Sam Shankland Reaches a New Peak

Photo: Yevgeny SurovPhoto: Yevgeny Surov

Sam Shankland, the 4th highest player in the U.S., won one  of the strongest tournaments of his career last week, the Master Tournament at the Biel Chess Festival. He finished an entire point ahead of the field with a FIDE performance rating over 2800. This victory pushes his rating to a new peak, 2679. Shankland is now ranked 57th in the world.

"After winning a very topsy-turvy round 2 game, I made to board 1 in round 3 and stayed there throughout, though not without another scare in round 8. I was very fortunate to win those games, but it's hard to win a tournament as strong as this one without getting a bit lucky. Still, I'm very happy with how I played..."

-Shankland's Facebook post about his stunning performance

Along the way to victory, Shankland defeated Grandmasters Rinat Jumabayev, Ivan Saric, Martin Kraemer, and Yannick Gozzoli.

Can you find the clever tactic that Shankland played against GM Martin Kraemer to win the exchange?

Sam Shankland vs. Martin Kraemer

White to move.

Show Solution

[pgn][Event "49th Biel Chess Festival"]
[Date "2016.07.29"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Shankland, Samuel L"]
[Black "Kraemer, Martin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B94"]
[WhiteElo "2661"]
[BlackElo "2567"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1r3rk1/2qn1pb1/p1b2np1/1p2p1B1/4P3/PNN2Q1B/1PP4P/2KR3R w - - 0 19"]
[PlyCount "25"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]19. Bxd7 Nxd7 20. Be7 $1 {A sneaky route to a simple skewer.} Rfe8 21. Bd6 Qb6
22. Bxb8 {The game continued:} Rxb8 23. Rhf1 Rf8 24. h4 a5 25. h5 a4 26. Nd2 b4
27. axb4 Qxb4 28. hxg6 fxg6 29. Qh3 Re8 30. Nd5 Qb5 31. Nc7 1-0[/pgn]

One of Shankland's greatest achievements was winning a gold medal at the 2014 Olympiad with a score of 9 points out of 10 and a 2833 performance rating. His performance included a victory over Judit Polgar, who was ranked #8 in the world at her peak.

[pgn][Event "Olympiad Tromso 2014"]
[Round "8.4"]
[White "Shankland, Samuel L"]
[Black "Polgar, Judit"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E14"]
[WhiteElo "2624"]
[BlackElo "2676"]
[PlyCount "119"]
[EventDate "2014.08.02"]
[EventType "team-swiss"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "NOR"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2014.09.17"]
[WhiteTeam "United States of America"]
[BlackTeam "Hungary"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "HUN"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 b6 5. a3 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 Bb7 7. e3 a5 8.
b3 d6 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. O-O Qe7 12. Qc2 c5 13. Rfd1 h6 14. Rac1 Rfc8
15. a4 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Nc5 17. Ba3 Nfe4 18. Nb5 d5 19. f3 Nf6 20. Qb2 e5 21. cxd5
Nxd5 22. e4 Nf4 23. Bc4 Rd8 24. Kh1 Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Rd8 26. Qc2 Rxd1+ 27. Qxd1
Qg5 28. Qd2 Nxe4 29. fxe4 Bxe4 30. Bf1 Bc6 31. Bc1 Qg4 32. Nc3 g5 33. Qc2 Kg7
34. Be3 Qe6 35. Kg1 Bb7 36. Nb5 Nd5 37. Bf2 Nf4 38. Nc7 Qg4 39. Bxb6 Nh3+ 40.
Kh1 Qf4 41. Qc4 Qd2 42. Qe2 Qc1 43. Ne8+ Kf8 44. Nd6 Bd5 45. Be3 Qb1 46. Qd3
Qe1 47. Qe2 Qb1 48. Nc4 Qxb3 49. Qd3 Qxd3 50. Bxd3 Nf4 51. Bxf4 exf4 52. Nxa5
f3 53. gxf3 Bxf3+ 54. Kg1 Bd1 55. Bb5 Ke7 56. Nc4 Bf3 57. a5 f6 58. a6 Kd8 59.
Kf2 Bh1 60. Ne3 1-0[/pgn]

Shankland is currently preparing to compete for the U.S. team at the 2016 Olympiad, which begins on September 1st in Baku, Azerbaijan. He will join Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, and Ray Robson on the strongest U.S. Olympic team ever and one of the top seeds of the event.

Interested in supporting our powerhouse Olympic team? Read about our Donation Campaign.

1_02 (1) The podium of the Master Tournament (from the left): Safarli Eltaj (2nd), Shankland Samuel L (Winner), Aravindh,Chithambaram VR (3rd), Photo Biel International chess website. 

Learn more about Grandmaster Sam Shankland on his Official Website and Facebook page