Ray Robson 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.
Robson was born in Guam to Gary Robson, a professor at the college of education applied linguistics at St. Petersburg College, and Yee-chen, a kindergarten teacher at Country Day School. They later moved to Largo, Florida and then Clearwater, Florida. As an only child, he learned chess from his father at age three. 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 has said he wants to become a professional chess player, and his parents hoped for him to gain a chess scholarship to college. 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. In 2009 Robson was the recipient of the Samford Fellowship. In early 2012, Robson decided to attend Webster University instead of UT Dallas.
In August 2012, Robson started his full-time study at Webster University in St. Louis under the SPICE Program, founded by former Women's World Champion Susan Polgar.
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.
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. 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.
In 2004, at the age of nine, Robson defeated his first National Master in tournament play. He studied with GM Gregory Kaidanov for almost two years 2005–07, mainly via the phone and Internet. He has also studied with GM Alexander Onischuk.
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 2300 the minimum required for the title. 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.
Robson tied for first place in the 2008 Florida championship. On July 16, 2009, he won the U.S. Junior Chess Championship. In August 2009, Robson tied for first at the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, Norway, garnering his first GM norm in the process. 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. He earned his third and final GM norm in October 2009 by winning the Pan-American Junior Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay, making him a GM-elect. He was formally awarded the title by FIDE in January 2010.
Robson played in his first FIDE World Cup in November 2009 in Russia. He competed again in this event two year later and was eliminated in the first round by Étienne Bacrot. Robson won the 2012 Webster University - SPICE Cup Open in St. Louis with an undefeated score of 7-2 . 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.
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