THE PIECES are being shuttled across the chessboard at blinding speeds. Sitting at the table, without an opponent, Sam Sevian moves them all, white and black, and does so without a moment of hesitation. When a piece is captured, he topples it hard to the board and ejects it briskly from play.
The 13-year-old is re-creating from memory a game he played earlier, something he and virtually all elite chess players do constantly. There is always plenty to be learned from a previous contest, no matter the outcome — which, in this case, was a win for Sam. So he reviews all the moves, eventually reaching the point when he feels he secured the game. “Now it’s over,” he says softly. “He played desperate.” This confidence is hardly out of character for someone his age.