Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship

Sam Sevian, Image Courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club

Sam Sevian, Image Courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club

By John Donaldson

The FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP, marking its twenty-ninth annual award, has selected Grandmasters Samuel Sevian of Southbridge, Massachusetts, and Kayden Troff of West Jordan, Utah, as its 2015 Fellows. The Samford is the richest and most important chess fellowship in the United States. It identifies and assists the best young American chess masters by providing top-level coaching, strong competition and access to study materials. The Fellowship also supplies a monthly stipend for living expenses so that the winners may devote themselves to chess without having financial worries. The total value of the Fellowship has been increased several times over the years and is now $42,000 annually which will be split between the two winners. The prize is awarded for one year and can be renewed for a second year. The winners’ term begins July 1st, 2015.

Samuel Sevian and Kayden Troff are both former World Youth Champions, Samuel winning the under 12 title and Kayden the under 14 in 2012. They also have nearly identical ratings going into the 2015 U.S. Championship which they will be competing in. Both players are currently rated 2642 USCF, with Kayden 2532 FIDE and Samuel 2531. They are two of the youngest winners of the Samford Fellowship with Kayden age 16 and Samuel two years younger.

Kayden Troff, Image Courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club

Kayden Troff, Image Courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club

The winners were chosen by the Samford Fellowship Committee, consisting of Frank P. Samford III (son of Samford Fellowship founder Frank P. Samford, Jr.), former U.S. Chess Champion Grandmaster Yury Shulman and International Master John Donaldson. The winners’ potential was determined based on their chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments.

The Fellowship is administered by the U.S. Chess Trust with particularly valuable services provided by Barbara DeMaro.

The Samford Chess Fellowship was created by the late Frank P. Samford, Jr. of Birmingham Alabama. Mr. Samford was a distinguished attorney and CEO of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark). He was active in civic, business, political, educational and cultural affairs. Mr. Samford was also an enthusiastic competitor in chess tournaments. After providing financial support for several chess projects he decided to do something significant for American chess. The result was the Samford Fellowship.

Since its inception the Fellowship has proven very successful. Many Samford Fellows have become strong Grandmasters, members of the United States Olympiad team and US Champions. America’s top player Hikaru Nakamura, currently rated number three in the world, is a former Samford Fellow.

Generous contributions from the late Mrs. Virginia Samford and the Torchmark Corporation support the Fellowship. The Samford Fellowship is a fitting memorial to an extraordinary man. The dedication, creativity and achievement that marked Mr. Frank P. Samford, Jr.’s life are examples for all chess players to admire and emulate.

Samford Winners:

  • 1987 Joel Benjamin
  • 1988 Maxim Dlugy
  • 
1989 Patrick Wolff
  • 1990 Alex Fishbein
  • 
1991 Ilya Gurevich
  • 1992 Alex Sherzer
  • 
1993 Ben Finegold
  • 1994 Gata Kamsky
  • 1995 Josh Waitzkin
  • 1996 Tal Shaked
  • 1997 Boris Kreiman
  • 
1998 Dean Ippolito
  • 1999 Greg Shahade
  • 2000 Michael Mulyar
  • 2001 Eugene Perelshteyn
  • 
2002 Varuzhan Akobian
  • 
2003 Dmitry Schneider
  • 2004 Rusudan Goletiani
  • 2005 Hikaru Nakamura
  • 
2006 David Pruess
  • 2007 Josh Friedel
  • 2008 Vinay Bhat
  • 2008 Irina Krush
  • 2009 Ray Robson
  • 2010 Robert Hess
  • 2011 Alex Lenderman
  • 2012 Timur Gareev
  • 2012 Alejandro Ramirez
  • 2013 Sam Shankland
  • 2014 Daniel Naroditsky
  • 2015 Samuel Sevian
  • 2015 Kayden Troff

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