Sam Sevian holds the title of youngest U.S. chess master — for now. The average age of chess masters has been steadily falling for years, but recently, that pace has quickened.
May 5, 2011
On one side, playing white, was 10-year-old Sam Sevian, who a few months ago became the youngest chess master in the history of the U.S. Chess Federation.
His opponent, playing black, was David Adelberg, 14, who had been crowned Arizona’s youngest chess master when he was 12.
Sam had lost a match to David two years earlier. This time, he vowed, would be different.
The windowless hotel meeting room in Agoura Hills, filled with dozens of players, was as silent as a church sanctuary.
Sam and David came out playing the Scheveningen variation of the Sicilian defense, a favorite of the grandmaster Garry Kasparov, one of their idols.
As the match entered its fourth hour, Sam decided to stir things up. For 40 minutes, he studied his position, brown sneakers suspended above the carpet, fists pressed against his chestnut-colored hair, lips moving silently.
Finally, Sam made his move: a bishop sacrifice.
Sam’s father, Armen, smelling of the cigarette he’d smoked on the balcony, caught his son’s eye with an expression that silently asked: How’s it going? Sam shrugged his shoulders and raised his palms: Who knows?
But Sam’s chess coach, standing nearby, watched with a small smile of satisfaction. “What he’s doing is very complicated, very complicated,” he said. “But it might work.”
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