What Happened To Magnus Carlsen?

What Happened To Magnus Carlsen?

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The European Team Chess Championship that took place last month in Iceland is already a part of chess history. There were many remarkable games and memorable moments over there. Some people will remember the double win by the Russian men's and women's teams.

Personally, I wasn't surprised with this outcome at all. Moreover, I sort of predicted it in this article, which I concluded with the words: "The Soviet school of chess is back!"

For some chess players this tournament will be unforgettable due to an unusual number of huge blunders made by super GMs. Judge for yourself:

The list of similar blunders could go on and on. But for the majority of chess fans this tournament will be remembered due to the extremely poor performance of the world champion.

Indeed, after an outrageous start (just .5 out of his first three games), Magnus Carlsen barely scored 3.5 points in the seven games that he played in Iceland! And it is not even the result itself, but the quality of his games that was surprising.

We got used to the fact that in endgames similar to one pictured below, Carlsen scores around 80 percent even against the best players in the world.

Now look at the truly beginner's blunder committed by Magnus later in the game:

So what happened to Magnus Carlsen? In terms of age, he is supposed to be at the peak of his chess career. Money, coaches, seconds, etc., are definitely not issues for him either.

Then what has been plaguing his play in the last couple of tournaments?

Some people talk about his lack of motivation since he already proved many times that he is the best chess player in the world. I can't subscribe to this explanation, since it is a well-known fact that Magnus Carlsen is very competitive and even when he plays soccer on a free day of a tournament, he is usually the most motivated player.

My theory is different. When I saw Carlsen's outrageous blunder against Pelletier, I couldn't help but remember an equally shocking blunder of another world champion, Jose Raul Capablanca:

How could Capablanca, who was frequently called a "chess machine," commit a simple blunder like this? The famous chess historian Edward Winter gives this explanation: "It is frequently stated that Capablanca blundered against Samisch because of the unexpected arrival of his wife and/or a mystery woman (accounts vary) in the tournament hall."

Carlsen has been compared to Capablanca on numerous occasions since just like the great Cuban, Magnus is a genius and an endgame virtuoso. Therefore, a possible explanation of Carlsen's recent chess results could be "cherchez la femme"!

Experienced chess professionals know how a marriage affects your chess career, hence the notorious "rule of 100 rating points," which states that in the year after his marriage a grandmaster on average loses 100 rating points.

I remember an interview of one of close Carlsen's rivals but unfortunately I don't recall who it was. There the guy clearly stated that the gap between Carlsen and everyone else was so big that Carlsen getting a girlfriend was the only hope for the rest of the pack!

A tongue-in-cheek birthday wish from Anish Giri to Magnus Carlsen goes in the same direction: "Happy birthday! As a friend or a foe, [I] wish you to get a nice girlfriend, the only area in which I'm already much ahead of you."

As of today, Magnus Carlsen is probably the most eligible bachelor in the world. He is handsome, famous and rich! Girls all around the world take note of him.

A Russian model, "Lada Lexus," is one of the Carlsen's biggest fans. Her Facebook birthday wishes to Magnus say: "Although I am not there to celebrate your birthday, you are in my thoughts. Happy birthday to you!"

Moreover, she wrote "MK" on her hands ("MK" are Magnus Carlsen's initials in Russian):

photo via the "Lada Lexus" Facebook page 

One way or another, I think we'll know the answer to the question in the title of this article soon!

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