US youngest-ever chess master – Sam Sevian, 13

Sam Sevian, 13, of Southbridge is currently the world's youngest international master of chess. He competes Sunday in the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. (Connie Grosch)

Sam Sevian, 13, of Southbridge is currently the world’s youngest international master of chess. He competes Sunday in the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. (Connie Grosch)

TSMFL would like to wish Sam Sevian the best for the future. We also acknowledge the dedication of his mother Mrs Sevian and note that sponsorship is an issue.

So many chess playing children South Africa lack funds to participate in chess events and championships. Championships are valuable and helps the chess player to benchmark his or her performance.

We want to thank our sponsors for their invaluable contributions but we need additional sponsorship to help transform thousands and thousands of children in South Africa. This is an ongoing process and our TSMFL children will surely reap the fruits of their own dedication.

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Here is a media release from about the youngest-ever chess master.

SOUTHBRIDGE — Armine Sevian said she doesn’t want her 13-year-old son Sam solely focused on chess.

But Sam, an international master who’s closing in on becoming the youngest-ever U.S. grandmaster, said he can’t imagine life without chess and practices up to six hours a day.

His mother accompanies him to events around the globe, essentially Mrs. Sevian’s full-time job. She silently urges him on during his sometimes five-hour-plus duels.

The boy is one of 10 players competing in the 10-day, 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, which ends Sunday. He entered the tournament ranked second.

As of Thursday, Sam had split his first six games, with three more games to play.

The Sevians said it was doubtful Sam could make up enough ground to win the tournament, which is considered the country’s most prestigious event for the nation’s top players under 21.

On June 18, Sam and three other young chess players accompanied Garry Kasparov, arguably the best chess player in history, to coach members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Initially planned as a big tournament pitting 10 Democrats against as many Republicans, organizers decided to use only one board, and the lawmakers played in succession.

According to Mrs. Sevian, Sam coached three or four Democrats, the last of whom, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., was resistant to Sam’s coaching because the legislator said he already knew how to play.

Mrs. Sevian said with a laugh that when Sam suggested a move, the legislator would say, ‘Don’t tell me, I already know.’

She said tongue-in-cheek that the Democrats lost because of Mr. Fattah.

The event was part of the Young Stars-Team USA program, which selected Sam in 2012, and is run through the Kasparov Chess Foundation, which trains Sam and others twice yearly under Mr. Kasparov, founder of the St. Louis chess club.

Sam is rather shy with people he doesn’t know, his mother and a chess club spokesman said.

Asked to recap career highlights, or moves that surprised even him, Sam said matter-of-factly that they occur regularly, maybe once or twice a tournament.

Sam, who also plays basketball and soccer, and enjoys watching hockey, already has to his credit two grandmaster norms.

These are tournament performances against other grandmasters that essentially say the boy played as well as or better than grandmasters, Mike Wilmering, the chess club spokesman, said.

Sam needs three norms to become a grandmaster, as well as a chess rating of 2,500. Sam’s rating is about 2,450, Mrs. Sevian said.

Sam said he earned his first norm in January at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, and his second in recent weeks in St. Louis.

Mr. Wilmering said the current record for youngest U.S. grandmaster is Ray Robson, who earned the title a few weeks before his 15th birthday.

Today’s St. Louis event is not a “norm” tournament.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Sevian said flights and hotel accommodations to get to various norm tournaments have become expensive as Sam has improved.

For starters, Sam has to win the tournament, and Mrs. Sevian said the grand prizes don’t net the “big money” of other sports.

So it’s usually not enough to cover traveling expenses.

“We hope it will pay off in the end,” she said.

Sam is home-schooled because the family estimates he would be absent from school 10 days a month to attend tournaments. No public school would consent to that, Mrs. Sevian said.

Sam’s 11-year-old sister, Isabelle, attends school.

Mrs. Sevian said, “Honestly, I’d rather Sam go to school, too.”

The plan, for now, is to indulge his interest in chess and see how far it takes him, his mother said.

Sam, whose favorite subject is math, said the most interesting place his chess abilities had taken him was the World Youth Chess Championships in Maribor, Slovenia, where he won the world championship of the 12-and-under age group in 2012.

Sam was born in Corning, New York. The Sevians have also lived in Florida and California, and moved to Southbridge last year because his father, Armen Sevian, took a job as principal scientist at IPG Photonics, a laser manufacturing company in Oxford.

Sam said his father, a native of Armenia, taught him how to play when he was very young and by 4 he was familiar with all the pieces.

At 5, Sam was attending a weekly chess club and played in small tournaments in Orlando. He placed second in a national event there, and this was when his parents decided he had talent and needed to continue, his mother said.

Getting to the boy’s chess tournaments on the East Coast factored into the decision to move from the West Coast, Mrs. Sevian said.

The family plans to move to Worcester or closer to the city during the summer, the mother said.

Southbridge is “fine,” much quieter compared to San Jose and Los Angeles, but Mrs. Sevian said she detests the 90-minute drive to Boston’s Logan International Airport, which is sometimes two hours with traffic.

Although they move often, they plan to remain in Central Massachusetts for a long time, Mrs. Sevian said.

Add a commentContact Brian Lee at Follow him on Twitter at @BleeTG


About Tsogo Sun Moves for Life

Education through Chess. A proven intervention to unlock the potential of SA's children. Moves for Life unlocks the cognitive potential of South African children by structured implementation of chess education where essential aspects of the game are actively linked with math, science and lifeskill concepts. Learning fundamental concepts are made fun and exciting for the child.
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