The Samford Fellowship Awards Featured in a NY Times Article

Vinay Bhat Vinay Bhat vs Irina Krush Chess Life Magazine

New York Times

The New York Times featured an article about the Samford Fellowship Awards.

The article titled “Award Helps Young Players to Compete, and Pay the Bills” was written By Dylan Loeb McClain and Published on April 27, 2008

“To make a living at chess, top players have to be successful enough to live off their tournament winnings or income from teaching or coaching.” (Click Here to Read the NY Times Article)

Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship Press Release

2008 Samford Fellowship Awarded to Krush and Bhat

Contact: Allen Kaufman
(718) 544-5036

For the first time in its twenty-two year history, two full Samford Fellowships have been awarded in a single year. The applicants this year included an unusually large number of highly qualified chessmasters. Because two of them, Irina Krush and Vinay Bhat, are in their last year of eligibility (both are 24) it was decided to award both the 2008 and 2009 Samford Fellowships this year.

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 Arthur Bisguier and International Master John Donaldson. The winner’s potential was determined based on his chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments.

The late Frank P. Samford, Jr. of Birmingham, Alabama, was a distinguished attorney and CEO of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark). Mr. Samford was active in civic, business, political, educational and cultural affairs. He was also an enthusiastic competitor in chess tournaments.

Mr. Samford created the Samford Fellowship to identify and assist the best American chessmasters under the age of twenty-five by providing top level coaching, strong competition and access to study materials. The Fellowship also provides a monthly stipend for living expenses so that the winners may devote themselves entirely to chess without having financial worries. The total value of the two-year Fellowship is approximately $36,000 annually.  The program is administered by Barbara De Maro for the U. S. Chess Trust.

Generous contributions from Mrs. Virginia Samford and 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 chessplayers to admire and emulate.

International master (IM) Irina Krush is the reigning U.S. Women’s Champion, with a USCF rating of 2515 and a FIDE rating of 2479. Irina has represented the U.S. in numerous international competitions since the age of seven, receiving medals in both World Youth and World Junior Championships. She became a master at age twelve, and an International Master at age sixteen. She has been an integral part of the U.S. Women’s Olympiad Team since the age of fourteen, helping the U.S. win a historic silver medal at the 2004 Olympiad in Mallorca, Spain.

At just fourteen, she won her first U.S. Women’s title with the convincing score of 8.5/9. At seventeen, she tied for first place with GM Igor Novikov in the NYC Mayor’s Cup and earned her first grandmaster norm. Irina is also active in the chess community as a writer, photographer, teacher, and manager of the U.S. Chess League team, the New York Knights.

Vinay Bhat learned how to play chess when he was six-and-a-half years old. At the age of ten-and-a-half he set the then-current record for becoming the youngest national master, breaking Bobby Fischer’s record by two years. That record was since broken by Hikaru Nakamura, and most recently, by Nicholas Nip. Vinay also played extensively internationally, representing the US in nine different World Youth competitions with top five finishes on five different occasions. Vinay completed his IM title in 2000. From 2002 through 2006, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with degrees in Statistics and Political Economy, and then went on to work at Cornerstone Research in Menlo Park, California. While working he has gotten back to playing chess and won his third and final GM norm in July 2007. Later that year, FIDE granted him the GM title conditional on his FIDE rating crossing 2500.

Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship

The following two fine games were won by the new Samford Fellows:

Isbank Ataturk International Women Masters Tournament, Istanbul March 11, 2008

White: Krush Irina (IM)
Black: Chen Zhu (GM) the 2001 Women’s World Champion

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. a4 e6 8. Ng5 Be7 9. h4 h6 10. Nge4 b4 11. Nb1 Ba6 12. Qg4 Kf8 13. Nbd2 b3 14. Bxc4 Nb4 15. O-O Bxc4 16. Nxc4 Qxd4 17. Qe2 Qd3 18. Qxd3 Nxd3 19. Rd1 Nb4 20. Ra3 Nd5 21. Rxb3 Nd7 22. Rb7 N7b6 23. b3 Bxh4 24. Ba3+ Kg8 25. Na5 f5 26. exf6 gxf6 27. g3 Bg5 28. f4 f5 29. fxg5 fxe4 30. g6 Re8 31. Nxc6 e3 32. Bb2 e5 33. Bxe5 Rxe5 34.Nxe5 h5 35. Rf1 1-0

Koltanowski Memorial Tournament, San Francisco December 18, 2000

White: Jaan Ehlvest (GM)
Black: Vinay S Bhat (IM)

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nh6 6. a3 Nf5 7. b4 cxd4 8. cxd4 Qb6 9. Be3 g6 10. Bd3 Nxe3 11. fxe3 Bh6 12. Qe2 Bd7 13. Nbd2 a5 14. b5 Ne7 15. g4 a4 16. O-O O-O 17. h4 Rac8 18. h5 gxh5 19. g5 Bg7 20. Kf2 Rc3 21. Rh1 Nf5 22. Ne1 h4 23. Qh5 Bxe5 24. Kg2 Bg3 25. Ndf3 26. Nxe3+ Kg1 Nf5 27. Rd1 e5 0-1

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