Sam Shankland Reaches a New Peak

Photo: Yevgeny Surov

Photo: 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.

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.

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.

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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


  1. Is 2679 FIDE rally 8th in the US? If so, wow! I thought this put Shankland at #4, or the first outside of the top 3. And didn’t he only win the tournament by half a point?

  2. Good article but the “8th highest player in the U.S.” is a little misleading – this is true only in terms of USCF ratings (7/16) rating list. At that elite level, more importantly, GM Shankland’s 4th highest in terms of FIDE ratings. The only Americans ahead of him are the big 3 super GM’s in the World’s top 8. Some others with slightly higher USCF ratings are currently not considered to be in the World’s top 100. Which is probably why he was selected for the Olympic team instead of these others.

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