Student Spotlight

Robert S.

Robert S.
Robert S.

Robert S.

Robert S., 14, is a high school freshman at SMCS. He has been a straight- A student a SMCS for 7 years. Since last year, he started taking college level classes at Santa Monica College.
When not busy with his schoolwork, Robert can be usually found with a chess book or at his chess board. Recognized by LA Times as a “shining star”, Robert is among the top 15 players Southern California, and among the top 100 speed chess players (of all ages) in the US. At the age of 11, Robert was awarded the prestigious National Master title by the US Chess Federation; this October, he earned the international chess federation FIDE Master title.
Robert is the reigning Southern California Chess champion, becoming the youngest player ever to earn this title after winning the state championship last summer and receiving a $2,000 cash prize. In addition to his successes in top adult tournaments, Robert is active in youth events. After placing first in the Annual Greater California Scholastic Championship in 2018, Robert won the 2019 Southern California SuperStates K-8 tournament, earning an invitation to represent Southern California at the national Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions in Florida. Robert won that event, earning a $5,000 college scholarship.
Robert’s passion for chess requires a lot of dedication and regular serious studies at home. He uses his extensive collection of over 240 chess books and a modern chess analysis programs to prepare for tournaments, studying 2-3 hours a day during the school year and 5+ hours when on vacation.
Robert became interested in chess when he was 3 years old while watching his parents teaching the game to his older brother. This curiosity grew into a serious commitment. He credits his long-time teacher Grandmaster Alex Stripunsky for many chess insights and overall guidance.
Robert’s love of chess extends well beyond tournament play. Using his creative writing skills, Robert has written several articles for US Chess, one of which was chosen as among the top 10 published by US Chess in 2018. Most recently, he was invited to pen his own regular column in the quarterly magazine Rank & File.
Robert loves to share his passion for chess. He taught his own program to beginner chess players in WorldSpeak, an elementary school in Westwood, for an entire school year. This summer, he led two groups, for beginners and intermediate players, within the framework of the Los Angeles Math Circle at UCLA.
In addition to his chess achievements, Robert is an accomplished pianist, winning many local and district competitions, including the top prize in the state level California Association of Professional Music Teachers Contemporary Festival (2017) and placing 3rd in the state level Honors Auditions (2019). Robert’s other interests include music composition, math and swimming.

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