The Top Chess Players in the World

Sam Copeland

Sam Copeland
Full name
Sam Copeland
Aug 9, 1985 (age 38)‎
Place of birth
Valdosta, Georgia
United States



Sam Copeland is an American national master, writer, businessman, and's VP of Content. Sam reached his peak FIDE rating of 2198 in 2012 and peak USCF rating of 2310 in 2014.

Chess Career

Sam Copeland learned the game when he was five years old with the help of his father. They used to play checkers on a handmade board using milk bottle caps for pieces until his father bought a chess set and taught Sam how to play.

However, young Sam didn't learn all the rules until he was 10 and found chess books at a local library. After that, the young boy grew obsessed with the game and read every book he could put his hands on.

Sam eventually found a chess club where he could play against people other than his family. He then got a USCF membership and played his first tournament a few days before turning 16. He scored 4/4 in a U1400 section and got his first USCF rating of 1719.

Sam Copeland.
NM Sam Copeland playing chess. Photo: Sam Copeland/Facebook.

After that, Copeland started playing in many local and national tournaments. He drove to Charlotte, North Carolina, once a month to play Saturday events, where he beat his first master.

Sam then won the South Carolina High School Championship in his junior and senior years. He also represented South Carolina in the Denker tournaments in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, California—that was his first time flying.

NM Sam Copeland.
Sam won the 2016 Columbia Chess Club Championship. Photo: Columbia Chess.

Sam attended the University of Texas at Dallas. He picked that university not only because they had a strong program in his intended major but also because their chess club was nationally renowned. He received an academic scholarship and joined the UT-Dallas chess team. There Sam met great chess players and creators like GM Magesh Panchanathan, IM John Bartholomew, IM Dmitry Schneider, GM Davorin Kuljasevic, and IM Keaton Kiewra.

NM Sam Copeland.
Sam Copeland talking about one of his most expensive chess books in a YouTube video. Photo: Sam Copeland/YouTube.

In his senior year, Sam became the chess club's president and captain for the Dallas Destiny. In that year, the team competed in the second season of the U.S. Chess League.

Sam's most significant success came in 2006 when he won the Dallas Club Championship. In that event, he defeated IM Daniel Fernandez in the first round. It turned out to be a gorgeous game where Copeland played a double bishop sacrifice and won in spectacular fashion. You can check out the game below with annotations by Sam himself:

Sam considers this to be the best game of his career, and he even made a lesson that analyzes this game for

Sam believed his chess career to be over after going to graduate school in Buffalo, New York. However, he started playing rated events again after a three-year hiatus. At that point, his USCF rating was around 2100 and, contrary to what he believed, he played well and started gaining points.

NM Samuel Copeland.

Sam realized that becoming a master was a real possibility and started working on that goal. He eventually earned the national master title in 2012 and surged past the 2200 USCF rating mark, reaching his peak rating of 2310 in 2014. He won his first South Carolina State Championship in 2018. 


After becoming a national master, Copeland started giving private lessons and creating chess-related content online. In 2014, he moved to Columbia, South Carolina, and started his own company, Strategery.

NM Sam Copeland.
Sam creating a chess video for his company Strategery. Photo: Sam Copeland/Instagram.

According to Strategery's website, they dedicate themselves to teaching and celebrating chess and other strategic games in Columbia, the Midlands, and South Carolina. They do so by teaching scholastic chess and organizing tournaments and events. Over the years, the company has taught more than 1,000 students how to play chess. Vice President Of Content

Around the same time that he started his business, Sam also started creating blog posts and other content for After building a successful blog on's platform, the American national master caught the attention of the website's Chief Chess Officer, IM Danny Rensch.

Rensch offered Copeland a job with the News team, which Sam promptly accepted. Since then, he has been working with and has climbed the ranks becoming the Vice President of Content.

NM Samuel Copeland.
Sam in one of his videos. Photo: Sam Copeland/YouTube.

Sam has created a massive amount of articles, videos, and lessons for the website. He also streams regularly on his Twitch channel, where he plays games and goes over essential chess concepts.

His clear explanations and deep love for the game have helped him gain many fans. Here's a video from one of Sam's most successful series, where he analyzes games played by the world's most powerful engines.

Sam's blog is the most-read blog to this day, and he continues to create great content for chess lovers worldwide. Make sure you check out his videos and lessons here on to see this great chess educator and personality in action!

Best Game

Most Played Openings