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.

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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



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.