Caruana switching back to U.S.A.

by Alejandro Ramirez
5/12/2015 – It was a dance that lasted a couple of years. The U.S. Federation had been set on getting back the strongest American citizen for a while now, and they have finally achieved it. A press release issued only moments ago confirms that Fabiano Caruana will be rejoining the U.S. Chess Federation and will be playing under American flag as soon as September of this year.

The United States Chess Federation has just published the following press release:

SAINT LOUIS (May 12, 2015) - The United States Chess Federation (USCF) today announced that Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana has initiated the application process to change chess federations, which, when approved, will allow him to play for the United States.  Fabiano, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Italy, has been playing for the Italian Chess Federation for a number of years.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be representing the United States again and working with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Id like to thank everybody who has made this possible, and I look forward to this exciting new partnership," said Fabiano Caruana."In addition, I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude for the support given to me over the past ten years by the Italian Chess Federation. I wish them all the best for the future."

When complete, this change will unite Fabiano Caruana,  who is ranked third in the world, with Hikaru Nakamura, the world's fourth ranked player and Wesley So who is ninth, under the United States flag.

"The addition of Fabiano Caruana to the United States' roster is historic. For the first time in history the United States will have three of the top ten players in world " said Jean Hoffman, Executive Director of the USCF, "Over the past several years, we have made tremendous strides to increase the awareness of, and appreciation for, the great game of chess in the United States. The return of Fabiano to the USCF is another large step toward achieving our goals."

Caruana hopes to compete in his first tournament as a United States player on the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour at the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, Missouri.  The Grand Chess Tour is a circuit of international events for the world's best players. The 2015 Tour was created in partnership between the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (Sinquefield Cup), Tower AS (Norway Chess 2015) and Chess Promotions, Ltd. (London Chess Classic). 

Fabiano Caruana played for the U.S. Federation from the age of five until the age of thirteen. In October of 2005 he switched his FIDE affiliation to Italy. At the moment, that was a natural change since he lived in Europe and intended to stay there.

Fabiano Caruana beat Aleksander Wojtkiewicz back in 2003
in the Marshall Chess Club in New York.

In 2007 he gave the following statement in an interview:

"My situation with regard to choice of federations is somewhat unique," he said. "Due to my dual citizenship, I can play for Italy or the United States, and due to my residency, I can play for Hungary. It's nice to have choices." However, his first priority is to benefit Italian chess by raising its visibility in Italy, such that the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) takes notice and upgrades its official status from an "Associate Sport" to a "National Sport" such as football, tennis, etc. This change would provide for full financial backing of chess at the national level."

At 14 Fabiano was celebrated as a GM, Italian Champion and the country's top ranked player

Back in 2007 we had a little fun at the expense of the young chess prodigy. First we publised an artificially aged picture of a child and asked our readers to guess who this (future) grandmaster was. There followed a number of more or less helpful hints. A week later we revealed that it was Fabiano – and provided our readers with a lot of super-cute pictures from his childhood.

The future grandmaster at the age of three

It was not a secret that the U.S. Federation had been trying to get Caruana back into its squad for a couple of years now. He even received an invitation to play in last year's U.S. Chess Championship, but had to decline. It seems that the U.S. Federation, with heavy backing by the Saint Louis Chess Club and its sponsor, Rex Sinquefield, have finally managed to bring back the number three player in the World into their ranks. With this change, and based on the latest rating list, the following would be USA's Olympic Team:

Name Rating
World Rk.
Age
Caruana, Fabiano 2803
3
22
Nakamura, Hikaru 2799
4
27
So, Wesley 2778
9
21
Robson, Ray 2674
64
20
Kamsky, Gata 2673
65
40

Kamsky had said previously that he would not participate in team tournaments any more, at least representing his country. With him out of the picture the reserve board would be up for grabs between Onischuk, Shankland and possibly Lenderman if he continues playing as he has in the past couple of months. Also close by are Akobian and youngsters Naroditsky and Zherebukh - the latter switched from Ukraine to USA just this month.

America's massive rating average would be 2745.4. Only Russia can surpass that with 2759.4 amongst their top players.

It will be interesting to see how this affects Caruana's participation in the FIDE Grand Prix and the Candidates Tournament cycle.

Link to the press release


Topics Switch , Caruana

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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Josue Josue 5/12/2015 09:01
Dissapointed. He increased the embarrasing attitude of the USA: to buy chess nerds, instead of developing their own (as China did!). How is is possible for a country not to be ashamed of not having any original players representing it at the highest level! Neither Caruana nor Nakamura nor So can be considered 100% USAs people.
I was a big fan of Caruana, but now I'm terribly dissapointed.
koko48 koko48 5/12/2015 09:35
That is incorrect, Josue - Caruana was born in the US, learned chess in the US,. and became a strong player in the US

Nakamura was not born in the US but has been living in the US since the age of two...As a chessplayer he is completely a product of the US
Hamsuns Hamsuns 5/12/2015 09:41
Josue - get informed please before putting a comment (as koko48 rightly points) - as politics concerns, I'm anti-USA same as anti-Putin etc, but this is something different. Cheers.
DJones DJones 5/12/2015 09:46
Josue putting his ignorance and arrogance on display. Fabiano is not exactly a product of Italian chess development. He became a Master in the US, was born in and spent his entire childhood in the US and doesn't speak Italian. Nakamura is american by birth through his mother, Carolyn. He is totally a product of the US chess system from his first moves to his breakthrough in the 2700s 5 years ago. If anyone is a mercenary player it's Wesley So. He should be playing for Philipines or Canada but he did breakthrough under the tutelage of Susan Polgar's Webster university program and we will take him too. USA now will have 3 top 10 players and with Robson Onischuk and Shankland filling lower and reserve boards we will be winning some hardware. Don't hate, appreciate. Besides, we are a nation of immigrants after all.
mosherachmuth mosherachmuth 5/12/2015 10:23
There is no "I" in "chess" but there is an "I" in "scacchi."
Rational Rational 5/12/2015 10:45
To be honest I don't feel that patriotic about chess tournaments. It seems more reasonable to support the guys playing your favourite openings rather than one's country man.
shatranjian shatranjian 5/12/2015 11:05
I think if US chess would be strong the chess world will be strong. Dont forget that what great change made bobby fisher an american chess player to the chess world. I am glad with this story.
algorithmy algorithmy 5/12/2015 11:21
Traitor!! just kidding!!
Best wishes for you Caruana, you are one of the best in the world, and I hope USA will offer you better chances you definitely deserve.
algorithmy algorithmy 5/12/2015 11:26
well done, DJones. I like your logic. I myself an Arab, so I'm not big fan for the USA, but my hat off for a good reply!
johnmk johnmk 5/12/2015 11:31
Hmm, so was there an incentive for Caruana to switch? A financial incentive? Or is it just a sporting proposition? These days money usually is at least part of it.
DJones DJones 5/12/2015 11:42
Rex Sinquefield has a great vision for chess in the USA and he is making it happen. Fabiano chose to get back on the train at the right moment. He sees his best chances for a WCC and Olympiad results as well as endorsement deals and support by playing for the US federation. The establishment of the golden league probably played a role as well. I doubt Rex paid him any sum of money to change.
DJones DJones 5/13/2015 12:43
It pays to be a winner. B-)
scoobeedo scoobeedo 5/13/2015 01:24
Shame on Caruana and the USA.

I would never trust a person who betray his nationality for benefits.

I look down on Caruana ... he is just a cheap little street ....
sco-ish sco-ish 5/13/2015 01:25
DJones - you said it!
marcwordsmith marcwordsmith 5/13/2015 01:47
Welcome, Fabiano!!!!! So wonderful to have you! A great gentleman and a stellar grandmaster. WE LOVE YOU!
tigerprowl tigerprowl 5/13/2015 02:57
Why are we so obsessed with country representation? Do we worry if a famous scientist like Stephen Hawking is British or Chinese? Or, do we pay more attention to the person's individual achievements? This only helps in team events and getting sponsoring (money!!!). Countries that only train native players treat others as secondary. I would much rather see Chinese train a mix of Europeans, Chinese, Africans, etc... as a collective group giving everyone equal opportunities to live and work where they want. Russia is not far behind either. Eventually they will do the same and we can have matches instead country olympic style farce tournaments.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/13/2015 02:58
scoobeedo... Not sure why you don't know that Caruana was born in the U.S. (Miami, Florida), raised in the U.S. (Brooklyn, New York) and represented the U.S. as a youth, then switched to Italy... and now back to U.S. It's amazing how many people don't know his background.
thlai80 thlai80 5/13/2015 03:15
Seems like some judged the players by their names. So Nakamura was supposed to represent Japan(?) and Fabiano represents Italy(?). What about Obama ... doesn't sounds American to me, let alone be the president??!

Caruana and So weren't the only ones. Karjakin and Lahno switched to Russia, Zhang Zhong from China to Singapore, ex-women world champion Zhu Chen to Qatar, Korchnoi representing Switzerland(!), Shirov for Latvia to Spain and back to Latvia (!!) and not to mention Anand though he didn't switch at all, never represented India for ages ... the list is way longer than we thought.
ff2017 ff2017 5/13/2015 03:19
Hikaru is right about one thing, international pickings will be slim for the Robson's and Shankland's with the big 3 sucking up all the oxygen.
gmwdim gmwdim 5/13/2015 03:26
Wow, there are some ignorant xenophobes here.
alekhina alekhina 5/13/2015 03:45
Now the strongest teams are : Russia, U.S.A and China...And these are also the strongest nations in terms of military weapons.
DJones DJones 5/13/2015 04:00
<[b]Hikaru is right about one thing, international pickings will be slim for the Robson's and Shankland's with the big 3 sucking up all the oxygen[/b].>

Well they could become slimmer for Caruana, So and Nakamura(who is not everyone's cup of tea). I am not sure how many US federation players they will have in super events in Europe. One might think they go down the rating lists in order, checking who is interested and what their appearance fee and accommodation cost will be. I don't know if for example the oraginzers at Wijk aan Zie or GRENKE chess will be willing to invite Caruana and Wes and Hikaru. Slots are limited, which will just make the internal fighting to be the top US player even more intense. Before, just being top 10 might have been enough to secure 5 super event and 5 smaller event invites in a year which is a nice living. Now four of those events might become unavailable to the players due to overcrowding.
charlesthegreat charlesthegreat 5/13/2015 04:03
Carlsen, you're next. Haha. Your best opponents are moving to the USA, your turn to join the bandwagon ;).
jim24 jim24 5/13/2015 04:10
Josue, you're confusing U.S. collegiate chess, where most of their players are lured from other countries via scholarships, with U.S. professional chess.
Rational Rational 5/13/2015 05:54
Overall for World chess I feel this is a good thing as Rex Sinquefield has done some excellent things for chess, which not only Americans gain from. From Caruanas point of view it seems to offer more career opportunities.
Rinzou Wilkerson Rinzou Wilkerson 5/13/2015 05:56
Where do people like Josue and scoobeedo live? Obviously not in the USA. I'm betting somewhere under a rock.
dysanfel dysanfel 5/13/2015 06:08
It's about time! Thank you to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and Fabiano Caruana for this amazing news!!!!
firestorm firestorm 5/13/2015 07:54
... Stephen Hawking is Chinese?

That's going to leave a black hole in British chess.

Never mind US playing in the Olympiad, imagine St. Louis in the club championships. You get to play Gata on board 6.
HarryHaller HarryHaller 5/13/2015 12:12
What effect will this have on the US tournament circuit? Will there be improvements in the currently awful conditions? More opportunities for professional players who did not grow up under the rarefied conditions of Caruana, etc? Will the USCF finally start to crack down on amateur level players who fraudulently call themselves "GM"? I think not. As usual, all sponsorship will go towards youth chess (i.e. to the politicians, teachers, and program directors who did not earn their position by hard work or talent but rather by connections and manipulation), while the same conditions which caused Caruana to have to move away in order to become a top player will persist. Merit-based professional opportunities continue to exist only for three or four players, while open tournaments and other "normal" tournaments are completely neglected.
Oscar Lito M Pablo Oscar Lito M Pablo 5/13/2015 12:18
I'm absolutely curious what Hikaru Nakamura will say about Caruana's transfer to the US Chess Federation and playing for the U.S. Chess Team.

In a videotaped interview in Gibraltar early this year, when asked about Wesley So's transfer to the US Chess Federation, Nakamura stated that it DEPRIVES other US chess players like Shankland and Robson of opportunities to be invited to international chess tournaments.

What will Nakamura say now about Caruana? I can't wait to hear what the dude is going to say. ;)
KevinC KevinC 5/13/2015 01:04
@Oscar Lito M Pablo, I would not expect the same argument since if you have been reading, Caruana IS American. I would not expect him to say much.
BabyPfuscher BabyPfuscher 5/13/2015 01:32
This is incredible news! Welcome back Fabiano!!
Derek880 Derek880 5/13/2015 01:42
Wow....complete ignorance...

America is a country of immigrants. This whole idea of 100% US bred is outdated and embarrassing, and is what you usually see on an ignorant Fox News forum full of uneducated hicks. We should be glad to have Caruana represent the US. It's good for US Chess, and will probably give more sponsorship to stronger US tournaments. Sometimes, you just have to get over the nonsense people. It's 2015. The idea, notion, or intention of the "pure" American is over.
ashperov ashperov 5/13/2015 02:10
This is awesome. Even though im not an American. I love American ideals. Which is to win. to be number 1. Kick ass!
Aighearach Aighearach 5/13/2015 02:10
Welcome home Fabiano! You had to come back eventually, either that or learn Italian.
scoobeedo scoobeedo 5/13/2015 03:31
Chessdrummer:

I know his history.

But first he was playing as a yougn boy in the US chess federation, then in the italian , now back in the US.

Is he thinking that he can change the nations as it suites him?

If Italy offer him in two years a 300 m² on the lake como and every year 1 million us$ ... is he then moving back to italy and wait that the USA raise their payment?
karavamudan karavamudan 5/13/2015 05:32
Caruana is sliding in the ELO rating like Aronian, almost in a free fall. He will end up like Kamsky.

chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/13/2015 06:12
scoobeedo... not about money. It is about where he feels he can fulfill his dream of being World Champion. So many player emigrate for many reasons. Lahno and Karjakin left Russia without much fanfare and Russia was already 2750 ELO Olympiad team. Lahno went to a Russian women's team that had won two consecutive gold medals.

Why was there no objection to this?
AustinTX_Liberal AustinTX_Liberal 5/13/2015 06:43
Great news and welcome back to the US! This will be great for chess in the US, and around the world.
ChiliBean ChiliBean 5/13/2015 08:57
I was so excited when I saw this headline. We finally have a team that may medal in the next Olympiad. Can't wait!