The King's Gambit
Fast Company|October 2021
Chess champion Fabiano Caruana has a winning strategy for keeping his head in the game.
YASMIN GAGNE

Fabiano Caruana is the No. 2–ranked chess player in the world. Fourteen years ago, he became the youngest American grandmaster, at age 14, beating a record set by chess legend Bobby Fischer. Still, the St. Louis– based Caruana—who trails Norway’s Magnus Carlsen by just 41 points—insists that he’s a pretty normal guy. “I like movies and sports, and I’m not a genius . . . plenty of people have the same skill level or ability as me,” he says. He credits his success to a strict training regimen and a strong work ethic. Here’s how he keeps his mental tools sharp enough to stay one of the best in the royal game.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Caruana’s parents signed him up for a chess club in Park Slope, Brooklyn, when he was 5 years old. “I was having some disciplinary problems at school, and they thought this could help,” he says. After his coach noticed his potential, he began taking private lessons and competing in tournaments at the Marshall Chess Club, in Manhattan. Now, beginners can train on their own. “There’s really great open-source software, so practicing at a high level is very accessible to people,” he says, adding that “the next few generations will be stronger than my generation because of that.” As chess players gain a following on Twitch, he hopes that more kids will pick up the game (see sidebar). However, he says, “there are some practical skills that you get from years of playing in tournaments, like learning how to play in front of people and assess your opponent sitting in front of you, that you can’t get in front of a screen.” For Caruana, embracing the game involved some personal sacrifices, including being homeschooled after age 12 in order to devote more time to tournaments.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAST COMPANYView All

Nike Go FlyEase

For many, shoes are a pain to put on. Our footwear requires some dexterity. And that’s more than just an annoyance for people with disabilities, ranging from arthritis to partial paralysis.

1 min read
Fast Company
October 2021

Hydrogen Takes the Spotlight

SocCalGas [H2] Hydrogen Home is set to revolutionize renewable energy in California

4 mins read
Fast Company
October 2021

Detoxing Twitter

As Twitter’s first Chief Design Officer, Dantley Davis was given a mandate to fight toxicity on the platform and shake up the company’s corporate culture. Both are uphill battles.

10+ mins read
Fast Company
October 2021

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Halloween Kills isn’t the only project of hers that’s slaying.

7 mins read
Fast Company
October 2021

Jeanne Gang – Building on the Past

Internationally renowned architect Jeanne Gang is transforming neglected old structures into modern marvels.

2 mins read
Fast Company
October 2021

A New Vision

Neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg’s breakthrough neural code is restoring sight in humans and expanding visual capabilities in computing, but some of her academic peers would like to see more transparency in her data.

10+ mins read
Fast Company
October 2021

Katie Porter - U.S. Representative (D-CA 45th District)

The Most Creative People in Business 2021

10+ mins read
Fast Company
September 2021

The Imitation Game

Retail has always thrived on Target, with its billion-dollar private trends—spotting them, copying them labels, has turned this and capitalizing on them approach into a winning strategy.

10+ mins read
Fast Company
September 2021

Wind of Change

Public companies are struggling to embrace stakeholder capitalism. Can a new breed of activist investor help?

7 mins read
Fast Company
September 2021

The King's Gambit

Chess champion Fabiano Caruana has a winning strategy for keeping his head in the game.

4 mins read
Fast Company
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

WHY DO SOME QUESTIONS CONFUSE ROBOTS?

A COMPUTER can easily defeat a human at chess or even the quiz show Jeopardy. But questions that seem obvious trip them up. Read these three:

2 mins read
Muse Science Magazine for Kids
September 2021

Kill a Plant.

Humans have unmatched power to alter natural landscapes. Let’s use it for good.

4 mins read
Backpacker
September - October 2021

POPULAR PSEUDOMORPHS - More Common Varieties Enhance Any Collection

In part one of this two-part series, which appeared in the December 2020 issue of Rock & Gem, we explained pseudomorphs as minerals whose normal form has changed, so they may look like the original but are now another mineral.

7 mins read
Rock&Gem Magazine
January 2021

MAKE YOUR ESCAPE

CREATE A PRIVATE BACKYARD RETREAT

2 mins read
RETREAT Magazine
Issue 20

Gridopolis is Major Fun!

MAJOR FUN INTERVIEW

5 mins read
Casual Game Insider
Fall 2020

GAMES & STORYTELLING

TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY

7 mins read
Casual Game Insider
Fall 2020

Haskins: ‘Success for me is finding ways to lead'

Dwayne Haskins wants to be king of the castle.

6 mins read
Warpath
October 2020

TEN TIPS TO CARE FOR YOURSELF - WHILE CARING FOR SOMEONE ELSE

When giving your all in the sacred role of caring for a loved one, an essential piece is often missing from the equation: YOU! You cannot stop living your life. It will not be good for you, and it will certainly not be good for your loved one. The moment you feel trapped, a host of other negative qualities and unhealthy emotions—resentment, anger, impatience, irritability— will begin to creep in.

8 mins read
Alternative Medicine
March/April 2020

16 things to do before you turn 16

THIS SUMMER IS THE PERFECT TIME TO BE IN NATURE, FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

5 mins read
Girls' Life magazine
June/July 2020

FULL AUTO

Meeting the excitable team behind auto-battler spin-off DOTA UNDERLORDS.

10+ mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
April 2020