The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana
Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Full name
Fabiano Luigi Caruana
Jul 30, 1992 (age 31)‎
Place of birth
Miami, Florida, USA
United States



The prodigy who broke the record held by GM Hikaru Nakamura for America's youngest chess grandmaster, Fabiano Caruana, has climbed the mountain of chess and reached the summit. This grandmaster has had a ranking as high as number-two in the world and has won numerous tournaments in his career. In 2018 the American faced GM Magnus Carlsen at the World Chess Championship in London in 2018, losing in the tiebreak playoffs. He is also a three-time U.S. chess champion (2016, 2022, 2023).

    Early Childhood

    Caruana was born on July 30, 1992, in Miami, Florida. His natural grasp for chess was discovered at the age of five in an after-school chess program when he moved to New York. His first chess coach was National Master Bruce Pandolfini, a well-known chess author. Caruana later was coached by GMs Miron Sher and Alexander Chernin.

    He became a FIDE master in 2002 and an international master in 2006. A year later, at the age of 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days, Caruana became the youngest grandmaster in the United States and Italy. Shortly after earning the grandmaster title, he won the Italian Chess Championship, becoming the youngest ever Italian champion.

    Teenage Years

    The Italian grandmaster kicked off 2008 by winning the Tata Steel Group C section, earning him a spot in 2009's Group B event. Caruana then made his Olympiad debut in the same year, representing Italy on the top board in the Dresden Olympiad. After a 7.5/11 finish, Caruana then won the Italian Championship again, earning back-to-back titles. He finished the year entering the world's top-100 players in October with a rating of 2640.

    In 2009 Caruana won the Tata Steel Group B after beating English grandmaster Nigel Short in the final round. After strong performances in both the Russian Team Championships and the Mitropa Cup, Caruana was nominated to play in the 2009 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, where he beat GMs Lazaro Bruzon, Leinier Dominguez, and Evgeny Alekseev before losing to GM Vugar Gashimov.

    After missing the 2009 Italian Chess Championships to compete in the FIDE World Cup, Caruana won the event twice more in 2010 and 2011, his fourth and final time winning the Italian Championship. By the end of 2011, Caruana had jumped in the world rankings, reaching number 17 in the live rankings and a rating well over 2700.

    Rise To The World's Top 10

    In 2012 Caruana continued to improve. After a second-place tie in the A section of the Tata Steel Tournament, Caruana went on a streak, winning first in the Reykjavik Open, Sigeman and Co. Chess Tournament, and the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting. In the same year, Caruana also finished second in both the Tal Memorial and the Grand Slam Chess Final. By January 2013, Caruana was ranked fifth in the world rankings with a rating of 2781.

    Caruana spent much of 2013 trying to qualify for the 2014 Candidates tournament through the FIDE Grand Prix. After placing third in Zug, second in Thessaloniki, and winning the circuit in Paris, Caruana had amassed 380 points, narrowly missing an automatic qualification to the Candidates.

    In 2014 Caruana finished second in both Shamkir Chess and Norway Chess, behind Carlsen in each event.

    Caruana at the Shamkir Chess Tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    His most memorable win of 2014 came against Ukrainian GM Ruslan Ponomariov in the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting, a tournament Caruana ultimately won:

    Caruana won a silver medal in the World Rapid Championships in Dubai, just a half-point behind first place. He then represented Italy on the first board once again at the 2014 Olympiad in Tromso, Norway.

    Upon the conclusion of the Olympiad, Caruana then returned to the United States, where he won the Sinquefield Cup with a memorable seven-game winning streak.

    Caruana Sinquefield Chess Cup 2017
    Caruana was even surprised himself with the amazing winning streak. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    With a performance rating of 3080, Caruana arguably had the best tournament performance in chess history, beating Nakamura, GM Levon Aronian, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (twice), GM Veselin Topalov (twice), and most notably, World Champion Carlsen. Each player in the double round-robin was ranked in the world top-ten prior to the tournament, and the 8.5/10 final result saw Caruana's rating reach 2844, his personal best rating. At the conclusion of the event, Caruana was the second-highest rated player in the world, a position he has often held since.

    The 2016 Candidates Tournament

    After a historic performance at the Sinquefield Cup, Caruana returned to the FIDE Grand Prix, determined to qualify for the Candidates tournament in 2016. In October 2014, Caruana tied for first with GM Boris Gelfand in the opening leg in Baku, Azerbaijan. To close the year, Caruana tied for fourth in Tashkent.

    In May 2015, Caruana tied for first in Khanty-Mansisyk alongside Nakamura and GM Dmitry Jakovenko, the final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix. The tournament win meant that Caruana won clear first in the 2014-2015 FIDE Grand Prix and thus earned an automatic qualification for the 2016 Candidates tournament.

    Caruana Fide Grand Prix 2014-2015
    Caruana showing his GP trophy (and a smaller copy of it). Photo: Kirill Merkurev.

    Now qualified for the Candidates tournament, Caruana used his dual citizenship to switch back to the American federation. When he joined the American team, Caruana joined Nakamura and GM Wesley So, with the hopes of winning an Olympiad for the United States.

    In the same year, Caruana won clear first in the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting and reached the fourth round of the FIDE World Cup in Baku, eliminating both GM Rauf Mamedov and GM Anton Kovalyov before falling short against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

    Caruana started the year 2016 by taking second at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, finishing just a point behind Carlsen. The 23-year-old entered the Candidates tournament as the third-best player in the world.

    The 2016 Candidates tournament was held in Moscow, and alongside Caruana, featured the world's best players: GM Viswanathan Anand, GM Sergey Karjakin, GM Peter Svidler, Nakamura, Topalov, GM Anish Giri, and Aronian. Needing to win the Candidates to clinch a match with Carlsen in the World Chess Championship, Caruana headed into the final round tied for first with his opponent, Karjakin. Despite the level score, the Candidates tiebreaker (most wins) meant that Caruana had to play for a win with Black in order to win the tournament, as a draw would favor Karjakin. The Russian grandmaster ultimately beat Caruana and became the official challenger for the 2016 World Chess Championship.

    Preparation For The 2018 World Chess Championship

    Despite falling short in the Candidates tournament, 2016 turned still out to be a great year for Caruana. He won his first-ever U.S. Chess Championship and returned to Baku to help the United States win its first Olympiad gold medal since 1976. The Americans edged out the Ukrainians on tiebreaks, and Caruana won an individual bronze medal for this performance on the first board.

    Fabiano Caruana Chess Olympiad
    Fabiano Caruana helped his team win the gold at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    With his second-place finish in the London Chess Classic, Caruana finished third in the 2016 Grand Chess Tour.

    In 2017 Caruana won his first Speed Chess Championship match against four-time Women's World Champion, GM Hou Yifan, 19-9.

    The American grandmaster played for the Montreal Chessbrahs in the inaugural year of the Pro Chess League. Caruana helped the team win the Atlantic Division, but the Chessbrahs were eliminated in the semifinals by the Saint Louis Arch Bishops.

    Caruana nearly ensured qualification to the 2018 Candidates Tournament by rating when he beat GM Vladimir Kramnik in the first round of the 2017 Isle Of Man International.

    Caruana Isle of Man Chess 2017
    Fabiano Caruana defeated Kramnik in the first round of the Isle of Man 2017. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    When Kramnik was later announced as the 2018 Candidates wild card, both Caruana and So qualified to the Candidates tournament by rating.

    To finish the year, Caruana won the London Chess Classic after beating GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in a blitz tiebreak match.

    Caruana London Chess Classic 2017
    Caruana won the 2017 London Chess Classic and finished fifth in the 2017 Grand Chess Tour. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    Now in his second Candidates Tournament, Caruana made the most of his opportunity in Berlin. After losing a game late to Karjakin, Caruana beat both Aronian and GM Alexander Grischuk in the final two rounds to secure his berth into the 2018 World Chess Championship against Carlsen.

    Caruana was very happy after being able to qualify to the World Chess Championship 2018 against Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    Following his Candidates tournament win, Caruana had an impressive string of results. The American won both the Grenke Chess Classic and Norway Chess, finishing ahead of Carlsen in both events.

    Caruana - So Norway Chess
    Caruana made an impressive performance in the Norway Chess Tournament, finishing ahead of Carlsen with 5/8 points. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    Caruana placed second in the 2018 US Chess Championship and tied for first in the Sinquefield Cup (with Carlsen and Aronian). In jointly winning the Sinquefield Cup, Caruana played a tiebreak match with So for the final spot in the London Chess Classic, which he won 1.5-0.5.

    Prior to the World Championship Match in London, Caruana would lead the United States to a silver medal in the Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.

    He also participated in the 2018 Speed Chess Championship but was eliminated in the first round by Aronian.

    After years of hard work to win the Candidates Tournament, Caruana finally got his chance to play Carlsen in the World Chess Championship.

    Fabiano Caruana World Chess Championship Challenger
    Thanks to winning the Candidates tournament, Caruana won the right to challenge Carlsen, the world chess champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    The match famously saw each of the twelve games end in draws, and Carlsen claimed the tiebreak by winning each of the three rapid games.

    Post-World Championship Performances

    A month later, Caruana won third place in the London Chess Classic after beating Aronian in the third-place match. The result also meant that Caruana finished third overall in the Grand Chess Tour.

    In the 2019 PRO Chess League Season, Caruana played for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in the Atlantic Division, guiding the team to another appearance in the PRO Chess League live semifinals in San Francisco.

    Pro Chess League 2019
    Fabiano Caruana competed with the Saint Louis Arch Bishops in the 2019 Pro Chess League.

    Caruana started 2020 with a bang by winning his first Tata Steel Tournament. He won the tournament with a round to spare, ahead of Carlsen, So, Anand, GM Alireza Firouzja, Giri, and other world-class players. 

    Caruana was automatically placed in the 2020 Candidates tournament because he was the challenger in the 2018 cycle. He was considered a favorite heading into the tournament as the highest-rated player in the event. On March 26, 2020, the Candidates tournament was postponed due to Russia's travel restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the halfway point, Caruana was at 3.5/7 and trailing Vachier-Lagrave and Nepomniachtchi by one point. 

    In May 2020 Caruana made it to the final of the Clutch Chess Champions Showdown after convincingly defeating Dominguez 15-3 in the first round. In the final, Caruana went 9-9 against So, who won on tiebreaks.

    Caruana had a solid 4/7 score in the second half of the 2020-2021 Candidates tournament, which resumed in April 2021. His 7.5/14 performance was strong enough to share third-fourth places (fourth on tiebreaks) alongside GM Anish Giri, but not enough to catch the winner Nepomniachtchi.

    Caruana qualified for his fourth straight Candidates Tournament in June-July 2022 by finishing second at the 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss in October-November. Despite a strong start at the Candidates, Caruana eventually finished in fifth place.

    Fabiano Caruana 2021 Grand Swiss
    Caruana at the conclusion of the 2021 Grand Swiss, where he qualified for another Candidates. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

    In October 2022, Caruana won his second U.S. Championship and his first since 2016. He scored 8.5/13 with four wins and nine draws, outscoring GM Ray Robson by half a point.

    In May 2023, Caruana won the Superbet Classic in Romania, jumping out to a lead in the 2023 Grand Chess Tour.

    At the 2023 FIDE World Cup, Caruana finished in third place and officially qualified for his fifth consecutive Candidates Tournament, the longest active streak. Unfortunately for Caruana, his score of 8.5/14 was not enough to win, after he was unable to force a playoff despite obtaining a winning position in the final round against Nepomniachtchi.

    In October of 2023, he won his second consecutive U.S. Championship, doing so by 1.5 points with an 8/11 score. The next month, he won both the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz and the Sinquefield Cup, winning the Grand Chess Tour with the most points in tour history.

    Caruana has also increased his media presence in recent years. He had a breakout stint as a commentator for the 2021 FIDE World Championship and recently began a popular podcast with his longtime second, GM Cristian Chirila.

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