Shankland, Bhat and Friedel honored at Mechanics' Institute
By IM John Donaldson   
February 1, 2009
San Francisco, California- International Master Sam Shankland of Orinda, California, was recently awarded the 2009 Falconer Award at a special presentation at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in downtown San Francisco. This award, the 10th in the series, is given annually by former US Senior Champion Neil Falconer to the highest rated player under 18 in Northern California the preceding year. The money prize is equal to the youngster's rating on the December USCF rating supplement - in Sam's case 2425 - and was presented to him by Mechanics’ Executive Director James Flack.

Previous winners of the Falconer include:

2000 IM Vinay Bhat
2001 IM Vinay Bhat
2002 IM Vinay Bhat
2003 NM Michael Pearson
2004 NM Nicholas Yap
2005 NM Matthew Ho
2006 NM Matthew Ho
2007 NM Nicholas Yap
2008 NM Sam Shankland

Sam was also given certificates and pins from FIDE in recognition for achieving the FIDE Master and International Master titles the past year. 2008 was not bad year for the 17-year-old high school senior who tied for first place in the World under 18 Championships last October in Vietnam.

Joining him in receiving honors were fellow Mechanics' Members Vinay Bhat and Josh Friedel who were presented certificates and pins for achieving the Grandmaster title. Bhat, Friedel and Shankland were all key members of the 2008 Mechanics' team in the US Chess League which also included 10-year-old Master Nicholas Nip and 13-year-old Gregory Young who tied for first in the 2008 US Junior Closed.

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, the oldest continuously operated chess club in the United States, was founded in 1854. During its over 150 year existence the M.I. has hosted various luminaries from Johannes Zuckertort in 1884 to Boris Spassky in 2006. The club is open seven days a week for play and hosts tournament throughout the year including its popular Tuesday Night Marathon series. You can find out more information about the Mechanics' Chess Club at

GM Josh Friedel, GM Vinay Bhat and IM Sam Shankland, with their FIDE certificates.