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.

ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2021 ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2021

Your key to fresh ideas, precise analyses and targeted training!
Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


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.
Caruana, Fabiano 2803
Nakamura, Hikaru 2799
So, Wesley 2778
Robson, Ray 2674
Kamsky, Gata 2673

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 5/18/2015 09:06
Kamsky doesn't play team events? What about the Russian Team Rapid event just finished?
jona1969 jona1969 5/14/2015 05:52
There are many misconceptions in these comments.

First of all is in the rights of Fabiano to change federation, and good to him if he feels so. He is not to blame about that, searching for better conditions for himself. Yet would be interesting to see if he will change his residency too in the next months.

The problem is, it is wrong to give this possiblity to switch federation as you wish. In other sports, to play for a national team means you have to have citizenship under regular laws, and when you choose a federation and play once for that federation you cannot change anymore. That is a serious way to treat the matter, and it should be done in chess too. This will eliminate this kind of unpleasant "shopping" we are forced to see.

If you have double passport, you can choose for which to play, and then you must stick to it.

Caruana switched to italy at 13 before being a GM and before even becoming Master. He became that under italian flag and it is bad after 10 years seeing him switching again.

He is not to blame, but the current rules are. This are not rules for a serious sport, but for a jungle.

Imagine if the the USA national football team one day would be composed by Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Suarez, Pirlo. Of course that doesn't work.

This change can only be bad for this sport.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 5/14/2015 12:55
DBRussel, he wasn't bribed, but he was certainly paid. And paid a lot, I guess. But he is a professional player and one of the very best, so it is no surprise that money is helping him make his mind.
Josue Josue 5/14/2015 12:01
USA is a country of inmigrants... who also represent it in Chess! as they seem to be always better than the people who lived there for generations. And in the women's section the situation is not different. Nice reality to feel pride about.
If USA won the gold medal, would people from US feel it was actually won by the "US team"? And that it can be compared to the recent chinese gold medal??
Josue Josue 5/14/2015 12:01
To Rinzou Wilkerson: let's say I live under a rock: from there I'll tell my opinion and feelings!
Josue Josue 5/13/2015 11:59
To DJones and others: what is the strange reason makes you believe I didn't know Caruana's, Nakamura's and So's biography?? And also the reason you think you have the right to say if I'm arrogant and ignorant??
I know all you supossed I 'ignored' and all you 'informed me' in your first comment, and don't take off any word from my previous comment.
DBRussell DBRussell 5/13/2015 10:00
Caruana was clearly bribed to return to USCF!

He was doing a magnificent job under the italian flag heavily promoting the game in the country like the article says. He was so happy playing for Italy, why this preposterous change had to happen!?

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!
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.
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?
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.

scoobeedo scoobeedo 5/13/2015 03:31

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?
Aighearach Aighearach 5/13/2015 02:10
Welcome home Fabiano! You had to come back eventually, either that or learn Italian.
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!
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.
BabyPfuscher BabyPfuscher 5/13/2015 01:32
This is incredible news! Welcome back Fabiano!!
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.
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. ;)
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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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 ;).
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.
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.
gmwdim gmwdim 5/13/2015 03:26
Wow, there are some ignorant xenophobes here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
marcwordsmith marcwordsmith 5/13/2015 01:47
Welcome, Fabiano!!!!! So wonderful to have you! A great gentleman and a stellar grandmaster. WE LOVE YOU!
sco-ish sco-ish 5/13/2015 01:25
DJones - you said it!
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 ....
DJones DJones 5/13/2015 12:43
It pays to be a winner. B-)
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.
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.
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!
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.