Fabiano Caruana gave the world one of the closest World Championship matches against Magnus Carlsen in November 2018. After successfully defending his title in the rapid playoffs (after 12 draws!), Carlsen said, “I feel that Fabiano was the strongest opponent I’ve played so far in a World Championship match.
In classical chess, he has just as much right as I do at this point to call himself the best in the world… I don’t think we’ve seen the last from Fabiano in this particular context.”
Clearly, Fabiano Caruana is one of the best players on the planet, with an Elo rating that is dangerously close to exceeding Magnus Carlsen’s at the very top!
Caruana’s progress to the top has included some amazing games. In this video, GM Ron W. Henley takes a look at two such games. The first against Berg from Dresden 2008, and the second against previous World Champion contender, Sergey Karjakin, played in Sao Paulo in 2012. The games are a great insight into the mind of Fabiano Caruana and his style of play.
Caruana’s Greatest Hits
When Fabiano Caruana was younger, he was a feared attacking player. Even in apparently calm lines, he found ways to go for an attack against the opponent’s king. In the video, GM Henley first takes a look at a game Fabiano Caruana played back in 2008, aged 16, against GM Emanuel Berg.
Playing with the White pieces, he faced the French Defense Rubinstein Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4) which has the reputation of behind very solid, leading to calm positions. Yet, Caruana managed to create an impressive attack.
Following the main line for several moves, the first interesting moment of the game occurred after Black’s 13th move (see the diagram to the left).
Here, moves like 14.Rfe1, 14.Bxf6 or 14.c3 look reasonable for White. Instead, Fabiano Caruana played the interesting 14.Kh1 Be7 15.Rde1!?
Playing moves like this requires thinking outside the box. The rook seems to be well-placed on the d-file. Yet, Caruana removes it and shows his intentions to go all in for a kingside attack.
After the moves15…h6 16.Bh4 Nd5 17.Bg3 (keeping more material on the board) 17…Bd6 18.Qe4 Nf6 19.Qh4 Nd7, Fabiano Caruana went for a crushing sacrifice with 20.Nxf7 (see the diagram on the right).
Fabiano Caruana executed a knight sacrifice to lure the Black king out. After 20…Kxf7, Caruana followed up with 21.Rxe6!!, a rook sacrifice to expose the Black king even more. Black is already in severe trouble.
You can go through the whole game here:
Be sure to watch the video for GM Henley’s expert analysis, as well as a look at a game Caruana played against Karjakin in 2012.
Fabiano Caruana’s chess career is a phenomenal success story. Among his countless tournament victories, his win in St Louis in 2014, finishing with 8.5/10 – 3 points ahead of Magnus Carlsen – stands out, with Caruana winning the first 7 games of the tournament against the world’s best.
But what do we really know about Fabiano Caruana?
In this course, GM Ron W. Henley retraces Caruana’s career, extracting powerful lessons from his best games and combinations, revealing how he went from amateur to World Championship challenger in just a few years. Click here to get your copy with 35% off today.
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