|Fabiano Caruana is the 2007 Italian Champion|
|By Macauley Peterson|
|December 6, 2007|
Martina Franca, Italy
What a difference a year makes! American-Italian teenage phenom Fabiano Caruana is Italian Champion. Caruana tied for first in 2006, but lost a playoff to GM Michele Godena (2522) and had to settle for second place.
This time around, with the GM title and 120 additional rating points, it was all Fabiano as he cruised to victory on Tuesday in the annual championship of his new federation.
Caruana finished a full 3 points (!) ahead of his closest rival, IM Sabino Brunello, who handed the former Brooklynite his only loss of the tournament in round five.
"I was pretty happy with my result although I'm not sure my play merited 9.5/11," Fabiano tells CLO, modestly. (View the crosstable here.) He recounts that after the Brunello loss, the field was quite tight...for a while.
"Although I still retained a half point lead over Brunello after my draw against [Fabio] Bruno, I thought [Brunello] would be able to score highly in his last four games, due to the fact that he had played much stronger players than I thus far. With black against Godena and Garcia Palermo  I also wasn't sure that I would be able to do more than 3/4."
Instead Caruana aced the remaining four rounds, which are shown below. (This link contains all the games of the tournament in pgn. ) Meanwhile Brunello, who was chasing his second GM norm, floundered with only an even score.
Caruana's family left the United States three years ago and last Spring moved to Budapest, Hungary, where Fabiano achieved his third Grandmaster norm in July.
Fabiano's 2729 performance rating in Martina Franca was not his first 2700-plus effort; he also turned in a 2715 TPR in the strong Vlissingen Open, in southern Netherlands this past August.
Chess Life Magazine will publish an in-depth interview with Caruana in the January issue, just as he gears up for the perennial Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. There, Fabiano will be the second seed in the C-Group, behind Ukrainian Grandmaster Evgeney Miroshnichenko.
"I will have to have a very high performance to win. If I do manage it will be a very great success for me," writes Fabiano from Budapest. He will spend the next month preparing for the thirteen other players he will face in January.
"I recently added the Classical Sicilian to my repertoire and I hope I can further improve my openings and incorporate a few surprises as well."
Macauley Peterson recently earned his Masters in Film Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Winner of the "Best Editorial" award from the Chess Journalists of America, Macauley will be in Wijk aan Zee for the third straight year and can be reached at www.MacauleyPeterson.com.