The brash and fiendishly talented American (Nakamura moved to the US aged 2) has been dividing chess fans and even players ever since he first burst onto the scene as a phenomenal internet blitz player, unafraid to adopt the tricks and trash talk common in online chess. Despite his early success — he became a grandmaster at 15 and scored the first of his four US Championship victories as a 16-year-old — his rise to the very top took longer. He was hampered by a lack of top-level competitive chess in America, while many felt the absence of a solid chess education to back up his tactical skills would put a ceiling on his rise.
He’s since gone a long way to proving those critics wrong, most spectacularly by winning the 2011 Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee ahead of the world Top 4 of Carlsen, Anand, Aronian and Kramnik. Despite unpredictable results he’s seldom since been far from the top and remains popular with tournament organisers for his aggressive play and animated demeanour at the chessboard.
Nakamura finished second in the 2014-2015 FIDE Grand Prix series of tournaments by tying for first at the final leg in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia:
The victory earned him a coveted spot in the 2016 Candidates tournament to determine a challenger to the World Champion.
Other notable tournament victories include: