GM Samuel Sevian wins Continental Championship

GM Sam Sevian, our new Continental Champ Photo Federación Colombiana de Ajedrez.
GM Sam Sevian won the 2017 Continental Championship held in Medellin, Colombia from June 9-19. With his historic victory, Sam earns a spot at the next FIDE World Cup.  At age 16, Samuel becomes the youngest Continental Champion ever.  He was the 8th seed in a field of 258 players, probably the largest Continental Championship ever.  And, with 29 GMs, 1 WGM, 41 IMs and 9 WIMs, this was also likely the strongest Continental. Here are two victories by Sam from the event, both on the White side of the Sicilian.

[Event "2017 Continental Championships"]
[Site "?"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Sevian, Sam"]
[Black "Vazquez, Guillermo"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[PlyCount "55"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3
Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. Rg1 Nb6 13. Na5 Rc8 14. g5 Nh5 15.
Kb1 g6 16. h4 Qc7 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. exd5 Bd7 19. c4 Bd8 20. Nc6 Bxc6 21. dxc6
Qxc6 22. cxb5 axb5 23. Rc1 Qb7 24. Rxc8 Qxc8 25. Qxd6 Bc7 26. Qc6 b4 27. Ba6
Qa8 28. Rc1 1-0[/pgn]

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Sevian, Sam"]
[Black "Vasquez Schroeder, Rodrigo"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B66"]
[PlyCount "53"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8.
O-O-O h6 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bf4 d5 11. Qe3 Bb4 12. Be2 O-O 13. e5 Nh7 14. Ne4 f5
15. exf6 Nxf6 16. Nxf6+ Qxf6 17. Be5 Bc5 18. Qc3 Qxf2 19. Bd3 Ra7 20. Kb1 Bb6
21. Qb4 a5 22. Qg4 Qe3 23. Qg6 Qxe5 24. Rhf1 Rff7 25. Qh7+ Kf8 26. Qh8+ Ke7 27.
Rxf7+ 1-0[/pgn]
After 11 rounds, the event ended in an eight-way tie for first, with Sevian earning Gold on tie-breaks.  But, the final crosstable was far from set!  Normally, the Continental Championship awards four spots for the World Cup.  This year we had a unique situation because of the incredible strength of our U.S. Championship.  In odd-numbered years, our Championship doubles as our Zonal Championship, which awards five spots for the World Cup. Going into the US Championships, however, four players were guaranteed places at the World Cup – GM Jeffery Xiong who won the 2016 World Junior U20 Championship, and World Top Ten players, GMs So, Caruana and Nakamura, who qualify for the World Cup by rating. That left us with an additional five positions from the Zonal Championship, provided that the qualifiers score at least 50% at our Championship.  But, in a small field of 12, only three other players (Onischuk, Akobian and Zherebukh) attained the required 50% or better score.  So, in accordance with World Cup regulations, the two unused positions at our Zonal Championship passed on to the Continental Championship.  That meant this year’s event in Columbia awarded six positions to the World Cup!
Photo Federación Colombiana de Ajedrez.
Saving further complications was that among the eight players who tied for first in Medellín, three (GMs Cordova and Cori from Peru and Flores from Argentina) had already qualified. So all five of the others who were tied for first, including Sam, earned a spot. Half-a-point behind the eight-player group were seven other players…and only one WC spot remaining.  One of those players, GM Kovalyov from Canada, had already qualified. The other six players competed in a Rapid (G15 + 10) play-off to determine the last spot!  Among the six-player group were three Americans:  GMs Kaidanov, Hungaski and Ramirez.  GM Fier from Brazil won the playoff and earned the last World Cup spot. In addition to the four USA players already mentioned, GMs Shabalov and Erenburg, IM Andrew Tang, FM Gregory Markzon, Bob Holliman, Daniel Parmet and Douglas Cox were also in attendance.  The group of 11 USA players at this event appears to be our largest delegation ever at this event! Congratulations to all of our players, particularly to the youngest Continental Champion ever, GM Samuel Sevian!  To see Samuel’s post-tournament interview, please check the event's Facebook page.  For results, see where you can also find play-off results. For more games, see the live transmission record at


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Did anybody make any title norms?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Tang had a 2600 performance ratings after 7 rounds. Do not know anything about Fide to determine if it counts. He missed the 11 round norm.

In reply to by Frank DeMattos (not verified)

At least 9 rounds are counted.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Please forgive me for saying this........... as I played over the S.Sevian win against legendary Shirov a year ago..... thinking the 16 year old grandmaster Samuel Sevian studies massively , has a ferocious travel schedule but that is not what is going to make a fabulous career over one half century of chess. He really mad dog likes chess. And nothing in his career will even be remotely as important as this wonderful fuel.There are therefore no bad days. Sevian is alive and playing chess. Remember please great players Wolff, Shaked ,and hundreds of others lost forever in time, waiting for no one.Sevian has this. Many do not. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

In reply to by Jude Acers (not verified)

Wow, Jude! A blast from the past. How do you compare this young man to Bobby, who you also studied a lot? Do you think Sam has that quality? BTW, still located in New Orleans or is that just my thinking from years ago? Hope you're well.

In reply to by Pete (not verified)

Sir Pete: You must understand that the ruthless take no nonsense world pro chess promoters/ multi million dollar chess benefactors REX AND JEANNE SINQUEFIELD of the St.louis chess club offer a CERTAIN calendar for feisty upstart climbing players like Sevian..a genuine real hope that the entire US chess federation organization will soon be totally gone with the wind. It is simply not possible to compare the world of Fischer and Sir Sam...Fischer often destitute and forced to hustle speed games at incredible time odds just to stay alive,literally to eat ( sources: Browne,Ken Fitzgerald, Horowitz,Kmoch, Denker, Richard Schultz) ... ... FISCHER had no such Sir Sam world....Fischer told me (room 104 Graham Hall Louisiana State University March 1964)that no living expenses were paid by the US chess federation to help its near destitute defending national champion before his performance of all time 11-0 in the 1963-4 US chess championship just 90 days before I met him for the first and only time over three days... ..he carefully hid his US chess federation enforced poverty from everyone as much as possible ("they kept him broke ..they knew it was the ONLY way Bobby could ever be forced to play for peanuts in the US chess championship...the US chess director made 10 times what the greatest chess player in the world did..US chess however did pay for the coins I stuffed into a pay telephone to try to get him long distance on the plane at the last second.."- Larry Evans told me / -Sparks, Nevada 1970)....and Fischer did not ever want to impose... appear a beggar.The gusto Sevian has is his simple fuel ..if it takes 50 tournaments to get full staggering results he will have them ALL to play in over a lifetime with that wild child precious enthusiasm. If he gets hit 10 tourneys in a row BELIEVE ME he is gonna keep right on trucking.After loss of A SINGLE GAME Fischer had to be dragged out of his hotel room while STILL three points ahead OF THE MEGA Mr. And Mrs. Smyslov after he forfeited on time in the Smyslov game...and the Smyslovs knocked on his hotel door, ordered breakfast food for him, talked to him quietly and the great STRICTLY WORLD CLASS Smyslov then went down and played FISCHER the two hours late round , refusing the forfeit win as if nothing had happened. Nowhere do I find in chess literature that Fischer was never a natural player was a miracle he ever got to the board at all and we should all thank our lucky stars that amidst darkness/ demons...he occasionally arrived..AFTER ALREADY ARRIVING AT HIS HOTEL...he vanished in moments from a US world team Olympiad board one and even a world candidates final tourney - 4 disappearances in just three years... He would have had zero practical chances versus Karpov/Kasparov/Carlsen in a 30 game match with todays strictly enforced rules/must play or lose. As I warned in 1975 ..the real danger was that Fischer would get a small lead over Karpov at the outset and quit while ahead/cash totally unpaid to absolutely everyone.... totally destroying world chess sponsorship media interest /costing richly deserved honor to Karpov, likely the most successful tournament player of all time.... In the 1982 exhibition rematch Boris Spassky was leading in early rounds. If Spassky had quit pronto just ponder the similarly staggering loss of the only (final) performance from Fischer over his last decades. In contrast Sevian has forced play guaranteed by St. louis. He knows that he is among the chosen. And he is PLENTY tough.about to be hit massively. His apparent answer "Well good afternoon gentlemen, just bring it on." He likes the chess pieces..period. Wild move me. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

In reply to by Jude Acers (not verified)

There is of course a typo Correct is "1992 exhibition rematch". I regret the error. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

First, it is spelled COLOMBIA* Second, no norms were available because the organizers screwed up the pairings in round 1 otherwise by my back of the napkin, it looks like roughly 10 people were screwed out of their norms by this mistake

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] winning the Philadelphia Open, his section of the Saint Louis Spring Classic, the Chicago Open and the Continental Championships. Still, I have to consider him an underdog. Let’s just hope that Nisipeanu underestimates Sam, as […]

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