Hikaru Nakamura

by Bill Wall


Hikaru Nakamura (Heh-CAR-uh NAH-kuh-muh-rah)† †was born on December 9, 1987 in Osaka, Japan.† His father is Japanese and his mother is American.†

In 1990, his family moved to California, then later to New York.† His mother, Carolyn, is a classically trained musician and former public school teacher.

He began playing chess in 1993, at the age of 5.† He was taught by his step-father, Sunil Weeramanty, who was a FIDE master.

In 1994, Hikaru went to the U.S. Open in Concord, California, but did not play in the tournament.  This was the first chess tournament he was around and he played chess in the Skittles room.

In the April 1995 USCF rating list, Hikaru was rated 788.

In May 1995, at the age of 7 years old, Hikaru began to play chess more regularly because his school (Ridgeway Elementary School) needed a fourth player for his older brotherís chess team.  He was coached by his stepfather, Sunil Weeramantry, a FIDE master, who was a master at 15.  At the time, Sunil was writing a book called Best Lessons of a Chess Coach, and made a video called Winning Chess for Kids.  Sunil won the New York State Chess Championship in 1975.  Sunil later became the executive director of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation and taught chess at Hunter Elementary School and other schools in Westchester County.

In April 1995, Hikaru played in the 1995 National Elementary Championship in Little Rock, Arkansas, and took 140th place.  His brother, Asuka, tied for 2nd in the 3rd Grade Open championship.

In December 1995, Asuka Nakamura took 1st place in the National Grade 4 championship, held in Syracuse, New York.  Hikaru tied for 2nd in the Grade 2 championship.

In May 1996, Asuka Nakamura took 1st place in the U.S. Elementary Championship, held in Tucson.  Hikaru took 31st place.

In October 1996, Hikaru tied for 1st place for 3rd Grade in the National K-12 Grade School Championship, held in Terra Haute, Indiana.  His rating was 1195 at the beginning of the year. 

In the January, 1997 USCF rating list, Hikaru Nakamura, age 9, was rated 1659.  His brother was rated 2048. 

In the 1996 USCF yearbook, published in the April 1997 issues of Chess Life, Hikaru, age 9, was the 20th highest rated player under 13, with a rating of 1846.  The list was led by Vinay Bhat, age 12, rated 2232.  Jordy Mont-Reynaud, age 13, was rated 2236 (the highest 13 year old).

In April 1997, Hikaruís older brother, Asuka, age 11, took 1st place for those in 6th grade and younger in the 1997 Super Nationals Scholastic Chess Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Hikaru, age 9,  took 1st place for 3rd grade, winning the National Primary Championship.  There were 4,300 chess players participating.  This was the first time that any sibling pair won first place in the championship section of their respective divisions.

In 1997, Hikaru won the New York 3rd grade championship.

In 1997 Hikaru won the 4th Grade championship in the National K-12 Grade School Championship, held in Parsippany, New Jersey.

In October 1997, Hikaru represented the Boys Under 10 USA team in the 1997 FIDE World Youth Chess Championships, held in Cannes, France.  Vinay Bhat and Jordy Mont-Reynaud represented the Boys Under 14. 

In October 1997, he attained an expert rating of 2027 at the age of 9 years and 10 months.

On December 31, 1997, at the age of 10 years and 0 months, Hikaru defeated International Master Jay Bonin at the Marshall Chess Club in 36 moves, becoming the youngest USCF player ever to beat an IM up to that time.

At the end of 1997 (December 1997 USCF rating list), Hikaruís rating was 2019.

In January 1998, Hikaru tied for 1st place in a New York tournament, ahead of his father, Sunil Weeramantry (2218), ahead of his older brother Asuka (2144), and ahead of Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier (2343).  Hikaru drew two masters (Stephen Stoyko, rated 2338, and Ralph Zimmer, rated 2279.  He defeated another master, Mark Kernighan, rated 2264.

On February 26, 1998, at the age of 10 years and 79 days, Hikaru achieved the title of chess master, becoming the youngest American ever to earn the title.  He broke the record previously set by Vinay Bhat, who in 1995 was a chess master at the age of ten years and six months.  In 2008, Nicholas Nip earned the chess master title at 9 years and 11 months.  Nakamura was playing in a tournament at the Marshall Chess Club when he earned his title and got a rating of 2203.  He defeated Ilijas Terzic (rated 2392) in the 2nd round.

After becoming Americaís youngest master, Hikaru appeared on the CBS news and was featured on ďLive With Regis and Kathie Lee.Ē

On April 5, 1998, Hikaru, age 10 years 117 days, beat Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier, rated 2363, in 21 moves.  He was the youngest player to beat a GM until Fabiano Caruana.  The youngest player ever to defeat a GM in a USCF-sanctioned tournament was Fabiano Caruana, age 10 years 61 days, when he defeated GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz in a USCF-rated event at the Marshall Chess Club.

Hikaru was on the cover of the May 1998 issue of Chess Life, with the words, ďHikaru Nakamura the Youngest Master Ever!Ē

In October-November 1998, Hikaru represented the USA in the under 12 boys division in the 1998 World Youth Championship, held in Spain.

In December, 1998, Hikaru tied for 1st in the 5th grade National All-Grades Championship in Oak Brook, Illinois.  His brother, Asuka, won the 7th grade National All-Grades championship.

At the end of 1998, Hikaruís rating was 2237. 

In February 1999, Hikaru beat Grandmaster Alexander Stipunsky in regulation time control, at the record age of 11 years and two months.

In the April 1999 USCF rating list, Hikaru was the nationís highest rated player under 13.  He was age 10 and rated 2237.

In July, 1999, Hikaru played in the U.S. Cadet Championship (under 16), held in Nashville and took 5th out of 8.  Jordy Mont-Reynaud won the event.  Hikaru won the best game prize, won in 23 moves.

In 1999, he won the K-9 Junior High School Championship.

In 1999, Hikaru Nakamura won the 20th annual Laura A. Aspis prize for the highest rated player under 13.  He was rated 2359.

At the end of 1999, Hikaruís rating was 2346. 

In March 2000, Hikaru tied for 1st place with GM Jaan Ehlvest in the National Open Blitz Championship.

In May 2000, Hikaru took 1st place in the National Elementary Championship, held in Dallas.  There were 2,029 players in the event.

In October 2000, Hikaru tied for 3rd in the under-14 section of the World Youth Championships. 

At the end of 2000, Hikaruís rating was 2391.  His FIDE rating was 2261.

Hikaru was awarded the FIDE master title at the age of 12.

In February 2001, Hikaru earned his third IM norm from a tournament in Eger, Hungary.  2001, Hikaru earned the International Master title at the age of 13 years and 2 months, the youngest IM ever

In March 2001, Hikaru played for the USA in a China vs. USA match in Seattle.

In April 2001, Hikaru tied for 1st in  the Super Nationals in Kansas City.  There were 4,606 players in the event.

In 2001, Hikaru earned the silver medal for the U.S. at the 2001 World Youth Championships in Oropessa, Spain.

In July 2001, Hikaru Nakamura, age 13, won the U.S. Junior Championship, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  There were 10 players.  Hikaru was the youngest person to win the U.S. Junior championship since Bobby Fischer.

Hikaru appeared on the October 2001 issue of Chess Life for being Americaís youngest International Master.

At the end of 2001, Hikaruís rating was 2476.

In January 2002, Hikaru earned his first GM norm in Bermuda with a tie for 1st place.  He beat four grandmasters.

In June 2002, Hikaru played in the Pan American Junior Championship, held in Bolivia, and tied for 1st place.

In August 2002, Hikaru won the 32nd Continental Open in Massachusetts.  His performance rating was 2766 after beating three grandmasters.

In September 2002, Hikaru played in the Imre Konig Memorial in San Francisco, beating grandmasters Nick de Firmian, John Fedorowicz, and Walter Browne.  He missed a GM norm by Ĺ point.

In 2002, Hikaru earned his second GM norm at the Copa Nazir Atallah Open in the Dominican Republic.

At the end of 2002, Hikaruís rating was 2614.  His FIDE rating was 2520.

In January 2003, he played in the U.S. Championship, held in Seattle, and took 9th-17th place.  He missed a grandmaster norm by Ĺ point.

On February 5, 2003, Hikaru Nakamura earned his third and final Grandmaster norm at 15 years and 79 days, breaking the record of Bobby Fischer, who earned the GM title at 15 years and 185 days on September 10, 1958.  Nakamura earned his final GM norm at the Bermuda International Chess Festival where he took 2nd place.  He also won the Bermuda blitz championship.  His USCF rating was 2619.

In June 2003, Hikaru tied for 1st place at the National Open in Vas Vegas.

In 2003, Hikaru won the Western States Open championship, held in Reno.  His peak rating for 2003 was 2656.

Hikaru qualified for the 2004 world chess championship in Tripoli, Libya.  He lost to Michael Adams in the 4th round after defeating Sergey Volkov, Aleksey Aleksandrov, and Alexander Lastin.

In 2004, Hikaru won the New York State championship.

In 2004, Hikaru won the Western States Open championship in Reno, defeating grandmasters Wojtkiewicz, Kudrin, and Yermolinsky, in succession.

In November-December, 2004, Hikaru won the 2005 U.S. Chess Championship at the age of 16 with a score of 7 out of 9, played in San Diego.  He tied with Alex Stripunsky, but beat him in the playoff games.  He is the second youngest player to become U.S. Chess Champion (behind Robert Fischer, who won it at age 14).   Nakamura earned $25,000 for winning the US Championship.  His rating at the end of 2004 was 2698.

In 2005, Hikaru won the Foxwoods Open championship.

In 2005, Hikaru won the North American Open.

On June 20, 2005, Hikaru Nakamura was selected as the 19th Frank Samford Chess Fellow, receiving a grant of $32,000 to further his chess education.

In November and December 2005, Hikaru entered the FIDE World Chess Cup, but lost to Surya Ganguly in the first round.

At the end of 2005, Hikaruís rating was 2762.

In 2006, Hikaru played on the USA team in the 37th Chess Olympiad, held in Turin, Italy.  The team won the bronze medal.  Nakamura played board three, behind Gata Kamsky and Alexander Onischuk.

In 2006, Hikaru won the North American Open chess championship.

Hikaruís peak rating for 2006 was 2774.

In 2007, Hikaru won the National Open championship in Las Vegas.

In 2007, Hikaru won the North American Open championship.

In October 2007, Hikaru won an international tournament in Barcelona.

At the end of 2007, Hikaruís rating was 2740.

In 2008, Hikaru won the Chicago Open championship.

In 2008, Hikaru played for the USA team in the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden.  The USA team won the bronze medal.

In 2008, Hikaru won the Gibraltar Masters Open.

At the end of 2008, Hikaruís rating was 2760.  His FIDE rating was 2704.

In May 2009, Hikaru won the U.S. Chess Championship held in St. Louis, Missouri.  He scored 7 out of 9.  2nd place went to GM-elect Robert Hess.  Nakamura won $40,000 for his efforts.  His pre-rating was 2751.  His post rating was 2773.  Nakamura was the 3rd highest rated player in the event, behind Gata Kamsky (2797) and Alexander Onischuk (2756).  His FIDE rating is 2701, ranked #30 in the world.

In August 2009, he became the Fischer Random 960 World Chess Champion.

In 2010, he won the gold medal for board 1 at the World Team Chess Championship, held in Turkey.† The USA team took the silver medal.

In January 2011, he was ranked #10 in the world with an Elo rating of 2751.

In 2011, he won the Tata Steel Grandmaster A tournament in Wijk aan Zee.† He finished ahead of the four top-rated players in the world.

In May 2012, his FIDE rating was 2775 and ranked #7 in the world.

Nakamura won his third US Championship in May with a score of 8Ĺ, one point ahead of Gata Kamsky.

At the 2012 Chess Olympiad in August and September, he led the U.S. team to a fifth-place finish with a +4−1=4 record on the first board.

In 2013, Nakamura had the highest FIDE blitz rating in the world.

In 2014, Nakamura was ranked #3 in the world, behind Carlsen and Aronian.

As of February, 2015, Nakamura was winning the Tradewise Gibralter tournament, winning the first 6 games in a row, defeating Veselin Topalov in the 6th round.