Is Magnus Carlsen The LeBron James Of Chess?

Is Magnus Carlsen The LeBron James Of Chess?

| 107 | Fun & Trivia

Who is the LeBron James of chess?

The National Basketball Association playoffs are in full swing, and the best players in the world are battling it out, hoping to win an NBA championship.

LeBron James fell just short of a championship last season, and this year he might not win the league's most valuable player award. But he is still considered by most fans to be the best basketball player in the world, and he is a very likely candidate to win the title this June.

Meanwhile, the world’s top chess players just completed a super-grandmaster tournament in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. World Champion Magnus Carlsen scored a clear victory there to further cement his status as the best chess player alive.

It’s pretty clear, then, that Magnus Carlsen is the LeBron James of chess.

Magnus Carlsen = LeBron James

photo credit: Wikipedia (James),  (Carlsen

Both are widely regarded as the all-around best player in their respective games.

Both are noted for their versatility. James can play any position on the basketball court, and Carlsen is world champion not just in classical chess, but in blitz and rapid chess, as well.

Both Carlsen and James are possibly the best natural talents ever in their games. James makes nearly impossible basketball feats look easy, like full-court shots:

Lately, Carlsen has been making chess look like the easiest game in the world with his domination in top tournaments.

If Carlsen continues this level of success, maybe one day we’ll say that LeBron James is the Carlsen of the NBA.

So who are the chess versions of some other top basketball players? Let us know your favorite comparisons in the comments section or on Facebook.

Fabiano Caruana = Stephen Curry 

photo credit: Wikipedia (Curry), (Caruana

Both of these exciting young players are noted for their hot streaks. Fabiano Caruana won seven straight games in the strongest chess tournament ever, the 2014 Sinquefield Cup. Caruana demolished the best players in the world in a game where a draw is the most likely result.

Steph Curry won the NBA’s venerable three-point shootout in February, setting a record high score of 27. ESPN reported that Curry made an astonishing 77 consecutive three-pointers in practice this month:

Looks like both Caruana and Curry are linked to the number "7" when it comes to streaks. 

Hikaru Nakamura = John Wall

photo credit: Wikipedia (Wall), (Nakamura

If you took a poll of NBA players to find out who is the quickest on the court, John Wall would probably win. Wall is also known for his ability to steal the basketball to start a devastating fast break.

Hikaru Nakamura is the speedster of chess. He’s surely the best online bullet and blitz player of all time. In January, Nakamura obliterated the super-GM Wesley So in the highest-rated Death Match ever.

Earlier this month, Nakamura played a speed chess marathon on against all comers, with predictable results.

Wesley So = Anthony Davis

photo credit: Wikipedia (Davis), (So

Both Wesley So and Anthony Davis are very young, up-and-coming players who could challenge for titles for many years to come. 

So and Davis are both notable for their current talent and future potential, and both were born in the year 1993.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave = Tony Parker

photo credit: Wikipedia (Parker), (MVL

It's tempting to equate Vachier-Lagrave to the NBA players Michael Carter-Williams or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the name structure alone, but MVL is better at chess than either of those two players are at basketball.

Both MVL and Tony Parker are French, athletic, and quick. Both perform well in the clutch or under time-pressure.

You can watch MVL take on's IM Daniel Rensch in the physically and mentally taxing sport of giant-piece bullet chess, below:

Viswanathan Anand = Tim Duncan 

photo credit: Wikipedia (Duncan), (Anand

Vishy Anand and Tim Duncan both have won multiple world championships, and each has been performing at the top of his game for decades.

What's more, both Anand and Duncan have reputations as very polite and are known as the gentlemen of their respective games.

Historical Bonus:

Garry Kasparov = Michael Jordan

photo credit: Wikipedia (Jordan), (Kasparov)

Kasparov and Jordan are both legends, each considered by many to be the best player in the history of his game.

Both Kasparov and Jordan were born in 1963, separated by barely two months. Both completely dominated their respective games in the 1980s and 1990s, notching heaps of world titles and ridiculous winning percentages.

Each of these legendary men is the historical great to which every current top player is inevitably compared. If Carlsen wants to be considered the best chess player ever, he has to match Kasparov's resume. If James wants to go down as basketball's all-time best, he has to leap past Jordan.

Both retired from their games to focus on larger goals. Jordan is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Kasparov left chess to pursue politics, but returned to the game this weekend to defeat GM Nigel Short in St. Louis. 

Who do you think are some other good chess/basketball comparisons, current or historical? Let us know in the comments below. 

More from Pete
Can You Solve Our 2022 Holiday Puzzler?

Can You Solve Our 2022 Holiday Puzzler?

Can You Solve Our 2021 Holiday Puzzler?

Can You Solve Our 2021 Holiday Puzzler?