Fabiano Caruana threatening to overtake Magnus Carlsen as world No1
The Guardian, Friday 26 September 2014 12.57 EDT
…the real phenomenon in Bilbao was again Fabiano Caruana. Italy’s world No2 progresses from one tournament to another with hardly a break. He flew to Bilbao straight from his triumph at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, totalled 5/6 and was hungry enough in the final round to take the world No7, Sergey Karjakin, to more than 100 moves.
At the end of July Caruana, aged 22, was a mammoth 80 rating points behind Magnus Carlsen as the world champion sat unchallenged on Olympus. Then Carlsen had an indifferent Olympiad and Caruana’s stunning 8.5/10 victory at St Louis, including a win against the Norwegian, reduced the ratings gap to 27 points. After Bilbao it is down to 19.
And that is not the end of it. For the next month Carlsen will be secluded with his coaches, preparing for his troubled world title rematch with India’s Vishy Anand which opens at the Winter Olympics village in Sochi on 7 November.
Caruana? He will be playing yet again, in two of the four tournaments which make up the Fide Grand Prix. He will be at Baku from 1-15 October, followed by Tashkent (20 October to 3 November). Both are very strong, with most of his rivals ranked in the world top 20.
This means that, if Caruana plays as well as he did in St Louis and Bilbao, he could capture Carlsen’s No1 ranking before the world champion pushes a pawn in Sochi. Carlsen once said that being No1 meant more to him that the world crown, so this would be a major psychological blow at a moment when he is struggling to regain his best form.
Caruana’s style is predominantly Capablancan, strategically lucid and free from serious errors. But he has a work ethic which the Cuban lacked, and wins games by deeply researched novelties. He can also change his style and start a chessboard brawl, as he did in his final round game at Bilbao when he needed a win with Black.
Caruana has dual nationality, American and Italian. As a child in New York he was taught by US coaches until he was 12 and decided he wanted to be a professional. His supportive parents moved to Europe where there were more tournaments, and he now lives in Switzerland and Spain.
Italy is not a strong chess nation. At Bilbao he was asked if he would consider returning to the US and replied “I can’t discuss if anything is going on. It’s private”. Such an equivocal answer suggests that the billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has transformed St Louis into a global chess centre, is trying to persuade Caruana to follow the 20-year-old Filipino world No15, Wesley So, who has switched to the US and studies at St Louis. With Caruana, So and the world No9, Hikaru Nakamura, the US would become a major contender for world and Olympiad team gold medals.
Full article here.