My Chess Accomplishments

(Life Master Dr. Shearwood McClelland III, M.D. @TheDrWood)

Chess has been an important part of my life. I learned the game when I was 7 years old, primarily because my mom was afraid that I would rot my brains by playing Nintendo all of the time :). I really came into my own when I was about 13, so I was a relatively late bloomer. Here are some of the things that I have been fortunate enough to achieve:

Historic Achievements (independent of race):

  • First person to win the National 11th Grade and National 12th Grade Chess Championships
  • Youngest person to win at least two New Jersey State Championships (20 years, 3 months and 14 days)
  • Youngest person to repeat as New Jersey State Champion
  • Only person to win New York and New Jersey high school championships in the same year
  • Only person to win New York and New Jersey high school championships in back-to-back years

    National Championships (5; 4 major, 1 blitz):

  • 1993 National Junior High School Co-Champion
  • 1994 National 11th Grade Champion [I dedicated this title to Kevin Satin, and it was here that I played my best game ever to win the tournament]
  • 1995 National 12th Grade Champion (first person ever to win 11th and 12th grade championships)
  • 1995 National K-12th Grade Blitz Champion
  • 1997 United States Junior Open Champion

  • Also: 1993 National High School Runner-Up

    State Championships (12; 7 in NJ, 5 in NY):

  • 1989 New Jersey Junior State Champion
  • 1990 New Jersey Elememtary Champion
  • 1990 New York December Under 13-Open Champion
  • 1993 New York City Junior High School Champion [This was the first championship that I dedicated to Kevin, as it was a great accomplishment for me]
  • 1993 New Jersey High School Champion
  • 1993 New York State High School Quick Chess Champion
  • 1994 New Jersey High School Co-Champion
  • 1994 New York State High School Co-Champion (first person ever to win NY and NJ High school titles in the same year)
  • 1995 New York State High School Co-Champion
  • 1995 New Jersey State High School Champion
  • 1997 New Jersey State Champion (accomplished at the age of 19 years, 3 months and 8 days)
  • 1998 New Jersey State Champion [I dedicated this championship to the memory of Kevin Satin, as the tournament ended on the 10 year anniversary of the day that he died; only fourth person ever to repeat as New Jersey state champion]


  • National Master - accomplished in 1994 at the age of 15 years, 11 months and 14 days; awarded to less than 1% of all people who play chess
  • 1995 Scholastic Chess All-American (age 16; 1 of 41 selected out of 28,000 eligible)
  • Life Master - accomplished at age the age of 17 years, 7 months, and 8 days in 1996; awarded to less than half of all chess masters
  • 1996 National Scholar-Chessplayer Award Winner
  • 7th Place, 1998 Tournament of State Chess Champions (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Invited to the 1998 Interplay United States Junior Invitational Championship (by virtue of my status as the 1997 U.S. Junior Open Champion); finished 7th.
  • Defeated Bu Xiangzhi of China, at that time the youngest grandmaster in chess history, on May 5, 2000.

    Historic Achievements (involving race):


  • First African American to win five national championships
  • First African-American to win more than one national chess championship
  • First African-American to win the National Junior High School Championship
  • Only African-American to win the National-Scholar Chessplayer Award
  • First African-American to be reigning All-American, National Champion, and National Master simultaneously (December 1994)
  • First African-American to win a national scholastic blitz chess championship


  • Most national chess championships won by an African-American (held from April 1993 until July 2013)
  • Youngest African-American Life Master at 17 years, 7 months and 8 days (held from January 1996 until July 2008)
  • Most national scholastic blitz championships by an African-American (held from December 1995 until November 2009)

    Games (special thanks to Prof. Daaim Shabazz for putting these games in PalView format):

  • McClelland vs. Ariel, National 11th Grade Championships 1994. Winning this game gave me the 1994 National 11th Grade Championship, making me the first African-American to win multiple national championships.
  • Stripunsky-McClelland, 1997 New Jersey Open. This win shocked the New Jersey chess world, and catapulted me to the first of my two New Jersey state championships.
  • Bu-McClelland, 2000 New York Open. This win came against the youngest grandmaster in chess history, considered by many to be a viable future World Champion. This was his first ever tournament game in the United States; below is an annotated version of the game (please click on the pages for larger version):


  • The Jet article that I was featured in can be found here.
  • The Ebony magazine article that I was in can be found here.
  • A chess biography of myself can be found here.

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