Interview With Samuel Sevian, Nine-Year-Old Local Chess Master, and His Dad

Yesterday, we did a post about nine-year-old Samuel Sevian, who a couple of weeks ago became the youngest American ever to attain the title of National Chess Master. Sam attends the Don Callejon School in Santa Clara.

Here are part of conversations I had with Sam and his father, Armen…

  • Sam’s father describes Sam’s history playing chess:
  • How chess ratings work at this level

  • Playing multiple opponents — blindfolded
  • Sam’s favorite chess players
  • What Sam wants to be when he grows up
  • Searching for Samuel Sevian

    Nine days ago, Samuel Sevian of Santa Clara, just a few weeks short of his tenth birthday, played in a tournament at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco, tying for first place.

    Photo Bay Area Chess
    That showing was good enough to qualify him as the youngest chess master in U.S. history, beating the old record held by another local prodigy, Nicholas Nip of San Francisco. A chess master is a player who attains a World Chess Federation (FIDE) rating of 2200. In the U.S., the title of National Master is awarded for life. He had already become the youngest player ever to attain the level of “chess expert” when he was eight.

    Sam’s dad, Armen Sevian, tells me Sam has been playing since the age of five; that he plays a couple of hours a day on the Internet; and that he has beaten as many as five players at a time — not to mention his father, a laser physicist with a 1900 rating — while blindfolded. (Sam keeps track of the moves in his head.) He’s also been know to put on an exhibition or two…

    Among active players, Sam is now ranked No. 540 in the U.S. and No. 18,932 in the world, according to FIDE.

    Next up for Sam: Trying to become an International Master, a much more difficult accomplishment, says Armen.

    You can follow Sam’s rise up the ratings ladder from age six on.

    We’ll have some audio of Sam and his father coming up soon…


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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