Fabiano Luigi Caruana (born July 30, 1992) is an Italian-American chess grandmaster, former chess prodigy, and currently the second-highest ranked player in the world. He played for the US until 2005, when he switched to Italy, and he subsequently switched back to the US in 2015. He is the current US champion.
On July 15, 2007, Caruana became a grandmaster (GM) at the age of 14 years, 11 months, 20 days—the youngest grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States (his US record was beaten in October 2009 by Ray Robson). In October 2014, he achieved an Elo rating of 2844, becoming the third highest rated player in history.
Personal life and chess beginnings
Fabiano Luigi Caruana was born on July 30, 1992 in Miami, United States, to Lou and Santina Caruana. He is a citizen of both Italy and the USA.
At the age of four his family relocated from Miami to the borough of Brooklyn, Park Slope, New York. At the age of five, his chess talent was discovered in an after school chess program at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope. The same year he played his first tournament at the Polgar Chess Center in Queens, New York.
Until the age of twelve, he lived and played in the United States, occasionally traveling to Europe and South America to participate in tournaments. His first chess coach, from age six to eight, was National Master (NM) Bruce Pandolfini, and from age eight to twelve he studied with GM Miron Sher.
In 2004 at age twelve, he relocated with his family from Brooklyn to Madrid to pursue a professional chess career, playing for Italy from 2005 to 2015. He trained with International Master (IM) Boris Zlotnik in Madrid, and in 2007 he moved to Budapest to train with grandmaster Alexander Chernin. In 2010 Caruana moved to Lugano, Switzerland, and, at the end of that year, started to train with grandmaster Vladimir Chuchelov.
- July: Caruana won the "First Saturday" GM tournament in Budapest with 7 points out of 9 games. He obtained his final GM norm and at age 14 years, 11 months and 20 days, became the youngest grandmaster of both the United States and Italy, surpassing the US record set by Hikaru Nakamura.
- August: Caruana played the strong Vlissingen chess tournament in the Netherlands. His last round opponent was former FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Caruana playing black, drew the game in 82 moves, and won the tournament with a performance of 2715.
- November–December: Caruana participated in the Italian Championship. The prior year he was the co-champion of Italy by tying with Michele Godena but losing the fifth rapid play-off game. This year he won with a score of +8 (9½/11) to become the youngest ever Italian champion.
- January: This was Caruana's first experience at Corus C and throughout much of the tournament he was the clear leader. His last round opponent was Parimarjan Negi, and Caruana needed ½ point to win the tournament. Caruana won the game in 61 moves and the tournament with a final score of +7 (10/13) and performance of 2696.
- April: the Ruy Lopez Festival included a seven round closed tournament, and a two-day rapid open tournament. In the seven round closed tournament, Caruana had a disappointing result of −2 (2½/7) with performance of 2513. The two-day rapid open tournament that followed was won by Caruana with a score of +6 (7½/9) followed by Michael Adams, Julio Granda Zuniga, and Dzhurabek Khamrakulov all with a score of +5 (7/9).
- June: Caruana played first board for Italy at the Mitropa Cup, which is a four-board team competition amongst 10 "middle" European nations. He scored +6 (7½/9) winning the first board prize with performance of 2810.
- August: the NH Chess Tournament "Rising Stars vs. Experienced" was played with Scheveningen format which is a double round team match of five "Rising Stars" against five "Experienced" players. Caruana played against Evgeny Bareev, Viktor Korchnoi, Artur Jussupow, Simen Agdestein, and Ljubomir Ljubojević. He scored +3 (6½/10) with performance of 2706.
- October–November: Caruana played at Eighth Cap d'Agde Rapid Chess Tournament, held in Cap d'Agde, a knock-out closed rapid tournament organized into two round robin groups of eight players each, with the top four scorers of each group proceeding to the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, and then the finals. The time control was 25 minutes with a 10-second increment. In his group, Caruana placed first with a score of +4 (5½/7) winning against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Xiangzhi Bu, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Marie Sebag, and drawing against Vassily Ivanchuk, Ivan Cheparinov, and Kateryna Lahno. Caruana's performance was 2866 and he had qualified to enter the quarter-finals. His quarter-final match, which was against Anatoly Karpov, was closely fought. Karpov won the first game, and Caruana won the second. Then tie-break games with time control of 15 minutes were played. The first four games were all drawn. The fifth game Karpov won, and Caruana was knocked out.
- November: Caruana played at 38th Olympiad, his first Olympiad. On the first board for Italy he played against Levon Aronian in the first round, Viktor Korchnoi in the fourth round, Michael Adams in the fifth round, Emanuel Berg in the seventh round, and Peter Leko in the eighth round. He lost to Aronian and Leko, and won against Adams, Korchnoi, and Berg. His final score was 7½/11 with performance of 2696.
- November–December: Caruana successfully defended his title winning the Italian Championship for the second consecutive year with a score of +5 (8/11).
- February: Having won Corus C 2008, Caruana received and accepted invitation to Corus B 2009 which was of category 16 with average Elo of 2641. Throughout the tournament his standings ranged from first to third place. Going into the last round he was tied for second and his opponent was Nigel Short who was in clear first. The game lasted 67 moves. Caruana won the game and the tournament with a score of +4 (8½/13) and performance of 2751. Caruana is the first player ever to win both Corus C and Corus B in consecutive years placing clear first in both.
- April: Caruana played in the Russian Team Championship at Sochi with the "Club 64" of Moscow, scoring 5 points out of 6; his team placed second after Tomsk.
- May: Caruana played with the Italian team in the "Mitropa Cup" at Rogaska Slatina in Slovenia, scoring 6 points out of 8 and winning the individual gold medal on first board.
- November: Caruana played in the Chess World Cup 2009 at Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia. In the first two rounds he beat the Cuban grandmasters Lázaro Bruzón and Leinier Dominguez (Elo 2719), in the third the Russian Evgeny Alekseev (Elo 2715); in round four he lost, only in the rapid games, to Vugar Gashimov (Elo 2759 and seventh in the world). This performance allowed him to reach 2675 points Elo.
- July: Caruana won the Young Grandmaster Section of Biel 2010 after a playoff with the others two leaders Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son.
- December: Caruana won the Italian Championship for the third time with a score of 9 points out of 11 games.
- December 2010 - January 2011: Caruana played in the 53rd Reggio Emilia Tournament. He placed 6th out of 10 and tied 7 out of his 9 games (only winning, again, against Nigel Short).
- January: at the Gibraltar Masters, he finished on place 5 behind Ivanchuk, Short, Külaots and Roiz.
- July: Caruana won with 7 points out of 10 at the AAI tournament in New Delhi (category 17).
- December: Caruana won the Italian National Championship for the fourth time with a score of 10 points out of 11 games. He had previously won the 2007 and 2008 national championships, and did not play the 2009 national championship due to a calendar conflict with the FIDE World Cup.
- January: at the 74th Tata Steel Chess Tournament A in Wijk aan Zee (previously known as Corus Chess) he finished on place 2 together with Magnus Carlsen and Teimour Radjabov, behind the winner Levon Aronian.
- March: at the 27th Reykjavik Open in Reykjavík, Iceland he finished first with 7½/9.
- May: he won the 20th Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament, an eight-player round-robin tournament, in Malmö, Sweden with 5½/7, half point ahead of Peter Leko.
- June: at the 7th Tal Memorial he finished second with a score of 5½/9 after tiebreak with Teimour Radjabov behind Magnus Carlsen.
- July: at the 40th Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting he won with a score of 6/9 after tiebreak with Sergey Karjakin.
- September–October: at the Grand Slam Chess Final in São Paulo and Bilbao, Caruana won 4 games, drew 5 and lost 1, tying for 1st with Magnus Carlsen, but eventually losing both blitz tiebreak games and thus ending 2nd.
- November: at the 6th Kings Tournament, organized in Bucharest by the Romanian capital chess club, Caruana ties all the games to get 3rd in a shortlist, yet strong tournament (average Elo 2747) behind Vassily Ivanchuk, winner, and Veselin Topalov, runner-up.
- February–March: Caruana won with 4 points out of 6 games the Zurich Chess Challenge.
- April: at the third stage of the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2012-2013 held in Zug, Switzerland, with 6 points out of 11 games Caruana shared third place with Ruslan Ponomariov, behind the winner, Veselin Topalov, and the runner-up, Hikaru Nakamura.
- May–June: at the fourth stage of the "FIDE Grand Prix Series 2012-2013" held in Thessaloniki, Greece, Caruana shared second place with Gata Kamsky, behind the winner, Leinier Dominguez Perez.
- June: at the eighth edition of the Tal Memorial Chess Tournament, held in Moscow, Caruana with 5 points out 9 games finished third after tiebreak with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Dmitry Andreikin, behind the winner, Boris Gelfand, and the runner-up, Magnus Carlsen.
- September–October: Caruana shared first place with Boris Gelfand with 5 points out 9 games at the sixth leg of the FIDE Grand Prix, held in Paris. In the final game against Dominguez Perez, Caruana had to win with the black pieces to hope to win the tournament solo and qualify for the Candidate's Tournament, but he repeated moves early in the opening finishing with a fast draw.
- October: Caruana won the 7th edition of the Kings Tournament in Bucharest, Romania, with 5 points out of 8 games.
- January: at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, Caruana finished fourth with 6 points out 11 games.
- January–February: at the Zurich Chess Challenge in Zurich Switzerland, Caruana won the rapid section with 4 point out of 5 games and shared second place with Levon Aronian in combined final results (classical and rapid time controls), behind the winner Magnus Carlsen.
- April: at Shamkir Chess 2014, a six-player double round-robin tournament held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, in memory of Vugar Gashimov, Caruana finished second with 5½ points out of 10 games, behind the winner Magnus Carlsen.
- June: at Norway Chess 2014, a ten-player tournament, Caruana finished fourth with 4½ points out of 9 games.
- June: at the FIDE World Rapid Championship held in Dubai, Caruana finished second with 10½ points out of 15 games, after tiebreaks with Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian and Alexander Morozevich, half point behind the winner Magnus Carlsen. With this result Caruana in July topped the FIDE rapid ranking with 2858 points. In FIDE World Blitz Championship, also held in Dubai, Caruana finished in the middle of the group, confirming some difficulties with short time control.
- July: Caruana won with 5½ points out of 7 games the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting, breaking for the first time the 2800 Elo points bar.
- August: Caruana played as first board for Italy at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway finishing with 6½ points out of 9 games.
- August - September: Caruana won with 8½ points out of 10 games the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, Missouri, one of the strongest tournaments ever held, featuring six of the world's top ten players, including the world champion Magnus Carlsen. With 7 consecutive wins from the start, 3 draws and 0 losses, Caruana achieved a performance rating of over 3080, possibly the best tournament result in history, beating out Magnus Carlsen in the 2009 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament and Anatoly Karpov in the 1994 Linares chess tournament.
- October: Caruana won along with Boris Gelfand the Baku stage of the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15, a twelve-player round-robin, with 6½ points out of 11 games. The loss at round 7 against Dmitry Andreikin ended a streak of 22 points out of 27 games and no losses started in August.
- October–November: Caruana shared the fourth place with 6 points out of 11 games at the Tashkent leg of the FIDE Grand Prix.
- December: at the 6th London Chess Classic, a six-player round-robin, he shared the last place with 4 draws and 1 loss in 5 games.
- January: at 2015 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, a 14 players round-robin, Caruana finished seventh, with 7 points out 13 games, behind the winner Magnus Carlsen.
- February: at 2015 Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden, a 8 players round-robin, Caruana shared third and fourth positions, with 4 points out 7 games, behind the winner Magnus Carlsen.
- February: at 2015 Zurich Chess Challenge, a 6 players tournament, Caruana shared second place in Blitz Section with 3½ points out 5 games, shared the last place with 2 points out of 5 games in Classical Section, finished last with 1½ points out 5 games in Rapid Section and finished fifth in Combined Final Results (Classical & Rapid TC) behind the winner Hikaru Nakamura.
- April: at Shamkir Chess 2015, a 10 players tournament, Caruana finished fourth with 5 points out of 9 games behind the winner Magnus Carlsen.
- May: Caruana won along with Hikaru Nakamura and Dmitry Jakovenko the FIDE Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk 2015, a 12 players round-robin, with 6½ points out of 11 games. With this result Caruana won the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15 and qualified for the 2016 Candidates Tournament.
- June: at Norway Chess 2015, a 10 players tournament, Caruana finished fifth with 4 points out of 9 games behind the winner Veselin Topalov.
- June–July: Caruana won the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting, an 8 player single-round robin tournament, with 5½ points out of 7 possible points, ending the tournament with a 5-game win-streak.
- August–September: Caruana finished 8th at the 2015 Sinquefield Cup with 3½ out of 9 possible points.
- September: at the Chess World Cup 2015, a 128-player single-elimination tournament, Caruana was eliminated in the fourth round by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
- December: Caruana competed in the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the London Chess Classic. He achieved 9 draws out of 9 games, (+0-0=9).
- January: At the 2016 Tata Steel Chess Tournament Caruana shared second (along with Ding Liren) with a score of 8 points out of 13 (+5-2=6), defeating Michael Adams, Wei Yi, Loek Van Wely, Pavel Eljanov, and Ding Liren, and losing to David Navara and Evgeny Tomashevsky. Had he defeated Tomashevsky, he would have at least tied for 1st place with Magnus Carlsen. Through this tournament, he gained 7 rating points and moved to #3 in the world.
- March: As part of the qualification cycle for the World Chess Championship 2016, Fabiano Caruana participated in the Candidates Tournament 2016, held in Moscow, Russia from March 10–30 in the Central Telegraph (Центральный телеграф) Building. The lineup of the tournament included Viswanathan Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Veselin Topalov, Anish Giri, and Levon Aronian. In the final round, Caruana had Black against Sergey Karjakin in a winner-takes-all game. A complex position developed in which he made a mistake and was eventually defeated, making Karjakin the official challenger. Caruana eventually finished with a +1 score.
- April: On April 25, Fabiano Caruana became US Chess Champion for the first time, after defeating IM Akshat Chandra in the last round of the US Chess Championship. He finished the tournament with 8.5 points out of 11 games, and went undefeated. The field consisted of world top ten players Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So; top 100 players Ray Robson, Sam Shankland, Gata Kamsky and Alexander Onischuk; GMs Alexander Shabalov, Varuzhan Akobian, Jeffery Xiong and Aleksandr Lenderman; and IM Akshat Chandra.
- September. Caruana played first board of the US Team at the 42nd Chess Olympiad. The US team won gold medal while Caruana won the bronze medal for first board.
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As a youth, Caruana had an aggressive style of play. In his own words, "I preferred to attack all the time and really loved sacrificing pieces to get at the enemy king. I played like that for quite a long time, but when I moved up it turned out that you can far from always win with a direct attack... I had to become universal, to learn to manoeuvre and defend and so on." Caruana's playing style is now universal, based on excellent opening preparation and good calculation: "I wouldn't assess it in such categories [tactical or strategic]. It seems to me I'm a good fighter. I enjoy playing different types of position, both tactical and strategic. I can't say there's anything I avoid. I can attack on a board full of pieces or manoeuvre in a roughly even position, and I've got nothing against the endgame".
Caruana is known as a hard working player, once saying: "Hundreds of games are played each day all around the world, and a lot of them are important. They're all available online, but you have to put in the time to look at them all. And you need to analyze, find new trends, keep trying to find new ideas to use against specific opponents". Talking about Magnus Carlsen's play, Caruana hinted at his deep knowledge of opponent's strengths and weaknesses: "In some positions you can't compete with him. Certain pawn structures he just plays like a machine. There are certain openings where I say, ‘I just can't do that.’ But OK, certain positions he's not as comfortable with. Just like any player, he can also play unconfidently."
Federations and national championships
National Chess Federation membership
- Caruana is a "Benefactor" Life Member of the United States Chess Federation (USCF), and has been a member of the federation since the age of 5 in 1998.
National Chess Federation ranking
- United States Chess Federation: second highest ranked player
- Italy – Caruana won the Italian National Championship in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He did not play the championship in 2009 and 2012-2014.
- United States – Caruana won the U.S. Chess Championship in 2016, in his first participation.
World Chess Federation (FIDE) affiliation
Caruana possesses dual citizenship of both Italy and the United States, so he has the option of FIDE affiliation with either the Italian Chess Federation or the United States Chess Federation.
Caruana played for Italy from 2005 to 2015. On May 12, 2015 the USCF announced that he would be changing federations, to play for the USA.
Head-to-head record versus selected grandmasters
(Rapid, blitz and blindfold games not included; listed as +wins −losses =draws as of December 21, 2016.)
Players who have been undisputed World Champions in boldface
- Michael Adams +4−6=6
- Viswanathan Anand +3−1=19
- Dmitry Andreikin +1−1=3
- Levon Aronian +4−6=11
- Etienne Bacrot +2−1=2
- Lazaro Bruzon +1−0=2
- Magnus Carlsen +5−8=11
- Ding Liren +2−0=1
- Leinier Dominguez +2−2=6
- Pavel Eljanov +4−1=1
- Boris Gelfand +6−2=7
- Anish Giri +3−2=19
- Alexander Grischuk +2−3=7
- Hou Yifan +6−0=6
- Vassily Ivanchuk +4−4=6
- Dmitry Jakovenko +2−1=3
- Baadur Jobava +3−0=5
- Gata Kamsky +3−0=3
- Sergey Karjakin +4−2=21
- Rustam Kasimdzhanov +1−0=6
- Vladimir Kramnik +4−2=10
- Peter Leko +0−3=7
- Shakhriyar Mamedyarov +3−3=8
- Alexander Morozevich +5−4=4
- Arkadij Naiditsch +3−2=4
- Hikaru Nakamura +4−6=22
- David Navara +1−3=4
- Ian Nepomniachtchi +0−0=3
- Ruslan Ponomariov +2−2=4
- Teimour Radjabov +4−0=8
- Richard Rapport +2−0=1
- Krishnan Sasikiran +2−1=1
- Alexei Shirov +1−3=1
- Nigel Short +2−0=1
- Sanan Sjugirov +0−1=1
- Wesley So +2−2=9
- Peter Svidler +4−1=15
- Evgeny Tomashevsky +4−1=2
- Veselin Topalov +6−2=9
- Maxime Vachier-Lagrave +3−4=13
- Loek van Wely +3−2=5
- Wang Hao +0−5=3
- Wei Yi +1−0=0
- Radoslaw Wojtaszek +0−1=0
- Fabiano Caruana – Emanuel Berg, Dresden Olympiads 2008, French Defence C08
- Fabiano Caruana – Francisco Vallejo-Pons, Pamplona 2008, Sicilian Najdorf B90
- Artur Yusupov – Fabiano Caruana, NH Chess tournament 2008, Slav Defence D10
- Michael Adams – Fabiano Caruana, Dresden Olympiads 2008, French Defence C03
- Sergey Karjakin – Fabiano Caruana, São Paulo / Bilbao Grand Slam Final 2012, Ruy Lopez C78
- Fabiano Caruana – Levon Aronian, St. Louis, Missouri / Sinquefield Cup 2014, Ruy Lopez C78