The chess world has been whispering about it for some time and John Stewart predicted it: the United States Chess Federation (USCF) is scooping up some of the best international chess talent out there. The dual Italian-American citizen Fabiano Caruana, who famously went on a 7-game winning streak in the 2014 Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, has officially started the application process to change from the Italian Chess Federation to the UCSF! From the United States Chess Federation’s official press release:

SAINT LOUIS (May 12, 2015)The United States Chess Federation (USCF) today announced that Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana has initiated the application process to change chess federations, which, when approved, will allow him to play for the United States. Fabiano, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Italy, has been playing for the Italian Chess Federation for a number of years.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be representing the United States again and working with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Id like to thank everybody who has made this possible, and I look forward to this exciting new partnership,” said Fabiano Caruana.”In addition, I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude for the support given to me over the past ten years by the Italian Chess Federation. I wish them all the best for the future.”

When complete, this change will unite Fabiano Caruana, who is ranked third in the world, with Hikaru Nakamura, the world’s fourth ranked player and Wesley So who is ninth, under the United States flag.

“The addition of Fabiano Caruana to the United States’ roster is historic. For the first time in history the United States will have three of the top ten players in world ” said Jean Hoffman, Executive Director of the USCF, “Over the past several years, we have made tremendous strides to increase the awareness of, and appreciation for, the great game of chess in the United States. The return of Fabiano to the USCF is another large step toward achieving our goals.”

Caruana hopes to compete in his first tournament as a United States player on the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour at the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Grand Chess Tour is a circuit of international events for the world’s best players. The 2015 Tour was created in partnership between the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (Sinquefield Cup), Tower AS (Norway Chess 2015) and Chess Promotions, Ltd. (London Chess Classic).

Personally, I am very excited about this move! US Chess has suffered in the doldrums for decades and young players like Fabiano have the ability to inspire a new generation to sit down at the board. It will be interesting to see the reaction from the Italian Chess Federation and others since Fabiano has represented Italy for such a long time. ChessBase makes note that given the setup with Fabiano now under the stars and stripes, a USA Olympic Chess Team would consist of:

Name Rating World Rank World Rank
Fabiano Caruana 2803 3 22
Hikaru Nakamura 2799 4 27
Wesley So 2778 9 21
Ray Robson 2674 64 20
Gata Kamsky 2673 65 40

As much as I like Gata Kamsky and his style of play, I was happy to see Hikaru pull off the win this year in Saint Louis and I think that by having Fabiano on the circuit in the United States will add some additional prestige to the event. Welcome home, Fabiano, let’s get to work!