The inside story of Fabiano Caruana

The inside story of Fabiano Caruana

IM vinniethepooh

One of the greatest duels in chess history is going to take place very soon. In a week, Fabiano Caruana will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship title, and there cannot be a better time to look at his chess career so far.

From a young gun to a legend-it's all there! Sit back and enjoy as you go through the life of a tremendously talented and hard-working chess player.

Recognized as an early talent: "He's No Pawn in the Game"

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A youngster from Brooklyn, USA was making strides at the tender age of 8, already being termed as a future Bobby Fischer.

The potential could already be seen- he had that attribute, that attribute of mental toughness in chess- not a game for the faint-hearted.

Fabiano Caruana was born on 30th July, 1992 in Miami, Florida, USA. At the age of 5, he took up chess and the talent was immediately visible to the parents Louis and Santina, who started making him play tournaments.

One of the earliest articles which gave notice to his special talent, you can read here:

Prodigy Alert! 2060 beats 2683

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At the age of 10, Caruana made headlines by beating the strong grandmaster Wojtkiewicz, Alexsander who was rated 2683 in opposition to Fabiano's 2060. A mismatch of sorts? No.

Check out the game:

"From a decent, talented kid, to a strong grandmaster"- The transfer to Italy


When Fabiano was 12 years old, he and his family moved to Italy, Europe. Evidently, this was a huge turning point in his life- he explains:

"The idea was to pursue chess professionally, and that's what I did. I started working pretty much all day, working with coaches in Spain and Hungary and Switzerland. We traveled Europe for about 10 years, and I, pretty much, played chess non-stop. I would play 100 games an year or something, for 10 years. And I went from a decent, talented kid level, to pretty much a strong Grandmaster level by the time I came back."

Fabiano got the grandmaster title at 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days, a record for USA and Italy at the time.

Here I present to you one game which is typical from his style in his youth. He was a feared attacking player at that time.

Breakthrough Event- Vlissingen Open 2007

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Just a month after Caruana became a GM, he participated in a strong Vlissingen Open where a number of international grandmasters participated. Ahead of some really great players, Fabiano sprinted forward to take the title.

Of note was his splendid effort to hold against Former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov:

Winning Tata Steel

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In 2008, Caruana took part in the Wijk Aan Zee Category C tournament, and won it convincingly with 10/13 beating Parimanjan Negi in the final round.

This got him the invitation to 2009 Wijk Aan Zee Category B tournament in 2009, which had an average elo of 2641.

Caruana played consistently there as well, and before the final round he was on 7.5/12, tied in second place, behind Nigel Short in clear first place. He got paired with him though, and found enough inspiration to win on the way to the title.

By this time, the feared youngster from Brooklyn was slowly transforming into the elite club, and it was no doubt he was already transcending into a league of his own.

Among the top players

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By 2012, he was already among the strongest players at the time. He tied for second in Wijk Aan Zee A behind Levon Aronian. By this time, his style was already much more universal- look at the following game:

Later, he took part at the 7th Tal Memorial where he finished second behind Magnus Carlsen. He also kept doing well in 2013 but there were not any major successes/ supertournament victories.

Shattering all records

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Fabiano ran through all existing records in Sinquenfield Cup 2014. He was already a top 10 player by this time, but not "that" player which will catch your attention.

Only after this tournament was he seriously considered World Champion Material. In a record sequence, Caruana's earth shattering performance of 7/7 shocked the whole chess world. In such a strong field, he had a 3000+ rating performance, which shot him up to a personal best of 2844.

It consisted of all the top players the world had to offer, but his games made an inhumane impression. "He is not making a mistake".

All of his games were excellent, but I want to highlight this flawless game he played with Black against the World Champion:

Gathering experience


In 2015, Caruana transferred back to USA. Fabiano qualified for the 2016 Candidates tournament after winning the FIDE Grand Prix 2014-2015. He later participated in the World Cup but was eliminated in the fourth round by Shakriyar Mamedyarov.

In 2016 he shared second in Wijk Aan Zee A behind Magnus Carlsen, even though the result could have been much better.

So near yet so far

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Before the 2016 Candidates, Fabiano was already being termed as the most worthy challenger to Magnus Carlsen. He was doing well, getting the lead, losing the lead, back and forth, before finally clashing against Sergey Karjakin in a death match in the final round.

The player who would win that match would win the tournament, and the right to being the challenger. But as luck would have it, Caruana lost.

He played excellent chess throughout the event. Here is one game: 

A slump in form ensued in 2017, as Caruana lost quite a lot of rating points. But he was a champion, and would strike back soon enough.

A dream year

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In March 2018, Caruana played his second Candidates tournament. This time, he did not let it slip though and won with a thumping score of 9/14, with that winning the right to a World Championship match.

A few days after, he won Grenke Chess Classic ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen, with a score of 6.5/9. These results catapulted him to the no.2 ranking on the FIDE rating list.

But that was just the start of his victories in 2018. He came 2nd at the US championship behind Sam Shankland, and then came clear first in Norway Chess.

He also shared the title with Carlsen and Aronian in the Sinquenfield Cup, and qualified for the next Grand Chess Tour leg by beating Wesley So in 4th place playoffs. USA came second on tiebreaks in the Olympiad.

It's been a wonderful year for him.

And if he can take it to its logical conclusion by making the final step, winning the World Championship which starts in a week- his name will forever be posted on the doors of chess history.

Fabiano Caruana has transformed from a prodigious talent into a colossus of chess ability- and the chess world is thankful for it.