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9-Year-Old Santa Clara Boy Is Youngest US Chess ‘Master’

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Chessboard. (AP)

Chessboard. (AP)

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SANTA CLARA (AP) — A 9-year-old Santa Clara boy has become the youngest-ever chess “master” in the United States, according to the United States Chess Federation.

Samuel Sevian earned the title after a Dec. 11 match in San Francisco, where the federation — the governing body of competitive chess — gave him a rating of 2,201. A rating of 2,200 qualifies a player as a “national master.”

Samuel beat the previous record-holder for youngest chess master, Nicholas Nip of San Francisco, by 11 days. Before that, Hikaru Nakamura had held onto the record for a decade after earning the master title at the age of 10.

The federation’s ultimate title is that of “senior master” for ratings of 2,400 and up.

It’s not the first record for Samuel, a fourth-grader at Don Callejon School who turns 10 on Sunday. Samuel also was the youngest person to reach the previous chess level of “expert” when he was 8. He’s been playing since 5.

“I like the tactics and the combinations,” Samuel said of the game, to the San Jose Mercury News.

He spends at least two hours each day studying chess moves in books, playing with his father — a physicist who himself has reached the “expert” level — and practicing with his Los Angeles-based coach over the Internet video calling site Skype.

“I met Samuel three years ago in Santa Monica at a tournament when he was 7,” coach Andranik Matikozyan, an international chess master, told the Mercury News. “When I saw him playing, I was amazed. I thought, ‘This kid is really talented.’”

Samuel wasn’t content to earn the “master” title. He played another tournament the next day.

(© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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