- Japanese-born American Hikaru Nakamura is the country's No. 1 chess player
- He's ranked No.3 in the world and was awarded the title of grandmaster aged 15
(CNN)Hikaru Nakamura was always the smartest kid in the room.
By the time the Japanese-born American reached the ripe old age of 10, he was anointed the title of chess master. Five years later, he became the youngest grandmaster since the legendary Bobby Fischer.
Now 27, Nakamura is the world No. 3 gearing up to face the rest of the top 10 in the $1 million purse Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri.
CNN caught up with the speed-chess expert on his mind-set leading into the tournament's opening move on Saturday, where he expanded on everything from Garry Kasparov to the stock market to sake:
How old were you when you won your first tournament?
I was seven years old.
Did you play high school chess?
No I didn't play high school chess, because by that time I was already being home schooled. So I was competing in individual tournaments all over the world.
At what age were you pulled from the traditional classroom?
At nine years old, after fourth grade. Primarily it was to give me the opportunity to compete abroad because if I stayed in regular school I would not have been able to get the excused absences to compete in enough events to progress my career.
For example one tournament is roughly nine rounds, and most of them were serious enough that it was one round per day, so if you average that out, that's nine days potentially. You can do that once or twice during the school year, but beyond that it's just not going to work.
Any idea you'd go on to be a chess champion at that point?
I think (my parents) had some inclination that I might become a top chess player -- I was already one of the top junior players in America -- but to go from a strong junior player to world champion caliber, you really can't know that ahead of time.
They perhaps had some dreams or thoughts, but I don't think they really thought it was likely. I think they just wanted to see how far it could go.
At what age did the corner start to turn?
I think when I was 15-years-old, when I broke the record for the youngest American grandmaster. Bobby Fischer previously held the record (Nakamura was three months younger; it has been broken twice since.) Once I broke the record, I knew I would have some chances to go quite far.