Yoo, Liang and Sevian are 2019 Samford Recipients

Christopher Yoo, Photo David Llada at Bay Area Chess International
The FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP, marking its thirty third annual award, has selected Grandmasters Awonder Liang of Madison, Wisconsin, and Samuel Sevian of Holden, Massachusetts and International Master Christopher Yoo of Dublin, California, as its 2019 Fellows. 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. Awonder Liang will receive a full Fellowship and Samuel Sevian and Christopher Yoo will share a Fellowship. The prize is awarded for one year and can be renewed for a second year. Fellows who share the award are eligible to receive the equivalent of two years of full support, not to exceed $84,000. The winners’ term begins July 1, 2019. 15-year-old Awonder Liang is currently the second rated player in the world under 16 at 2590 FIDE. Samuel Sevian, who recently turned 18, is the number 4 player in the world under 20 at 2642 FIDE and will make his debut on the U.S. national team this March in Astana, Kazakhstan. Christopher Yoo, who recently turned 12, currently holds the U.S. record for becoming the youngest International Master (12 years and one month) and is rated 2406 FIDE. He recently defeated Le Quang Liem of Vietnam rated 2714 FIDE. 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. 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, were 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 Jeffrey Xiong 2018 Awonder Liang 2018 Samuel Sevian 2019 Awonder Liang 2019 Samuel Sevian                                                                                                                                          2019 Christopher Yoo

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Plain Text Comments


Share Your Feedback

We recently completed a website update. If you notice a formatting error on this page, please click here.