Caruana change to the US and draw by mutual agreement

Last week’s poll was on draw by mutual agreement. It seems that a very considerable minority thinks that draw offers should not be a part of chess at all. This actually surprised me, I thought people would have been more ambivalent about it.

Here are the results:

draw poll

It was big news recently that Fabiano Caruana decided to change back to the US. The rumoured transfer sum was $200,000 – and then there is the €50,000 to FIDE and an undeclared compensation to Italy. I am not sure we have heard the last thing in that saga.

But a separate question is if we want it to be possible to change country in this way? I will leave the debate to you guys, as I am an obvious hypocrite in this connection. In 2006 I changed to represent Scotland (with proof of address). I paid the FIDE transfer fee myself. But in 2010 I changed back to Denmark, still living at the same address (proving nationality with passport) and I will not rule out changing again in the future, though it is really not something I am planning to do…

But then it was not a business transaction for me. For Caruana and especially Naiditsch it certainly looks that way…

32 thoughts on “Caruana change to the US and draw by mutual agreement”

  1. I think if you represent a country at an international event; such as the Olympiad, you should not be allowed to switch to another country.

  2. Caruana’s situation is a little different than some other people.
    He is American by birth and still has American citizenship.
    Many US citizens go to Europe to live as the opportunities for chess there are much greater. I believe Nakamura actually spends more time in Italy than Caruana for example.

  3. Soviet School

    I find chess to be an individual game rather than a game where I feel as patriotic as I would be about the national football team.(though even then they just seem like a collection of rich individuals , rather than a national team). I hoped Short and Adams could have won their World championship matches for the growth of interest in chess in the UK that would have caused, though I felt more support for e.g. Kasparov and Kramnik as I prefer their style and openings.

  4. It strikes me as pretty weird to not allow Caruana to change to the US federation: He was born in the US to at least one american parent, he grew up in the US, he has an american passport, English is clearly his mothertongue, … I mean how much more american can you get? And if his change had been a purely financial decision (and nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned) he would have changed to Azerbaijan. At least allegedly the offer from there was significantly better.

  5. Jacob Aagaard

    I guess the argument would be that he changed to Italy and his situation has not changed since then, so if he can change, then you can change to anyone anytime for any reason!?
    I am totally on the sidelines on this one I should add 🙂

  6. Why does it look a business transaction for Naiditsch? After all, he moved to Germany when he was quite young, so it seemed logical to switch to the German chess federation anyway. I do however acknowledge that this move had its benefits.

  7. @Soviet School
    I think that does not apply to the Chess Olympiad and other team events. In those events countries are participating and not sponsored teams like in professonal cycling. I think it’s pretty weird if all the top-GMs are being bought e.g. by Azernaijan just so they can win the Olympiad. It would be different for a club team. Caruana though it a different case since indeed he has a US passport. One could argue the same rules could apply as e.g. for football, where it is also not enough just to bring a bag of money to hire e.g. Messi for the Dutch national team.

  8. Two salient examples are Karjakin and Lahno changing from Ukraine to Russia. I don’t know if these changes advance their chess carreers, although I suspect it to be the case. But I also think those federation changes are justified since some Ukrainians feel a close tie to Russia (witness current sad events). In general I feel the player should have some affinity to the new country and not be purely opportunisticly motivated (impossible to enforce in a reasonable way, of course).

  9. Jacob Aagaard

    Karjakin’s birth town is not located in Russia, though of course this is not recognised internationally, but probably by FIDE!

  10. Thanks Jacob. I looked him up on the rating list before writing here, there he was still listed at Germany… I fully agree this is an unusual move.

  11. Jacob Aagaard

    I in no way criticise Arkadij. The rules allows it. But rules that allows Caruana to change will also have to allow this change as far as I can see.

  12. Karjakin is ethnically Russian and from Crimea and has often outed his Russian nationalistic feelings. Another example is Israel’s Olympic team which consisted of only ex-soviet guys. But again they are ethnically Jewish and have as result emigrated to Israel.

    I’m of the opinion that you should have the nationality of the country you play for. I can’t believe that Wesley So or Arkadij Naiditsch (who is Latvian) are respectively American and Azerbeidzjani ?

  13. A lot of other players had done this previously, so it should be allowed for Caruana. Shirov for example changed from Latvia to Spain and years later, again to Latvia.

    Although it is not a big issue in chess world, I think that some regulations are needed there.
    For me, this one applied in football is fine: If you have already played with one national team (absolute category) in an offcial event, you should be allowed to play for another country.
    If there is not a clear written rule about it, you can’t deny any player to do it paying the fee. (by the way, need to pay a fee for this, is quite ridiculous for me).

    Also I think some regulations should be applied for team championships. Now some playes are playing for different teams the same year in all european countries, germany, france, spain, etc. and later these teams can meet each other in the european team championship and you can see this guy playing even for completely different team.

  14. @Fer
    Hardly a valid legal argument. I will not put in a lot of the deplorable acts that were legal even in my lifetime that are now eligible for years and years of prison, but just state that legal systems have a tendency to progress towards a greater sense of justice and humanity (politics aside).

    Shirov actually moved back to Latvia, which makes it a different case. I, on the other hand, changed federation twice from the same address. It was legal, but definitely ridiculous.

  15. @Jacob Aagaard

    I’m agree that there are a lot of legal things that are unfair, but if someone complain, the law is what we have.
    If Caruana would have a house in the states, then it would be fine for you this change? I’m quite sure that Rex Sinquefield could solve also this issue easily, if it is needed.
    Also there are a lot of other players, that lives in country and play for another one, so, where you live is not an issue for playing for one or another country. For me, if you have the nationlity of this country, you should be able to play for it, at least with the current FIDE rules.

  16. I hope the argument isn’t “so-and-so was born and raised and chess-educated in a certain country and therefore should never be allowed to move or represent another country.” That would be bad. If you run afoul of your federation and/or teammates (and you were in the right on those issues), you will never play on a national team again. That’s just not fair.

  17. Shurlock Ventriloquist

    To those people that want to see chess become a viable professional commodity for larger amounts of people:

    Mercenaries will be required.

    The other issue is maybe to stop all this nationalistic idiocy instead and do away with nations competing with each other as nations and pretending as if falling out of a womb in one place rather than another somehow makes one superior.

    Its pretty fecking stupid, really.

  18. Pawn Dillinger

    For me the argument has several angles. Chess is about individuals. If they can, they go wherever they need to in order to improve. That should be one’s right. Further along these lines, as an American, if I moved to Europe (say Germany) to improve my chess, I’d be a dual citizen. But if Germany took me in, then I should pay them back by representing that country, not the one I moved away from.
    A sideline: The nationalism shown by the U.S. when a 2600 or 2700 (or 2800) moves here from another country is embarrassing to me (to each his own). “U-S-A! U-S-A!” This is the mercenary factor. Yes, America is the melting pot. You want to mover here to be an American, welcome. Where it stinks is if someone pays one money to come here.
    To be clear: With its six-game, three-day open Swiss tournaments, the U.S. is not the best country to become the best player. Caruana and Nakamura’s moves to Europe are proof. (It also proves how amazing Bobby Fischer was, doing it all on his own from the U.S. and becoming arguably the greatest ever).
    Finally: I am too old and have neither the talent or money to move to Europe to take advantage of the coaching and nine- (or more) round tournaments. Conversely, there’s likely nobody that is more talented than Caruana, so he can’t be taught. So (minus mercenary money) his move back to the States, if he wants to live here, would be valid.
    To wrap it up, the U.S. can buy every top player in the world and move them to America, but even it wins…

  19. I think that So and Caruana moving to the US team for money is a shame. From their point of view, it is ok, they are professionnals, and the carrer is short. But from the point of view of their small countries -as chess is concerned- it is a scandal.
    Imagine that the best US athlètes or basket ball players move and play for Qatar, say ? How can you compete if as soon as you have a genius, he’s bought by a richer patron. Olympiads are senseless now -it should become a club competition.

  20. Until I see Caruana’s name under the US flag on the rating list I won’t believe this is a done deal. The Wesley So transfer was a saga and maybe we haven’t heard the end of this yet. I think it’s clear in So’s case that the move was successful for him. I believe players should be able to change nationality relatively easily (there’s a long history of chess players moving countries where they can better make a living or to avoid being disadvantaged by their home federation), but there should be a long waiting period before they can play for their new national team. Probably four years.

  21. Neiman-Caruana was born in the US. He was raised in the US. He learned to play chess in the US and was a rated master before he left the US.
    Is it more of a shame that he left the country that raised him or that he returned to it?
    So is a different discussion, I agree.

  22. Jacob Aagaard

    But he gave that up when he changed to Italy surely? I cannot see that changing back should be effortless, it undermines the consequences of changing in the first place.

  23. An Ordinary Chessplayer

    It is hard to reconcile high importance of national teams with ease of switching. On the other hand, shouldn’t satisfying the nation’s citizenship requirements be enough?

    Also dual citizenship is complicated, according to the US State Dept a dual citizen is legally obligated to both countries and owes allegiance to both countries. For Caruana this has meaning if Italy plays against the USA, regardless of which team he is currently on.

  24. Jacob Aagaard

    I guess the question is if you give up playing for a country, should you not do something to be able to return? Otherwise you are able to play for both more or less!

  25. Well there was the matter of $50,000 to FIDE(really that high? I don’t know as I don’t even have a FIDE rating despite having played 30-40 FIDE games) and some sort of compensation to Italy.
    Not many of us are able to play for both more or less with that high a bar of entry.

  26. In my opinion, there should be a limit to how many national leagues a player can play within a year. It’s getting ridicillous. As for national teams, I have no problem whatsoever with Caruana’s or Naiditsch’s transfer.

  27. I am a litte confused by the figures quoted in this blog post.

    According to FIDE’s website, the FIDE transfer fee for this level should be €5,000 not € 50,0000. The compensation fee to the Federation losing the player should be €50,000. This seems to make more sense since it is the Federation losing the player that is losing more. The FIDE fee should just cover the admistrative aspect.

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