Robert Hess Wins the 2010 Samford Fellowship

Photos: (Center) by WIM Beatriz Marinello; (L, R) by Betsy Dynako

Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship
Contact: Allen Kaufman (718) 544-5036

The twenty-fifth annual FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP was won by Robert L. Hess II of New York City.

Though only eighteen years old, the youthful grandmaster has had considerable success in a variety of chess competitions. Robert was National Champion in the Kindergarten-through-third-grade division (2001), he participated in the 2003 World Youth under-age-12 Championship and the 2004 World Youth under-age-14 Championship. His best finish was 5th in the boys U-14 section in 2005.

Other notable achievements include winning the 2006 U.S. Junior Championship, the 2009 Spice Spring Invitational, and the 2009 SuperNational High School Championship. He also competed in that year’s U.S. Chess Championship, tying for second place.

Robert will graduate from Stuyvesant High School in New York City in June and plans to attend college in the fall. He is also a sports enthusiast having played soccer, baseball and football. Math, history and writing are his favorite school subjects.

The young winner credits his coach, Grandmaster Miron Sher, with providing the training necessary for his success. Regular lessons cover openings, endgames and tactics and homework consists of nine problems weekly.

Robert says, “Miron is far and away the best coach I could have asked for and his dedication and hard work never cease to amaze me.”

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.

The purpose of the Samford Fellowship is to identify and assist the best young American chessmasters 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 to chess without having financial worries.

The winner was 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 was chosen based on his chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments.

Robert’s term as Samford Fellow will begin on July 1, 2010. The Fellowship is administered by the U.S. Chess Trust with invaluable administrative services provided by Barbara DeMaro.

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.

Here is a recent win by the new Samford Fellow against an experienced grandmaster.

Robert Hess (FIDE rating 2545) vs. Jaan Ehlvest (FIDE rating 2649) from the 2009 Foxwoods Open.

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