Nakamura visits Detroit City CC

Detroit is known for many things… cars, music, sports and increasingly chess. On the weekend of August 21st, Hikaru Nakamura visited the Detroit City Chess Club (DCCC) and was welcomed by the community at-large. Kevin Fite who organized the visit hosted the four-time U.S. Champion and world’s #2 player, his fiance Maria DeRosa and FM Sunil Weeramantry, Nakamura’s stepfather. The world #2 player has been increasing his public appeal as he is poised to compete for the world title.

GM Hikaru Nakamura with fiance WFM Maria DeRosa
and stepfather FM Sunil Weeramantry.
Photo by Kwabena Shabu.

Fite took his guests to the oldest Italian restaurant in Detroit called Roma Cafe and then to Belle Isle which is a five-mile island ensconced on the Detroit River between U.S. and Canada. Being a spokesperson for Red Bull one knows that Nakamura would be willing to embark on adventure So while on the island, he and his fiance rode down the “Giant Slide,” one of the main attractions on the island. The ride was introduced in 1967 and was reopened last year after a period of inactivity.

Who said GMs can’t have fun?

What would a trip to Detroit by without a trip to Motown Records, the iconic label that spawned off a classic era of R&B music during the 50s and 60s. While most will recognize Motown music, it is not often that people will get the opportunity to visit the place where a musical revolution was started. Nakamura actually sported a Motown baseball cap at the Sinquefield Cup!

It was then on to Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers played the Texas Rangers. Nakamura and DeRosa were presented with authentic Major League Baseball jerseys and the organization recognized Nakamura on the big screen over center field. Fortunately, Detroit sent everyone home happy after a 4-0 victory. While the couple were enjoying the game Sunil was at work doing what he does best.

It’s a good thing the Tigers weren’t playing the New York Yankees!

While they were enjoying the game, His father Simul was giving a 3 hour lecture across town to a couple dozen chess enthusiast at All The Kings Men in Roseville, MI. Two people approached me after the lecture and said that was the best chess lecture they had every heard. After the ballgame and lecture, everyone came together had dinner at the popular nightspot the Punchbowl Social.

Of course the Detroit media were out in full force beginning on Friday morning which included TV and radio with one being international. Lunch at iconic Sweetwater Tavern in downtown Detroit is reputed the best wings in world! Since Nakamura was once in a wing-eating contest, he may have had a bit of nostalgia.

After lunch Nakamura was taken to play 50 of the Detroit City Chess Club scholastic players. Perhaps he was pleasantly surprised when he got a rip-roaring, two-minute ovation after he was introduced. While the DCCC has invited other chess luminaries, Nakamura is the highest profile chess player to visit the city.

Nakamura didn’t know Lake Michigan is full of sharks and was bitten!
Photos by Kwabena Shabu (unless stated otherwise).

According to a news report by modeldmedia, Fite made a wager with Nakamura that he could not beat his students in under three hours. In fact, the simul lasted more than four hours and the four-time champion was nicked for a draw and a loss. The player who defeated Nakamura was Bryan Wilson, Jr., an 8th grader from University Prep Science & Math Middle School. By his father’s count, “has won every state title there is.”

Fite told The Chess Drum,

With dozens of cameras and cell phone lights clicking and dozen’s of curious on-lookers that match began. Detroit was abuzz for days leading up to this wonderful event and of course it was totally electrifying the day of the event. Nakamura’s visit not only bought out the kids, parents and coaches but also tapped Detroit area’s talent by having NM John Brooks, former K12 U.S Champion and University of Michigan sophomore IM Atulya Shetty and other talent in attendance.

Nakamura with his Motown baseball cap at the Sinquefield Cup.
Photo by Lennart Ootes.

Detroit City Chess Club:


  1. Hopefully, people will realize how Hikaru has matured as a player and as a person. He has a beautiful fiance, is now #2 in the world on the live list. I have heard practically every hater from the time they swore he would not make 2600, beat a top ten player, win an elite tournament, make 2700, make the top ten, make 2800. The only two things left are beating Magnus Carlsen and winning the world championship. Will he accomplish both at the same time? Winning a single game against Carlsen will happen sooner or later. The question is “when”?

  2. Magnus is not an easy player to defeat and I am certain Naka is conscious of that. The no loss record he’s savoring against Naka cannot last forever. Naka’s biggest task is to actually clear a spot to challenge him. Something he has to do quickly before Fabiano beats him to it. It would be a pleasure to see him win the world championship. BTW, that’s a lovely picture with Sunil in the forefront!

    1. No top ten player is easy to defeat, but certainly 0-11 records are unusual and inexplicable to the top level. Some players simply do not play well against others. Mikhail Tal used to lose consistently against Viktor Korchnoi. Hikaru is certainly good enough to have won at least 4-5 games as Fabiano has done. Hikaru is a good score against most other top players including Kramnik, Anand and Caruana. Well… he is #2 now so we may see soon. He earned a spot and will play in the Candidates in March 2016.

  3. It’s mostly psychological. Perhaps it’s a self-confidence issue, but irrespective of what the problem is, Nakamaura needs to focus on challenging himself when he plays Magnus.

  4. It is good to see increased representation of U.S. Chess on the world scale w/ Super GM’s: Nakamura, Caruana, and So. The quality of tournaments represented by the Grand Chess Tour with winners of the Sinquefield Cup: Magnus Carlsen – 2013, Caruana -2014 (no losses!), and Levon Aronian – 2015, and other tournaments such as GM Maurice Ashley’s, “$500,000 HB Global Challenge (2005)”, to Ashley’s 2014 Millionaire Chess (w/ partner Amy Lee) which was won by Wesley So. It is great that Nakamura, Caruana, and So will be competing in the 2015 Millionaire Chess Open tournament as well as many other participants. Nakamura as #2, Caruana as #6, and So as #12 in the world and positions moving around with each major tournament and more playing for wins, instead of ties, makes for exciting game play. Both Nakamura & Caruana have both qualified for the Candidate’s Tournament via the FIDE Grand Prix 2014/2015, so they both will have a chance to play for the World Championship. We still have the World Cup 2015 from 9/10 – 10/5 to see who will be the top two from that selection and qualify for the Candidates Tournament. I agree w/ Dr. Shabazz that Nakamura has received much criticism over the years and he has proven he has grown and stepped up to the plate. I also agree he has a beautiful fiancé, so congrats to Nakamura on all accounts.

  5. Correction… I said,”Both Nakamura & Caruana have both qualified for the Candidate’s Tournament via the FIDE Grand Prix 2014/2015, so they both will have a chance to play for the World Championship”. They both have a chance to play in the Candidate’s to compete to play for the World Championship, as we know the winner of that tournament will play the current Champion, Magnus Carlsen. Sorry, a little symantec’s there… 🙂

  6. When I said Naka needs to challenge himself, I don’t mean that he needs to push himself harder, in fact I mean the opposite. If you listen to his post-game interviews after he loses to Magnus, he doesn’t think that he was outplayed, instead he has the tendency to come down really hard on himself for playing unexceptional chess. If that’s truly how he feels, then in my opinion he needs to find a way to challenge himself to put an end to it I’d love to see him at the very top, but clearly there’s a mental frailty that he continually struggles with when he’s up against the number one player in the world. Being #2 on the live chart is for the most part transient, so I wouldn’t put too much accent on it. Nonetheless, it is a terrific accomplishment!

    1. Hikaru is in a good place in the top five. Of course being the “live” #2 is terrific and it is very, very important signal that he is right there as a contender. Many still doubt that he is a capable challenger because of the personal record. Of course, matches are totally different (i.e., Fischer-Spassky). Few in the chess world saw Hikaru’s ability to make top five. Nevertheless, you have to write things as a journalist so it is a permanent, time-stamped record available by search. Part of the trick in online journalism is about indexing information so that the world can find answers to questions. So these facts are important. We don’t want non-chess journalists making all kinds of bone-headed mistakes. 🙂

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