Everyone has moments that will change their lives forever. Such moments are usually few and far between, often with years separating them, but they do happen. And when they happen, the person knows it. I myself have had many such moments, both as a chessplayer and as a person. Until recently, I was fortunate enough that the last lifechanging moment of my chess career was caught on camera.


However, last March that all changed. Something happened in my life that would change it forever. I was awarded the prestigious Samford Fellowship, a scholarship valued at $84,000 given out once a year to the most promising American player under the age of 25. As soon as I saw the announcement that I was chosen as the 2013 Samford Fellow (, I knew that my career, and my life, would never be the same.

For as long as I have been playing competitive chess, it has been my dream to reach my maximum potential. I believe I can do it. I believe that I can become a far stronger player than I am now. And I believe that given the right amount of time and resources, I can enter the world elite. The Samford Fellowship will give me the opportunity to test all of these hypotheses, and for that I am most grateful. It is an incredible privilege and opportunity, but it is also a responsibility. By accepting this award I made a promise to myself that I would do everything I felt necessary to reach my maximum potential as a chessplayer. And the first thing that involved was devoting all of my chess efforts to myself.


I was fortunate enough to have the support of my parents when I was growing up- without them to take me to tournaments, pay my entry fees, get me private lessons one hour every week, and give me food, shelter, and clothing, I never would have made it where I am today. But while their support was wonderful and enormously appreciated, when I was 17 it was clear that I had to start being responsible for my development. Financially it was very hard to take care of myself and have enough money to make it to tournaments abroad and hire coaches, so I decided to start teaching. I became quite a successful teacher, and it brings a huge smile to my face every time one of my students does well. I was also very fortunate to be hired as a video author. Teaching private lessons and recording videos for were wonderful opportunities for me to fund my chess career. But now all that has changed. I have the money I need to push myself to make further progress without having to teach, so I have decided to discontinue all private lessons and video work on While it does make me a little sad that my life as a chess teacher is probably done forever, it is a decision I felt I had to make, and one I am happy with, because of both the promise I made to myself and the responsibility that comes with being a Samford Fellow. My last video was published on April 16, 2013. It can be seen here:

I should mention that while I was recording it, I had no idea that I would win the fellowship or that it would be my last video.

Lastly, I want to say that while I no longer consider myself a employee, the parting has been only on the best of terms. I wish them nothing but the very best, and I am sure they will continue to be the premiere chess site on the net for many years to come. And I am enormously appreciative of all they have given me, which is not only work, but a very loyal and supportive fanbase. I really hope that all my fans continue to cheer for me at tournaments even though I am no longer working for them. Your support really means a lot to me, and I can never thank you enough for sticking with me through thick and thin, through some of the happiest moments I have ever had and through some of the darkest, worst times I've ever experienced. The next two years will be an incredible experience that will likely shape the course of the rest of my life, and I hope to have all my fans there to support me through them. To show my appreciation, I’ll be keeping everyone updated by maintaining this blog, posting 1-2 times a month from now on. My next post will be about my plans for using the Samford, and where my first travels will take me. Until then, I bid you adieu.

Best of Luck to All,

GM Sam Shankland


  • 3 years ago


    Nice samSmile

  • 3 years ago


    Congrats, and good luck, Sam :)

  • 3 years ago


    Congrats on getting the Samford Fellowship. I hope you go far. I like your playing style.

  • 3 years ago


    All the very best Sam

  • 3 years ago


    GI've it your best try Sam . All the best cheers

  • 3 years ago


    have fun and stay blessed.

  • 3 years ago


    Sam, your videos were top notch.  Watched them many hours on the treadmill.  And wishing you continued success in your chess career.

  • 3 years ago


    Congratulations! I will never forget that you beat GM Leko in a shocker. I am curious, where do you go from here? What is next?

  • 3 years ago

    IM Kacparov

    Good luck! :)

  • 3 years ago

    FM MichiganEagle

    Congrats, Sam! Reach the top.

  • 3 years ago


    Good luck GM Shankland!  You've always been amongst my favorite chess video authors, especially with your series on Kasparov.  I look forward to following your continuing chess career.

  • 3 years ago


    Congrats......and Goodluck.Smile

  • 3 years ago


    Sweet! Will you hire a full time coach?

    Gl abroad and do what you must to stay motivated!

  • 3 years ago


    Sam, hi. Best wishes to you!  You're gonna get there just keep up the hard work and great attitude that you have!    From a just one of the many many Sam Shankland fans-for-life!  And you know what ... you showed me the true value of the Caro-Kann ... you rock!!  Wish  you unparalleled success on your journey to the top! You will make it!

  • 3 years ago


    I heard you speak once at the Mechanic's Chess Club when you were a young man, and I was very impressed.  I am confident you have the capacity to realize your dreams and reach your full potential. Best Wishes. 

  • 3 years ago


    I concure with LaskerFan, I bid you good look in your tournament and life exploits, but being my second favorite video author I shall miss your highly instructive videos.

    Good luck, and I will always pull for you!

    P.S. I lied, if we play I'd really like the multi-hundred rating points I'd probably gain and the HUGE bragging rights.

  • 3 years ago


    Congratulations!! Very happy and excited for you.  I wish you the best in pursuing this with the right amount of discipline in a manner which does not create burnout nor in a manner which finds multiple distractions and interruptions either.  May you have the proper balance for single-mindedness and yet a relaxed pace which makes the study enjoyable instead of a slavish yoke.  I look forward to seeing the results of your labor and focus.  Best wishes!

  • 3 years ago


    Congratulations Shanky, I always loved you appearing from behind and pulling out one of your little jokes during live broadcasts until Danny or David kicked you out :)

    I am very excited to see you achieving your dream, you certainly deserve it and I hope you get to the very top levels. Good luck and I'll be waiting to hear from you so keep that blog updated! 

  • 3 years ago


    Amazing good news, Sam! And three cheers for the late Frank P. Samford, Jr. for creating the scholarship that for 27 years has greased the skids for the likes of Benjamin, Kamsky, Nakamura, and Shankland.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for your super videos. Good luck and hope that your chosen path in life will bear a lot of fruits. You are talented and you deserve good fortune. 

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