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Tag: Fabiano Caruana

US Chess Championships Begin Today!

Grab your laptop, tablet, and your favorite chess app, program, or board and get ready to follow the exciting showdown in Saint Louis: the 2017 US Chess Championships!

Reigning Champions GM Fabiano Caruana and Nazi Paikidze-Barnes will be fighting to retain their titles against the best that the country has to offer on the board. All games are played at 1300 CDT (GMT -5) and will be broadcast on Chess24, ChessBomb, and ChessBase.

Also, I recommend trying out the Watch Chess app available on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. I wrote a review about it awhile back and it has been a great companion for watching chess when stuck in a meeting or in another place where its not practical to bring up a browser-based website.

Tournament Breakdown

  • March 29 – April 2: Rounds 1-5 (1300 CDT)
  • April 3: Rest Day
  • April 4 – April 9: Rounds 6-11 (1300 CDT)
  • April 10 – Playoff (if necessary) (1300 CDT)
  • April 10 – Closing Ceremony (1830 CDT)

Read more on the official website and follow all of the late breaking information on the US Chess Federation website.

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US Chess Championship Set for March 29

Grab your popcorn and laptops, campers, because the United States Chess Championship is set to begin in just over two weeks time! The tournament will be hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for the eighth year and it promises to be another exciting tournament for chess players and fans alike!

This year, newly nationalized American Champion Fabiano Caruana and America’s sweetheart Nazi Paikidze-Barnes will defend their titles against the top talents from US Chess. The prize fund this year is $194,000 with players arriving on March 27-28, Opening Ceremonies on March 28, and Round 1 beginning on March 28. As usual there are plenty of places to catch the action. Fans can view the matches live on ChessBomb, ChessBase, Chess24, and Chess.com.

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Susan Polgar, the Times, and Hired Help

As I wrote a few days ago, the United States claimed victory in a Chess Olympiad for the first time since 1976. Shortly thereafter, World Champion Magnus Carlsen posted a sarcastic tweet in which he openly wondered if Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana were still for sale. Because I am a huge baseball fan and have often wondered about the merits of a free agency system in professional chess, I took the tweet at face value and dismissed it as nothing more than a sarcastic way of Magnus congratulating the US team. Unfortunately, in most cases, in chess not everything is as it seems.

Grandmaster Susan Polgar took exception with claims of “hired help” on the United States Chess Team.

I commend Susan for addressing the claims because although she took some subsequent heat on Twitter for her comment, the assertions about hired help were not limited to Magnus Carlsen. The New York Times, which seems to pride itself on being at the forefront of racial and social divides in America, boldly proclaimed that the United States team won with the help of imported talent.

The New York Times preferred to emphasize imported talent over national victory.

What is lost on me is the almost relentless focus by the media on the ethic origins of the players on this team and participants in countless other activities including books, music, and movies for that matter. Does it make a difference that Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana are recent additions to the United States Chess Federation dossier? The article mentions that it is unusual for players to change federations, but is it any more unusual for a person to change their citizenship? Wesley So trained under Susan Polgar at Webster University and was integral to their team before dropping out of school to pursue chess full-time. Fabiano Caruana has played for the Italian Chess Federation for years, but is actually an American citizen who was born and raised in Florida.

A Nation of Immigrants

What gets lost in these arguments and what I think really got Susan Polgar’s blood boiling seems to be that the media forgets that 99.9% of the people who live in the United States of America are the product of immigration. My family is of German descent, but does that disqualify me from representing the United States in an official capacity? Of course not, just as switching from the Philippines to US Chess does not disqualify Wesley So from representing the United States at the Baku Olympiad.

Ultimately, these are the things that make America such a unique place. America is a country where people from all backgrounds, of every ethnicity, and of all life experiences can stand on a podium and wear a gold medal as a representative of their country. These men were not hired help or imported talent. Instead, they represent the very core of what America stands for. Asserting anything else devalues that.

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Baku Chess Olympiad is Underway!

It seems like such a short time ago when chess headlines were adorned with stories of the Tromsø Chess Olympiad in 2014 where visa challenges, bathrooms, and high food prices were among the hottest topics leading up to China’s triumphant victory in the event. But here we are looking down the barrels of the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, the home country of former World Champion Garry Kasparov.

After a breathtaking opening ceremony on Thursday, main tournament play began Friday with my beloved United States team winning all 4 of their first matches against players from Andorra. Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Sam Shankland, and Ray Robson each scored well-earned victory against their opponents to launch the team off to a powerful start in the Olympiad.

US Champion Fabiano Caruana is leading the US Olympiad Team

In the second round, Sam Shankland was the only member of the United States team to not earn a win in the round against Scotland. Caruana, Nakamura, and Robson all earned wins and although it is still early in the event, I would say that the United States team is going to be a team to watch throughout the tournament!

The National Gymnastics Arena – the Baku Olympiad venue.

This year’s Olympiad is being held in the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan. The country has increasingly positioned itself throughout the past few years as a place of intense international sport and competition. Known to the chess community as the birth home of Garry Kasparov, the 42d Chess Olympiad’s host nation continues to impress both players and fans alike.

Watch the Baku Chess Olympiad live on Chessbomb, Chess.com, and Chess24.

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2016 Sinquefield Cup: So Wins It All 

The Sinquefield Cup is always an amazing event and has come to solidify its place as one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world. Every year, the best chess players from around the world converge on the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to compete in the round robin tournament. The Sinquefield Cup is also memorable for Fabiano Caruana’s incredible run in 2014, which I built a commemorative wall piece to celebrate the tournament. After some scheduling changes due to the upcoming Baku Olympian, this year’s event included Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Vishy Anand, Peter Svidler, and wildcard Ding Liren.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen opted out of this year’s event so that he could focus on the upcoming World Chess Championship in New York.

After some thrilling games between the world’s elite players it was Wesley So, the former Webster University prodigy, who took a commanding lead early in the tournament and cruised to a solid victory with 5.5/9 pts. The Sinquefield Cup is part of the second Grand Chess Tour, which aims to promote professional chess around the world. The Grandmasters featured in the Sinquefield Cup are regular participants in the tour. For details and photos from the Sinquefield Cup, check out the detailed analysis on Chessbase.

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Caruana and Paikidze are 2016 US Chess Champions!

GM Hikaru Nakmura and GM Irina Krush entered into the 2016 US Chess Championship carrying the same hopes and dreams of their competition but with much more at stake: the defense of their 2015 championship titles. Nakamura, who is a mainstay on my beloved Chess.com, has won the US Chess Championship in 2005, 2009, 2012 and in 2015. Krush began the 2016 event looking for her fifth consecutive win, but was stopped short by US #2, GM Nazi Paikidze.

Coming Back to America

Just a few short years ago, I would have considered it insanity to believe that GM Fabiano Caruana would be a member of the US Chess Federation and go from playing for the Italian Chess Federation to winning the 2016 US Chess Championship. Yet, that very thing happened yesterday when Caruana edged out his opponents with a win against IM Akshat Chandra, who is widely known for his monumental propulsion into the stratosphere of chess ability. Chandra, who is considered to be one of the brightest rising stars in chess, finished the tournament in last place with 1.5/11, scoring draws against Jeffery Xiong, Alexander Shabalov, and Nakamura.

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Caruana owned a slight edge over his opponents entering in to the final round, but showed impeccable drive and determination to win the final round despite being given the black pieces. After his victory, GM Wesley So drew against GM Aleksandr Lenderman and Nakamura drew against GM Ray Robson, earning them the second and third finishing positions respectively.

A New Face for United States Women’s Chess

I like to think that GM Nazi Paikidze, the new US Women’s Chess Champion is representative of the new wave of chess champions that are set to emerge in the next few years. Although her name might be new to some people, she has an extensive social media presence where she has advocated for chess, health, and fitness for quite some time. Paikidze’s Instagram and Twitter accounts are regularly updated, which shows that she has found a way to balance the demands of professional chess, staying healthy, and maintaining connection to family, friends, and her fans.

As the final round of the women’s section was about to begin, it looked as though WGM Tatev Abrahamyan was set to win, but her 16-year old opponent WIM Ashritha Eswaran shocked everyone by outplaying her opponent and scoring a devastating win.

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Paikidze played exceptional chess throughout the event with five draws and six wins. In what could be considered a Cinderella event, Paikidze’s final victory coming against last year’s champion, Irina Krush.

Congratulations to GM’s Fabiano Caruana and Nazi Paikidze for their victory in this year’s United States Chess Championship!

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World Chess Championship: Now We Know

Makeup of a Championship

The 2016 Candidates Tournament, which has been mined in controversy, is finally over. In a triumphant return to the world chess stage, Sergey Karjakin of Russia has earned the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship in New York City. Karjakin finished the tournament with a solid win over American GM Fabiano Caruana. After holding a relatively balanced position for most of the game, Caruana blundered a critical rook move:

Carlsen remains a clear favorite to retain his title, but Karjakin has an opportunity to snatch it away from Norway and bring it back to Mother Russia, whose state-funded system dominated world chess for almost a century. Congratulations and praise poured out from the community following the win.

Vishy Anand, who challenged Carlsen in 2014 and looked poised to return to the championship at certain points in the tournament, showed an amazing depth of class by symbolically passing the torch on to Karjakin via Twitter.

Giri’s Drawing Streak

As if this tournament did not already have enough oddities and challenges associated with it, Anish Giri managed to draw every one of his games in the tournament, a staggering 14/14 drawn games! Family, friends, and fans watched as Giri went from a theoretical challenger to the world champion to the subject of memes and jokes spread across the blogosphere.

Nakamura’s Implosion

Perhaps nothing besides Agon’s coverage policy was as disappointing as Hikaru Nakamura’s performance in the tournament. The American GM, who was among the candidates high on the list to challenge Magnus Carlsen, literally imploded. He regained some ground in the later rounds, but it was not enough to catch Karjakin, Caruana, and Anand who had pulled well ahead of their competitors.

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GM Hikaru Nakamura will have to wait another cycle. (Image Credit: FIDE)


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Final Standings Crosstable (Image Credit: Chessbase)

Now the chess world turns its attention to Norway Chess as the next major tournament gets set to begin in just a few short months. Check out the entire collection of games from the 2016 Candidates Tournament below:

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