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Ray Robson

Ray Robson
Robson in 2010
CountryUnited States
Born (1994-10-25) October 25, 1994 (age 29)
TitleGrandmaster (2010)
FIDE rating2700 (July 2024)
Peak rating2704 (April 2023)
RankingNo. 33 (July 2024)
Peak rankingNo. 33 (July 2024)

Ray Robson (born October 25, 1994) is an American chess player. He was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE in 2010. Robson fulfilled the requirements for the title in 2009 at the age of 14 years, 11 months and 16 days, making him the youngest ever United States Grandmaster at the time.[1]

Early life

Robson was born in Guam to American father Gary Robson, a professor at the college of education (applied linguistics) at St. Petersburg College, and Chinese mother Yee-chen, a kindergarten teacher at Country Day School.[2] They later moved to Largo, Florida and then Clearwater, Florida. As an only child, he learned chess from his father at age three.[3] He attended public school for kindergarten, then a public school for the gifted in first grade, then from grades 2-5 he was at a private Montessori school. He started homeschooling in grade 6.

Robson said as a child that he wanted to become a professional chess player, and his parents hoped for him to gain a chess scholarship to college.[3][4] In April 2005, at the Super Nationals (the world's largest scholastic chess tournament) in Nashville, Tennessee, he won every match he played and emerged as the national champion in the elementary age (K-6) division. By winning this title, he earned a four-year scholarship covering full tuition and fees, along with a housing stipend, to the University of Texas at Dallas. The scholarship has a cash value of about $48,000 to non-Texas residents. The only stipulation is that the winner must meet the university's entrance requirements at matriculation.[5] In 2009 Robson was the recipient of the Samford Fellowship.[6] In early 2012, Robson decided to attend Webster University instead of UT Dallas.[7]

In August 2012, Robson started his full-time study at Webster University in St. Louis under the SPICE Program,[8][9] founded by former Women's World Champion Susan Polgar.

Chess career

Robson has won seven national scholastic titles, including regulation events and blitz events. In addition, he has represented the United States in international scholastic events since 2004. Robson finished in the top ten at each of the World Youth Chess Championships from 2004 to 2007, and he tied for first place in the U12 section of the Pan American Youth Chess Festival in 2005 and 2006, taking the silver medal on tiebreak on both occasions.[10][11]

Robson also plays in many of the major open tournaments in the United States. He finished in the top ten both at the 2006 National Chess Congress in Philadelphia and at the 2006 North American Open in Las Vegas.[12] Robson's performance at the former event qualified him for the 2007 U.S. Chess Championship, making him the youngest player in the history of the event.[citation needed]

In 2004, at the age of nine, Robson defeated his first National Master in tournament play.[citation needed] In 2005, he defeated his first international master (IM), and in 2006 he defeated his first grandmaster (GM).[citation needed] He studied with GM Gregory Kaidanov for almost two years[13] (2005–07), mainly via the phone and Internet. He has also studied with GM Alexander Onischuk.[14]

Robson was awarded the title of FIDE Master (FM) in June 2005 after tying for first place at the Pan American Youth Festival in Brazil. He earned the USCF title of National Master (NM) in January 2006 by raising his Elo rating above 2200. Robson earned the three norms required for the IM title in only six weeks: the first at the 6th North American FIDE Invitational on November 3, 2007, in Chicago, Illinois; the second on November 27 at the World Youth Championships in Antalya, Turkey, and the third and final norm on December 10 at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) GM Invitational in Dallas, Texas, making him the youngest IM-elect in the United States, beating the previous record-holder Hikaru Nakamura by one month.[13]

Robson tied for first place in the 2008 Florida championship.[15] On July 16, 2009, he won the U.S. Junior Chess Championship.[16] In August 2009, Robson tied for first at the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, Norway, garnering his first GM norm in the process.[17] Later that same month, Robson then went on to earn his second GM norm by winning the 23rd North American FIDE Invitational in Skokie, Illinois.[18] He earned his third and final GM norm in October 2009 by winning the Pan American Junior Chess Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay.[19] He was formally awarded the title by FIDE in January 2010.[20]

Robson played in his first FIDE World Cup in November 2009 in Russia. He competed again in this event two years later and was eliminated in the first round by Étienne Bacrot.[21] Robson won the 2012 Webster University - SPICE Cup Open in St. Louis with an undefeated score of 7-2 .[22] In 2014, he finished second in Millionaire Chess in Las Vegas, losing to Wesley So in the final round. In April 2015, Robson finished second in the 2015 U.S. Championship, held for the seventh consecutive year at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. He won five games, drew five, and lost one, scoring 7½/11 points.

Robson is the current (as of January 2024) five-time Puzzle Battle World Champion, holding the title for five consecutive years from 2020 to 2024.[23] He won the 2023 tournament while only losing a single individual battle.[24] He crossed FIDE classical rating of 2700 in November 2022.[25]


  1. ^ "Ray Robson is the newest American GM!". Chessdom. 2009-12-12. Archived from the original on 2021-04-13.
  2. ^ 2005 National K-12 Tournament. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b Terry Bryce, Reeves (2004-12-06). "Fourth-grade prodigy makes his move in chess world". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  4. ^ Largo boy one of the world's best youth chess players Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine February 19, 2008. The Associated Press.
  5. ^ "Chess king wins college scholarship at 10". Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  6. ^ Kaufman, Allen (2009-04-27). "IM Ray Robson Wins Samford Fellowship". United States Chess Federation. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  7. ^ "Ray Robson". Saint Louis Chess Club. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  8. ^ Dominik Jansky (2012-05-24). "Video: Webster and SPICE Aim to Make St. Louis International Home for Chess : Webster Today". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  9. ^ "Index | Webster University". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  10. ^ Adaucto Wanderley da Nóbrega. Balneário Camboriú 2005 - 18° Campeonato Panamericano u12 (boys). BrasilBase.
  11. ^ Adaucto Wanderley da Nóbrega. Cuenca 2006 - 19° Campeonato Panamericano u12 (boys). BrasilBase.
  12. ^ 16th North American Open: Open Section
  13. ^ a b McClain, Dylan Loeb (December 16, 2007). "Florida Boy, Just 13, Sprints to International Master Title". New York Times.
  14. ^ Shahade, Jennifer (2009-02-23). "Play Like Ray in Moscow". United States Chess Federation. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  15. ^ "Florida championship 2008". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  16. ^ "US Junior Championship: IM Ray Robson, 14, victorious". Chess News. ChessBase. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
  17. ^ "Resultatlister". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  18. ^ Title Applications- 1st quarter Presidential Board 2010, 3-6 January 2010, Bursa, TUR . FIDE. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  19. ^ Ray Robson Earns Final GM Norm!. United States Chess Federation. Accessed on 2009-10-20.
  20. ^ "FIDE Titles Awarded at the Bursa Presidential Board 1/2010". FIDE. 8 January 2010. Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  21. ^ Crowther, Mark (2011-09-21). "The Week in Chess: FIDE World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk 2011". London Chess Center. Archived from the original on 2011-10-20. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information". 22 October 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2012.
  23. ^ Levin, Anthony (2024-01-12). "Robson Wins 5th Consecutive Title, Beats Young Gun". Retrieved 2024-01-13.
  24. ^ West (NM_Vanessa), Vanessa (2023-01-14). "'Robson Is The Mittens Of Puzzle Rush'". Retrieved 2023-11-26.
  25. ^
Achievements Preceded byHikaru Nakamura Youngest ever United States International Master 2007–13 Succeeded bySamuel Sevian Preceded byFabiano Caruana Youngest ever United States Grandmaster 2009–14 Succeeded bySamuel Sevian
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Ray Robson
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