Andover, Massachusetts, Alice Lee of North Oaks, Minnesota, and Gulruhbegim Tohirjonova of St. Louis, as its 2024 Fellows. The Samford is the most important chess fellowship in the United States having awarded over two and a half million dollars in nearly four 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. Mishra will receive $20,000, Woodward $10,000, Yoo, Hong, Tiglon, Lee, and Yip each $7,000 apiece and Tohirjonova $5,000. Fellows are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $84,000 in total support. The winners’ terms began June 1, 2024.

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 (Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, 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
2024 Abhimanyu Mishra
2024 Andy Woodward
2024 Christopher Yoo
2024 Andrew Hong
2024 Bryce Tiglon
2024 Carissa Yip
2024 Alice Lee
2024 Gulruhbegim Tohirjonova

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