msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/22/2010 4:02:14 AM ET 2010-12-22T09:02:14

A 9-year-old California boy has become the youngest-ever chess "master" in the United States.

Samuel Sevian, of Santa Clara, earned the title after a match in San Francisco.

The United States Chess Federation, the governing body of competitive chess, gave him a rating of 2,201 after the Dec. 11 match. A rating of 2,200 qualifies a player as a "national master."

Samuel achieved the rating at the age of 9 years, 11 months and 15 days, according to the The San Jose Mercury News.

He beat the previous record-holder for youngest chess master, Nicholas Nip, of San Francisco, by 11 days.

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It's not the first record for the 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.

The federation's ultimate title is that of "senior master" for ratings of 2,400 and up.

"It feels good,'' Samuel told the Mercury News. "I like the tactics and the combinations," he added, describing his interest in the game.

Better than dad
His father Armen Sevian, 37, a physicist who works developing lasers in Santa Clara, said his son now had a higher rating he did. Sevian senior has only achieved the expert rating, the paper said.

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He and his son play chess together, the Mercury News reported, but the boy's mother Armine Sevian, 37, and sister Isabelle, 8, do not. Isabelle prefers playing the violin and dancing. "Every attempt to teach her to play chess fails," Sevian said.

Samuel's other interests include reading and playing soccer, the paper said.

Samuel's coach, the international master Andranik Matikozyan, of Los Angeles, said he had met the boy three years ago at a tournament in Santa Monica.

"When I saw him playing, I was amazed. I thought, 'This kid is really talented,'" he said, according to the Mercury News.

The Sevian family is from Armenia where chess is "very big," Sevian senior told the paper.

"It's certainly not a geek sport," he added. "Chess players are compared to rock stars."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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