Fabiano Caruana Joins American Team

Fabiano Caruana, ranking 3rd in worldwide standings, leaves the Italian National Chess Team after ten year and will return to the United States Chess Federation (USCF), as the organization declared in a press conference last week.

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Background Information

Fabiano CaruanaFabiano Caruana was born in Miami in 1992 and grew up in New York, his mother being Italian and his father also having Italian roots. At the age of five, he began playing chess and was member of the United States Chess Federation until thirteen years old. In October 2005, Caruana joined the Italian Chess Federation after he and his family had moved back to Europa to enhance his career opportunities. The United States weren’t particularly successful in the chess scene at that time – only six Americans ranked among the Top 85 of the world. To help their son obtain better training and to enhance the chances of successful and relevant tournament participation, his parents decided for their son to represent Italy on the international stage. Saying their plans added up, would simply be an understatement. On the other side of the big pond, Caruana exceeded all expectations and ascended to the absolute top of the world of chess.

Caruana holds dual citizenship – meaning he is Italian and American citizen at the same time. Until today, he pays taxes in the United States and speaks English flawlessly.

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The Change

The USCF has fought for Caruana’s attention for years and repeatedly invited him to participate in US championships. His decision and statements were still a surprise to many, although he had always shown his loyalty towards Italy which graciously supported him for an entire decade. Only half a year ago, Caruana answered the question of whether he planned to join a US chess team again as follows: “No, I do not have such plans at this point. However, I don’t know what the future holds.”

The Italian Chess Federation’s spokesman responded to the rumors of Caruana changing teams a while back: “America offered him 100,000 EUR per year, Azerbaijan even 400,000 EUR. I would love for him to make that amount of money with playing chess, but frankly, these offers were unsuccessful. Caruana signed a contract with the Italian Chess Federation over 80,000 EUR per annum in January and will stay with us until December.”

According to rumors, Caruana was offered a contract by St. Louis over six years and 200,000 EUR, which at first he distanced himself from by calling them speculations, but recently he admitted to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis playing a major role in his change:

“I am looking forward to representing the United States again and to working with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. I would like to thank everybody who made this possible and am excited for this new partnership. Also, I would like to use the occasion and express my appreciation and gratefulness for the support that the Italian Chess Federation has provided me with during the last ten years. I wish them all the best.”

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An Outlook

The Americans have put quite some effort into their establishment in the world’s chess elite in the recent past. Their endeavors are now rewarded with success. Jean Hoffmann, Executive Director of USCF, announced:

“For the first time in history, the United States have three players in the Top 10: The world’s third, Fabiano Caruana, its fourth, Hikaru Nakamura, and its ninth, Wesley So.”

Measured by their ELO-ratings (2745.4) the US national team is now second best team in the world, behind Russia (2759.4). The first meaningful international tournament at which Caruana will represent the United States are the Chess Olympics in Baku next year.

And of course, there is this thing with the World Championship title. If Caruana were to win the world championship next year, he’d be the first American player since Bobby Fischer to accomplish this milestone.

Caruana answered the question whether he would feel like an American or Italian world champion in case he would actually win the title diplomatically:

“Why can’t I be both at the same time? I consider myself an American, as I was born in the States and grew up there. At the same time, I am Italian, because my Mother is Italian and the ancestors on my father’s side of the family were also Italian.”

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe