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Fabiano Caruana Earns 3rd GM Norm Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
July 19, 2007
Photo Carlos Menendez

by Jennifer Shahade

Fabiano Caruana just earned his third GM norm in July's first Saturday tournament in Budapest. He also earned his first two norms in the March and April editions of the famous First Saturday tournaments, held in downtown Budapest. Fabiano has dual American-Italian citizenship and a FIDE rating of 2549. At 14 years old, he is set to beat Hikaru Nakamura's record as the youngest American GM ever! (pending FIDE approval) Fabiano earned his last norm at 14 years and 350 days, while Hikaru earned his at 15 years and 58 days.

In addition to his final norm, Fabiano won the July First Saturday tournament with 7/9. View the complete crosstable here. His favorite game was his first round, where he found a nice tactic (Rxg2!) to finish the game.


He clinched his norm in the last round, in a long endgame victory:


Fabiano tells CLO, "After I won this game, I felt absolutely normal as though I had won any ordinary game. Of course, I realized that something had changed, that at age 14, I was the youngest American GM ever, but I didn't feel any different." Fabiano did not paint the town black and white either: "As for celebrating, I did nothing."

Fabiano moved from Brooklyn to Madrid in December, 2004, and then to Budapest in April of this year. However, he enjoys dual American and Italian citizenship and is currently ranked as the #1 player in Italy. He has not played much in the U.S, but he did travel here last December, and tied for first in the 2006 Eastern Open. Fabiano's father, Lou Caruana explained that they moved to Budapest for a variety of reasons: the First Saturday tournaments, proximity to Fabiano's current coach, GM Alexander Chernin, central European location, and non Euro currency.

In the U.S., Fabiano was first coached by Bruce Pandolfini. A great picture of the two of them was featured in writer and chess afficionado Paul Hoffman's article in the New Yorker "The Pandolfini Defense." (Unfortunately, only an abstract is available on the web.) After Pandolfini, Fabiano worked with GM Miron Sher for four years-Sher was Fabiano's coach when he broke 2200 at 11 years old. Throughout his two year stint in Spain, Fabiano worked with IM Boris Zlotnik.

Fabiano says that his biggest chess strength right now is in dynamic tactical positions. His short-term goal is to break 2600. After his victory last week, he needs just over 20 points to reach this goal. But first he has some celebrating to do: his GM title, and his 15th birthday, coming up on July 30.