Tata Steel Challenger Sam Sevian: Youngest GM In The World

Tata Steel Challenger Sam Sevian: Youngest GM In The World



fter our preview of the Tata Steel tournament today we focus on one participant of the challengers: GM Sam Sevian, the youngest grandmaster in the world.

In late November 2014, at a GM norm tournament in St. Louis, Sevian crossed the 2500 mark. With three GM norms already earned, he secured the GM title at the age of 13 years, 10 months and 27 days.

One of his games at that tournament was the following crushing win:


[Event “CCSCSL Nov GM 2014”]
[Site “Saint Louis USA”]
[Date “2014.11.21”]
[Round “1.2”]
[White “Sevian, Samuel”]
[Black “Boros, De”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B09”]
[WhiteElo “2484”]
[BlackElo “2470”]
[Plycount “41”]
[Eventdate “2014.11.21”]
[Eventrounds “9”]
[Eventcountry “USA”]
[Eventcategory “9”]
[Sourcedate “2014.04.06”]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.e5 Nfd7 7.h4 c5 8.h5 cxd4 9.Qxd4 dxe5 10.Qf2 Qb6 11.Qh4 exf4 12.hxg6 h6 13.Bxf4 Qxb2 14.Nd5 Qxa1+ 15.Kf2 Nc6 16.Bd3 Qb2 17.Bc1 Qxa2 18.Bxh6 Nc5 19.Bxg7 Nxd3+ 20.Kg3 fxg6 21.Ng5

Samuel Sevian was born December 26, 2000 in Corning, New York. He is the world’s youngest grandmaster, the youngest grandmaster in U.S. history (beating Ray Robson’s record) and the first grandmaster born in the year 2000 or later!
Born to Armenian parents, Sevian started playing chess at the age of five. He was also the youngest-ever IM in the U.S. at age 12 years and 10 months, and before that he has also broken records at becoming national expert and master. Sevian became world under-12 champion in 2012 in Maribor, Slovenia.


GM Sam Sevian.


Sevian scored his GM norms within one year: at the 2014 Foxwoods Open, the Saint Louis Invitational in May and the Washington International in August. He fulfilled the last requirement, a 2500 rating, at the aforementioned Saint Louis GM Norm Invitational tournament in November, which he won.

Until November, the Chinese top talent GM Wei Yi was the youngest GM in the world. He earned the title a bit quicker than Sevian: age 13 years, 8 months, 24 days, at the Reykjavik Open in March 2013 .

Sam Sevian is the sixth-youngest GM of all time, behind Bu Xiangzhi, Wei Yi, Magnus Carlsen, Parimarjan Negi and Sergey Karjakin, whose absolute record of 12 years (!), 7 months and 0 days is still hard to beat.

Here’s the full list of players to become a grandmaster before their 15th birthday:

Youngest GMs

No. Player Country Age
1. Sergey Karjakin Ukraine 12 years, 7 months, 0 days
2. Parimarjan Negi India 13 years, 4 months, 22 days
3. Magnus Carlsen Norway 13 years, 4 months, 27 days
4. Wei Yi China 13 years, 8 months, 24 days
5. Bu Xiangzhi China 13 years, 10 months, 13 days
6. Sam Sevian USA 13 years, 10 months, 27 days
7. Richard Rapport Hungary 13 years, 11 months, 6 days
8. Teimour Radjabov Azerbaijan 14 years, 0 months, 14 days
9. Ruslan Ponomariov Ukraine 14 years, 0 months, 17 days
10. Wesley So Philippines 14 years, 1 month, 28 days
11. Etienne Bacrot France 14 years, 2 months, 0 days
12. Jorge Cori Peru 14 years, 2 months[5]
13. Ilya Nyzhnyk Ukraine 14 years, 3 months, 2 days
14. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave France 14 years, 4 months
15. Peter Leko Hungary 14 years, 4 months, 22 days
16. Hou Yifan China 14 years, 6 months, 16 days
17. Anish Giri Netherlands 14 years, 7 months, 2 days
18. Yuriy Kuzubov Ukraine 14 years, 7 months, 12 days
19. Dariusz Swiercz Poland 14 years, 7 months, 29 days
20. Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son Vietnam 14 years, 10 months
21. Daniil Dubov Russia 14 years, 11 months, 14 days
22. Ray Robson United States 14 years, 11 months, 16 days
23. Fabiano Caruana Italy 14 years, 11 months, 20 days

Here’s a famous video of a 10-year-old Sevian beating IM Greg Shahade:

Sevian’s next tournament will start this Saturday: the Tata Steel Challengers in Wijk aan Zee.
For this group, the full pairings have been published and so we know that he’ll fae Dutch GM Robin van Kampen in the first round.
Interestingly, the “old” youngest GM, Wei Yi, plays in the same tournament. He starts with Black against another Sam from the United States: Sam Shankland.


A Game’s Grand Young Man

Program Prepares the Chess Prodigy Sam Sevian for His Next Moves


Despite his reserved nature, Sam Sevian, 14, has gathered a sizable collection of friends in the chess community. Credit The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis/PR Newswire, via Associated Press



everal weeks had passed since the greatest moment in Sam Sevian’s chess life, enough time to allow for some quiet reflection. On a recent Sunday afternoon inside a Midtown Manhattan high-rise, where the teenage Sevian had been invited for a training session with the chess champion Garry Kasparov, he recalled a recent game with enormous stakes.

The tension Sevian felt during that Nov. 22 contest — “nerve-racking,” he called it — was brought on by the prize that awaited him if he won it.

Sevian was taking on Andrey Gorovets of Belarus in a fourth-round game at an invitational tournament in St. Louis. With a victory, Sevian — then 13 years 10 months 27 days old — would become the youngest grandmaster in United States history, by more than a year. In 2009, Ray Robson earned the title at 14 years 11 months 16 days.

Sevian had won his first three games of the tournament, but Gorovets was proving to be stiffer competition.

“I was on the attack,” Sevian said, but Gorovets “was defending really well.”

The game went back and forth for hours, and Sevian’s greatest difficulty seemed to be completing his moves in the time allotted. At one critical juncture, Sevian’s painstaking deliberations nearly cost him the game.

“I had about five seconds on the clock, and I thought, No, this isn’t enough time to make a move,” Sevian said. “And then I made my move, and I see I have one second left. So I had to, like, smash the clock!” He laughed as he mimicked a speedy hand gesture toward an imaginary timer.

After that move, Sevian picked up his pace. When he eventually claimed the victory, he became a grandmaster, a title based on a formula of ratings and results. Once attained, the title is kept for life.

“I was, of course, really happy,” said Sevian, who began playing chess competitively at 5. But Sevian also acknowledged a tremendous sense of relief. “I had to win,” he said.

That was a frank admission for Sevian, who generally keeps his innermost thoughts and feelings private, even from his parents, Armen and Armine.

Despite his reserved nature, Sevian, who turned 14 on Dec. 26, has gathered a sizable collection of friends in the chess community, communicating regularly with many of them via Skype. Those relationships are a byproduct of his lifestyle. Sevian, who lives in Southbridge, Mass., is home-schooled, a circumstance made necessary by the amount of time he spends on the road competing.

Several of Sevian’s chess acquaintances also took part in the recent New York training session led by Kasparov. The gatherings are part of the Young Stars program, established jointly in 2012 by the Kasparov Chess Foundation and the elite Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Twice a year, the chess prodigies in the program meet with Kasparov and his foundation’s president, Michael Khodarkovsky, for an entire weekend to analyze various positions and strategies. Often, they take hours to resolve particularly difficult dilemmas.

In addition to offering Sevian and the other children a rare opportunity to work with Kasparov, the five-year grant program has connected Sevian with a prominent coach, the grandmaster Alexander Chernin of Hungary.

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Coaching, especially from sought-after instructors like Chernin, and travel can be prohibitively expensive for young players. The economics of chess are such that even players of Sevian’s caliber cannot rely on prize money alone to cover their expenses. (Sevian earned $1,000 for his November victory in St. Louis.)

Consequently, grants like those established by Kasparov’s foundation are crucial for world-class players looking to improve.

“This is the only organization that supports Sam,” said Armen Sevian, who works as a principal scientist at a laser manufacturing company in suburban Boston. “Their help is very important. Really important. In terms of coaching, in terms of many other things, we’re thankful.”

The assistance becomes even more important as destinations are added to Sam Sevian’s itinerary. This week, he will participate in the renowned Tata Steel Chess Tournament in the Netherlands. Sevian is one of 14 players who will compete in the challengers division of the two-week event.

But regardless of how he performs in the Netherlands, Sevian’s profile is certain to rise now that he is a grandmaster. He has had success on the world stage, having earned the gold medal in the under-12 open section of the world youth championships in Slovenia two years ago, and some observers wonder if he could follow the path of another young talent, the reigning world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

Carlsen, 24, is one of five players to earn the title of grandmaster at a younger age than Sevian, having beaten him to the accomplishment by a little more than six months.

For now, Sevian can only hope to match Carlsen’s success and perhaps become the first American to be crowned world champion since Bobby Fischer, who earned his grandmaster title about six months before his 16th birthday. But Sevian says that is not what drives him.

“You have to love the game,” he said. “You have to have the dedication. You can’t just be talented. You have to work a lot.”

Just then, his short break concluded, and he was off, back to his studies with Kasparov. Even though Sevian has accomplished at 14 what few chess players will achieve in a lifetime, his work has only begun.