Shankland Wins Final Spot in Saint Louis
April 6, 2009
IM Sam Shankland will get the final spot in the U.S. Championship, Photo Michael Aigner, 2008
IM Sam Shankland of Northern California won the final match against Mackenzie Molner of New Jersey to claim the title of the State Champion of Champions and the last spot in the 2009 U.S. Championship (May 7-17, Saint Louis.) The match came all the way down to the wire, with the two splitting the rapid and blitz matches. 

Shankland was a bronze medallist at the 2008 World Under 18 Championship in Vietnam. Sam's USCF rating has shot up almost 200 points in just one year. At that rate, who knows how well he can do in the U.S. Championship, despite being one of the lower rated players in the field.

State Champion of Champions Final

In a random draw for colors in the Armageddon match, Sam got the White pieces and five minutes while Mackenzie got four minutes and draw odds. Sam told CLO, "Although the regulation games were at least somewhat real, once the blitz started it felt strange, like the result would be somewhat random and we were playing for (so much)."

Shankland is excited to play in Saint Louis and told CLO, "I was so thrilled to pull it out in the end after such a tough match. Molner was a very tough opponent."

Find out more about the State Champion of Champions and see the full list of U.S. Championship contenders here. Also check out an interview with Sam Shankland along with all of his games from Vietnam, annotated.