The championship of the United States came to replace that of Russia, as the strongest of the national championships. It is not only due to the war in Ukraine. Even before it, two things were appreciated: the usual policy of favoring immigration strengthened the team of North American players with top-level grandmasters such as the Armenian Aronian, the Cuban Lenier Domínguez, the Filipino Wesley So, to name a few. But in addition there is also a sustained growth of young American chess with many new values. The United States is likely to displace Russia, China, and India as the most dominant country in world chess..
The championship that has just ended was won by Fabiano Caruana. Let us remember that Caruana, in 2018, played a match for the world championship with Magnus Carlsen. He lost that match only in the rapid game tiebreak, after drawing all twelve games of classical play. Before and after that meeting, consistently, Caruana was always one of the main candidates for world champion. Perhaps the most, among all Carlsen’s challengers.
But the attraction and main focus of the tournament was not Caruana’s performance, nor the fight for first place either, in which the young Ray Robson gave Fabiano a fight until the last round. No, the greatest media interest, by far, was given by following the performance and Hans Niemann’s performance. Ultra promoted after Carlsen pointed him out, without conclusive evidence, of having beaten him by cheating, Niemann has become very popular on the networks. As a result of the aforementioned assumptions, the tournament organizers developed an extensive security system to avoid possible cheating, with Niemann himself being the subject of a thorough examination at the beginning of each round.
Well, at the end of thirteen rounds, Niemann won four games, lost three, and drew the rest, allowing him to maintain his ranking of 2699, currently number 40 in the world. He should go up about 30 points more, to enter the top twenty, and thus receive more invitations that allow him to often compete with the best, and with Carlsen himself, in case the Norwegian agreed to play with him , something that already warned that it would not do. But climbing 30 points, at that point, is like climbing the Himalayas. The truth is Niemann’s performance left the puzzle unsolved. He really has the level to compete, and eventually… beat Carlsen? Did you use illegal help?
Like suspense series, this saga will require a next chapter.