The boy king of chess: Prodigy from Boston becomes America’s youngest ever Grandmaster aged 13 years and 10 months
- Samuel Sevian pushed his World Chess Federation rating past 2,500 points
- Previous record for the youngest US Grandmaster was held by Ray Robson
- He took the title just before he turned 15 – over a year older than Samuel
- Samuel said that he was ‘overwhelmed’ when he achieved the elite status
- Now his family want to go to Europe more – to find stronger competition
Published: 12:25, 28 November 2014 | Updated: 13:54, 28 November 2014
Not many people can claim to have shattered a major American record aged just 13 years, 10 months and 27 days.
But chess prodigy Samuel Sevian can now do just that. The teenager has been crowned America’s youngest-ever Grandmaster, easily besting the country’s previous record holder by more than a year.
At a tournament in St Louis last weekend, he won all four of his games to push his World Chess Federation rating past 2,500 points – enough to secure Grandmaster status.
Chess prodigy Samuel Sevian pushed his World Chess Federation rating past 2,500 points at a tournament in St Louis to achieve the elite status of Grandmaster, aged just 13 years and 10 months
‘I feel really good and somewhat relieved. This was one of my best tournament performances,’ the teen told AFP, noting that he had beaten three Grandmasters during the event in only 20-25 moves.
His father Armen – a scientist born and raised in Armenia who later emigrated to the United States – is bursting with pride.
‘He really outplayed his opponents in three games. But the fourth, it was really back and forth, it wasn’t clear,’ he said.
‘It was like a blitz, it came down to the last seconds. Both players were shaking.’
The previous record for the youngest US Grandmaster was held by Ray Robson, who achieved the title two weeks before he turned 15. American legend Bobby Fischer also once held the record.
At an August tournament, Samuel had put the record within reach, getting to within 14 points of the 2,500 needed for the elite Grandmaster title.
At age nine, Samuel became the youngest-ever American chess master receiving a rating of 2,201
The young chess wizard is well accustomed to setting US records, having become the youngest American Expert (another ranking) shortly before his 10th birthday.
At 12 years and 10 months, he became the country’s youngest International Master.
Samuel’s next target is to get to 2,600 points, which would secure him invitations to the most prestigious tournaments.
His ultimate dream is to become world champion; the question is when he will be ready to tackle the challenge.
‘It’s way out in the future and I don’t want to busy my head with it now. First, I would need to improve my game,’ he said.
‘After my big win in St Louis, my confidence level is high. This definitely helps.’
The chess star’s father said he is the sixth-youngest Grandmaster in the world.
The youngest person to win the status is Russia’s Sergey Karjakin, who became a Grandmaster when he was just 12 years and seven months old.
Samuel, who lives in the Boston area, said he was overcome with emotion when he realized he was about to achieve elite status in the chess world.
‘The pressure was enormous when I played my fourth game, which I needed to win to go over the 2,500 mark,’ he said.
‘I’m suddenly a Grandmaster and felt overwhelmed.’
In the coming weeks, Samuel will spend three days in New York at the Garry Kasparov Foundation. The chess legend is one of Samuel’s regular trainers and will be present for the three-day visit.
The foundation hailed his achievement, saying he is ‘the world’s first Grandmaster born in this millennium.’
After celebrating his 14th birthday on December 26, Samuel will participate in another tournament in the Netherlands.
Samuel’s target is to get to 2,600 points, which would secure him invites to the most prestigious tournaments
‘We want to go more to Europe. There’s stronger competition over there,’ said Armen Sevian, himself a former high-level player.
Samuel started his chess career in Orlando in August 2006 and he learned to play the game aged five earning a modest rating of 315 from his first tournament.
By the time his family moved to California in 2007, when he was seven years old, his rating had risen to 1614, higher than most adults.
He earned a spot on both the 2009 and 2010 All-America Chess Teams and in 2009, at the age of eight, Sevian defeated his first National Master in tournament play.
In January 2010 with a FIDE rating of 2119, he became the highest rated chess player in the world for his age and also qualified for the 2010 World Youth Chess Championship.
Former world champion Gary Kasparov achieved the highest ever chess rating at 2851. Bobby Fischer is the highest rated US player in history at 2785.