Teens on the move
By ANDY SOLTIS
Last Updated: 7:07 PM, March 3, 2012
Nations used to develop chess talent the way Major League Baseball teams nurture future stars.
The Soviet Union dominated chess for decades because it had the world’s biggest, best-financed farm system. And in the bad old days, Soviet grandmasters couldn’t change teams.
But today, teenage stars are free agents. The world chess federation’s latest list of the top-rated juniors, issued this week, was topped by Fabiano Caruana, 19, who was born in Miami, grew up in Park Slope, moved at 12 to Madrid, then Budapest — and now lives in Switzerland and plays under the flag of Italy.
Second on the top-junior list is 17-year-old Anish Giri. He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but his family moved to the Netherlands four years ago.
One of his first coaches, Asya Kovalyova, said the Russian chess federation gave grants to other talented juniors but left Giri out. “Perhaps they were more interested in Muscovites,” she said in an interview with the Web site online812. “But they didn’t help someone who really needed it.” As soon as he arrived in Holland, he was greeted as a star, she said.
Less known than Caruana and Giri is Anton Kovalyov, 19, who was born in Ukraine, moved to Argentina and now lives in Canada, where he has the highest rating in the country.
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Giri is good but he’s no match for the great Nakamura.