History of CM

History of CM

Feb 27, 2015, 3:42 AM |

Magnus Carlsen

Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen (Norwegian: [sʋɛn ˈmɑŋnʉs

øːn ˈkɑːɭsn̩] ; born 30 November 1990) is a Norwegian

chess grandmaster, No. 1 ranked player in the world

and reigning World Chess Champion in classical, rapid

and blitz. His peak rating is 2882, the highest in

history .

A chess prodigy, Carlsen became a Grandmaster in

2004, at the age of 13 years, 148 days, making him at

that time the second youngest grandmaster in history,

although he has since become the third youngest. On 1

January 2010, at the age of 19 years, 32 days, he

became the youngest chess player in history to be

ranked world No. 1 . In November 2013, Carlsen

defeated Viswanathan Anand in the World Chess

Championship 2013 , thus becoming the new world

chess champion . On the May 2014 FIDE rating list,

Carlsen reached his top Elo rating of 2882, [1] the

highest in history. He successfully defended his title in

November 2014, once again defeating Anand.

Carlsen was known for his attacking style as a

teenager and later developed into a more universal

player. He does not focus on opening preparation as

much as other top players and plays a variety of

openings, making it harder for opponents to prepare

against him. His positional mastery and endgame

prowess have drawn comparisons to those of former

world champions José Raúl Capablanca , Vasily

Smyslov, and Anatoly Karpov.


Carlsen giving a simultaneous

exhibition in Molde in July 2004

Carlsen was born in Tønsberg , Norway, on 30

November 1990, to Sigrun Øen and Henrik Albert

Carlsen, both engineers ( sivilingeniør) by profession.

[2] The family spent one year in Espoo , Finland, and

then in Brussels , Belgium, and in 1998 returned to

Norway and settled in Lommedalen , Bærum . They

later moved to Haslum .[3] Carlsen showed an aptitude

for intellectual challenges at a young age: at two

years, he could solve 50-piece jigsaw puzzles; at four,

he enjoyed assembling Lego sets with instructions

intended for children aged 10–14. [4] His father taught

him to play chess at the age of 5, although he initially

showed little interest in the game. [5]

The first chess book Carlsen read was Find the Plan

by Bent Larsen ,[6] and his first book on openings was

Eduard Gufeld 's The Complete Dragon . [7] Carlsen

developed his early chess skills by playing alone for

hours at a time—moving the pieces around the

chessboard, searching for combinations, and replaying

games and positions shown to him by his father.

Simen Agdestein emphasises Carlsen's extreme

memory, claiming that he was able to recall the areas,

population numbers, flags and capitals of all the

countries in the world by the age of five. Later, Carlsen

had memorised the areas, population numbers, coat-

of-arms and administrative centres of "virtually all"

Norwegian municipalities .[8] Carlsen participated in

his first tournament—the youngest division of the 1999

Norwegian Chess Championship —at the age of 8

years and 7 months, scoring 6½/11. [9]

Carlsen was later coached at the Norwegian College of

Elite Sport by the country's top player, Grandmaster

(GM) Simen Agdestein, [10] who in turn cites

Norwegian football manager and Egil "Drillo" Olsen as

a key inspiration for his coaching strategy. [2] In 2000,

Agdestein introduced Carlsen to Torbjørn Ringdal

Hansen, an International Master (IM) and former

Norwegian junior champion, as Ringdal served a one-

year siviltjeneste at the college. Over the course of

this year, Carlsen's rating rose from 904 in June 2000,

to 1907. Carlsen's breakthrough occurred in the

Norwegian junior teams championship in September

2000, where Carlsen scored 3½/5 against the top

junior players of the country, and a performance rating

(PR) of about 2000. [11] Apart from chess, which

Carlsen studied about three to four hours a day, his

favourite pastimes included football , skiing, and

reading Donald Duck comics. [12] Carlsen also

practiced ski jumping until the age of ten. His personal

best is 21 metres. [13]

From autumn 2000 to the end of 2002, Carlsen played

almost 300 rated tournament games, as well as

several blitz tournaments, and participated in other

minor events. [14] After this, he obtained three IM

norms in relatively quick succession; his first was at

the January 2003 Gausdal Troll Masters (score 7/10,

2345 PR), the second was at the June 2003

Salongernas IM-tournament in Stockholm (6/9, 2470

PR), and the third and final IM norm was obtained at

the July 2003 Politiken Cup in Copenhagen (8/11,

2503 PR). He was officially awarded the IM title on 20

August 2003. [15] After finishing primary school,

Carlsen took a year off to participate in international

chess tournaments held in Europe during the fall

season of 2003, returning to complete secondary

education at a sports school. [16][17] During the year

away from school, he finished in a tie for third in the

European Under-14 Boys Championship. [18]

Chess career

Carlsen vs. Ernst, 2004

a b c d e f g h

8 8

7 7

6 6

5 5

4 4

3 3

2 2

1 1

a b c d e f g h

Position after 17...c5. The game

continued 18.Ng6 fxg6 19.Qxe6+ Kh8

20.hxg6 Ng8 21.Bxh6 gxh6 22.Rxh6+

Nxh6 23.Qxe7 Nf7 24.gxf7 Kg7 25.Rd3

Rd6 26.Rg3+ Rg6 27.Qe5+ Kxf7 28.Qf5+

Rf6 29.Qd7#

Carlsen made headlines after his victory in the C

group at the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee.

Carlsen obtained a score of 10½/13, losing just one

game (against the highest-rated player of the C group,

Duško Pavasovič). [19] As a result of the victory, he

earned his first GM norm, and achieved a PR of 2702.

Particularly notable was his win over Sipke Ernst in

the penultimate round, when Carlsen sacrificed

material to give mate in just 29 moves. [20] The first

23 moves in that game had already been played in

another game—Almagro Llanas– Gustafsson , Madrid

2003 (which ended in a draw )—but Carlsen's over-

the-board novelty immediately led to a winning

position. Carlsen's victory in the C group qualified him

to play in the B group in 2005, and it led Lubomir

Kavalek , writing for the Washington Post , to give him

the title " Mozart of chess". Agdestein said that Carlsen

had an excellent memory and played an unusually

wide range of openings. [21] Carlsen's prowess caught

the attention of Microsoft, which became his sponsor.


Carlsen obtained his second GM norm in the Moscow

Aeroflot Open in February. On 17 March, in a blitz

chess tournament in Reykjavík , Iceland, Carlsen

defeated former World Champion Anatoly Karpov . The

blitz tournament was a preliminary event leading up to

a rapid knockout tournament beginning the next day.

In that event, Carlsen was paired with Garry Kasparov ,

then the top-rated player in the world. Carlsen

achieved a draw in their first game and lost the

second one, and was thus knocked out of the

tournament. [23]

In the sixth Dubai Open Chess Championship, held

18–28 April, Carlsen obtained his third and final GM

norm. This caused him to become the world's

youngest GM at the time, as well as the third-youngest

GM in history (after Sergey Karjakin , who earned the

title at the age of 12 years and 7 months[24] and

Parimarjan Negi). [25] Carlsen played in the FIDE

World Chess Championship , thus becoming the

youngest player ever to participate in one, but was

knocked out in the first round by Levon Aronian. [26]

In July, Carlsen and Berge Østenstad (then the

reigning Norwegian champion) tied for first in the

Norwegian Chess Championship, each scoring 7/9. A

two-game match between them was arranged to

decide the title. Both games were drawn, which left

Østenstad the champion because he had superior

tiebreaks in the tournament. [27]

In the Smartfish Chess Masters event at the Drammen

International Chess Festival 2004–05, Carlsen

defeated Alexei Shirov , then ranked No. 10 [28] in the

world, as well as the co-winner of the tournament. [29]

In the semifinals of the Ciudad de León rapid chess

tournament in June, Carlsen played a four-game

match against Viswanathan Anand, who was ranked

No. 2 in the world at the time and had won the 2003

World Rapid Chess Championship .[30] Anand won 3–

1. [31]

In the Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen again

finished in shared first place, this time with his mentor

Simen Agdestein. A playoff between them was played

between 7 and 10 November. This time, Carlsen had

the better tiebreaks, but the rule giving the title to the

player with better tiebreak scores in the event of a 1–

1 draw had been revoked previously. The match was

closely fought—Agdestein won the first game, Carlsen

the second—so the match went into a series of two-

game rapid matches until there was a winner. Carlsen

won the first rapid game, Agdestein the second. Then

followed three draws until Agdestein won the

championship title with a victory in the sixth rapid

game. [32]

Carlsen in Warsaw, 2005

At the end of 2005, Carlsen participated at the Chess

World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. In the

knockout tournament, he upset the 44th-ranked Zurab

Azmaiparashvili in round one, and proceeded to defeat

Farrukh Amonatov and Ivan Cheparinov to reach the

round of 16. There, Carlsen lost to Evgeny Bareev , [33]

but then won against Joël Lautier and Vladimir

Malakhov before losing again to Gata Kamsky. Thus,

Carlsen finished in tenth place and became the

youngest player to be an official World Championship

Candidate. [34] In October, he took first place at the

Arnold Eikrem Memorial in Gausdal with a score 8/9

and a PR of 2792. [35]

Carlsen qualified for a place in the Corus B group due

to his first place finish in Corus group C in 2004. His

shared first place with Alexander Motylev with 9/13

(+6−1=6) qualified him to play in the Corus group A

in 2007. [36]

At the traditional international 'Bosna' tournament in

Sarajevo 2006, Carlsen shared first place with Liviu-

Dieter Nisipeanu (who won on tiebreak evaluation)

and Vladimir Malakhov; this could be regarded as

Carlsen's first “A” elite tournament win, although it

was not a clear first. [37]

Carlsen was close to winning the 2006 Norwegian

Chess Championship outright, but a last-round loss to

Berge Østenstad dropped him into another tie for first

place with Agdestein. It also prevented Carlsen from

beating Agdestein's record as the youngest Norwegian

champion ever. [38] Nonetheless, in the playoff held

from 19–21 September, Carlsen won 3–1. After two

draws at standard time controls, Carlsen won both

rapid games in round two, securing his first Norwegian

championship win. [39]

Carlsen won the Glitnir Blitz Tournament [40] in

Iceland. He achieved a 2–0 win over Viswanathan

Anand in the semifinals and achieved the same score

in the finals. [41] He scored 6/8 in the 37th Chess

Olympiad and achieved a PR of 2820. [42]

In the Midnight Sun Chess Tournament, Carlsen

finished second behind Sergei Shipov .[43] In the Biel

Grandmaster Tournament, he placed second, beating

the tournament winner Alexander Morozevich twice.


In the NH Chess Tournament held in Amsterdam in

August, Carlsen participated in an "Experience" vs.

"Rising Stars" Scheveningen team match. The "Rising

Stars" won the match 28–22, with Carlsen achieving

the best individual score for the Rising Stars team

(6½/10) and a 2700 PR, thus winning the right to

participate in the 2007 Melody Amber tournament. [45]

With a score of 7½/15, Carlsen placed 8th out of 16

participants at the World Blitz Championship in Rishon

LeZion, Israel. [46] In the rapid chess tournament

Rencontres nationales et internationales d'échecs in

Cap d'Agde , France, he reached the semifinal, losing

there to Sergey Karjakin. [47] In November, Carlsen

achieved a shared 8th place of 10 participants in the

Mikhail Tal Memorial in Moscow with two losses and

seven draws. He finished ninth in a group of 18

participants in the associated blitz tournament, which

was won by Anand. [48]

Carlsen playing Levon Aronian at

Linares 2007

Playing in the top group of the Corus chess

tournament for the first time, Carlsen placed last with

nine draws and four losses, scoring 4½/13. [49] In the

prestigious Linares chess tournament, Carlsen played

against the following top-rated players: Veselin

Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler , Alexander

Morozevich, Levon Aronian, Peter Leko , and Vassily

Ivanchuk . Despite being rated significantly lower than

any of them, he finished in second place on tiebreaks

with 7½/14, having scored four wins, seven draws and

three losses, and achieving a PR of 2778. [50]

Carlsen played for the first time in the Melody Amber

blind and rapid chess tournament in Monte Carlo in

March. In the 11 rounds, he achieved eight draws and

three losses in the blindfold games, as well as three

wins, seven draws and one loss in the rapid games.

This resulted in a shared ninth place in the blindfold,

shared second place in the rapid (behind Anand), and

a shared eighth place in the overall tournament. [51]

In May and June, he participated in the Candidates

Tournament for the FIDE World Chess Championship

2007 , facing Levon Aronian in a six-game match at

standard time controls, which Carlsen drew (+2−2=2)

by coming from behind twice. The four-game rapid

playoff was drawn as well (+1−1=2), with Carlsen

winning the last game to stay in the match. Eventually,

Aronian eliminated Carlsen from the tournament after

winning both tiebreak blitz games. [52]

In July and August, Carlsen won the Biel Grandmaster

Tournament with a 6/10 record and a PR of 2753. His

score was matched by Alexander Onischuk and they

played a match to break the tie. After drawing two

rapid and two blitz games, Carlsen won the

armageddon game. [53] Immediately after the Biel

tournament, Carlsen entered the open Arctic Chess

Challenge in Tromsø , but his fourth place result with

+5=4 was a slight underperformance in terms of

rating. In the first round, Carlsen, surprisingly,

conceded a draw to his classmate Brede Hagen (rated

2034) [54] after having a lost position at one point. [55]

A game which attracted some attention was his sixth-

round win over his father, Henrik Carlsen. [56]

Carlsen reached the semifinal round of the World

Chess Cup in December, after defeating Michael

Adams in the round of 16 and Ivan Cheparinov in the

quarterfinals. In the semifinal, he was eliminated by

the eventual winner, Gata Kamsky, scoring ½–1½. [57]

Carlsen in 2008

In the top group A of the Corus chess tournament,

Carlsen scored 8/13, achieving a PR of 2830. Carlsen

won five games, lost two and drew six, sharing first

place with Levon Aronian. [58] At the Linares chess

tournament, Carlsen had another 2800+ PR, scoring

8/14. He finished in sole second place, ½ point behind

the winner World Champion Viswanathan Anand. [59]

In March, Carlsen played for the second time in the

Melody Amber blind and rapid chess tournament, held

in Nice for the first time. In the 11 rounds he achieved

four wins, four draws and two losses in the blindfold,

and three wins, two losses, and six draws in the rapid.

This resulted in a shared fifth place in the blindfold,

shared third place in the rapid and a shared second

place in the overall tournament. [60]

Carlsen was one of 21 players in the six-tournament

FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2009 , a qualifier for the World

Chess Championship 2012 . In the first tournament, in

Baku, Azerbaijan , he finished in a three-way tie for

first place, with another 2800 PR. Carlsen later

withdrew from the Grand Prix cycle despite his initial

success, criticizing how FIDE was "changing the rules

dramatically in the middle of a [World Championship]

cycle". [61]

Carlsen won a rapid match against Peter Leko held in

Miskolc, Hungary, scoring 5–3. [62] In June, Carlsen

won the annual Aerosvit event, [63] finishing

undefeated with 8/11 in a category 19 field and

achieving a PR of 2877, his best PR at that point in

his career. [64] Playing in the category 18 Biel

Grandmaster Tournament, Carlsen finished third with

6/10, with a PR of 2740. [65]

In the Mainz World Rapid Chess Championship,

Carlsen finished in second place after losing the final

to defending champion Anand 3–1. [66] In the

qualification round Carlsen scoring 1½–½ against

Judit Polgár, 1–1 against Anand and 1–1 against

Alexander Morozevich . [67] In the category 22 Bilbao

Masters, Carlsen tied for second with a 2768 PR. [68]

Playing in Group A of the Corus chess tournament,

Carlsen tied for fifth with a 2739 PR. [69] In the

Linares chess tournament, Carlsen finished third with

a 2777 PR. [70] Carlsen tied for second place with

Veselin Topalov at the M-Tel Masters (category 21)

tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. He lost to eventual

winner Alexei Shirov in their final game, dropping him

from first. [71]

Carlsen won the category 21 Nanjing Pearl Spring

tournament, 2½ points ahead of second-place finisher

Topalov, the world's highest-rated player at the time.

He scored an undefeated 8/10, winning every game as

white (against Topalov, Wang Yue, Leko, Radjabov,

and Jakovenko), and also winning as black against

Jakovenko. By rating performance, this was one of the

greatest results in history, with a PR of 3002. [72]

Chess statistician Jeff Sonas has declared it one of

the 20 best tournament performances of all time, and

the best chess performance of all time by a teenager.


In the Tal Memorial, played from 5 to 14 November,

Carlsen started with seven straight draws, but finished

with wins over Ruslan Ponomariov and Peter Leko.

This result put Carlsen in shared second place behind

Kramnik and equal with Ivanchuk. [74][75] After the

Tal Memorial, Carlsen won the World Blitz

Championship, played from 16 to 18 November in

Moscow, Russia. His score of 28 wins, 6 draws and 8

losses left him three points ahead of Anand, who

finished in second place. [76]

Carlsen at the World Blitz

Championship 2009

Carlsen entered the London Chess Classic as the top

seed in a field including Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura ,

Michael Adams, Nigel Short , Ni Hua, Luke McShane

and David Howell. He defeated Kramnik in round one

and went on to win the tournament with 13/21 (three

points were awarded for a win, and one for a draw;

using classical scoring he finished with 5/7) and a PR

of 2844, one point ahead of Kramnik. This victory

propelled him to the top of the FIDE rating list,

surpassing Veselin Topalov. [77]

Based on his average ranking from the July 2009 and

January 2010 FIDE lists, Carlsen qualified for the

Candidates Tournament that would determine the

challenger to World Champion Viswanathan Anand in

the World Chess Championship 2012. In November

2010, however, Carlsen announced he was withdrawing

from the Candidates Tournament. Carlsen described

the 2008–12 cycle as "[not] sufficiently modern and

fair", and wrote that "Reigning champion privileges,

the long (five year) span of the cycle, changes made

during the cycle resulting in a new format

(Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go

through since Kasparov, puzzling ranking criteria as

well as the shallow ceaseless match-after-match

concept are all less than satisfactory in my

opinion." [78]

In early 2009 Carlsen engaged former World

Champion Garry Kasparov as a personal trainer. [79]

In September their partnership was revealed to the

public by Norwegian newspapers. [80][81]

Responding to a question in an interview with Time

magazine in December 2009 regarding whether he

used computers when studying chess, Carlsen

explained that he does not use a chess set when

studying on his own. [82]

Carlsen won the Corus chess tournament played 16–

31 January with 8½ points. His ninth-round loss to

Kramnik ended a streak of 36 rated games

undefeated. [83] Carlsen appeared to struggle in the

last round against Fabiano Caruana , but saved a draw,

leaving him half a point ahead of Kramnik and Shirov.


In March it was announced that Carlsen had split from

Kasparov and would no longer use him as a trainer,

[85] although this was put into different context by

Carlsen himself in an interview with the German

magazine Der Spiegel, in which he stated that they

would remain in contact and he would continue to

attend training sessions with Kasparov. [86] In 2011,

Carlsen said: "Thanks to [Kasparov] I began to

understand a whole class of positions better. ...

Kasparov gave me a great deal of practical help." [87]

In 2012, when asked what he learnt from working with

Kasparov, Carlsen answered: "Complex positions. That

was the most important thing." [88]

Carlsen shared first place alongside Ivanchuk in the

Amber blindfold and rapid tournament. Scoring 6½/11

in the blindfold and 8/11 in the rapid, Carlsen

accumulated 14½ from a possible 22 points. [89] In

May it was revealed that Carlsen had helped Anand

prepare for the World Chess Championship 2010

against challenger Veselin Topalov, which Anand won

6½–5½ to retain the title. Carlsen had also helped

Anand prepare for the World Chess Championships in

2007 and 2008 . [90]

Carlsen played in the Bazna Kings Tournament in

Romania on 14–25 June. The tournament was a

double round robin involving Wang Yue, Boris Gelfand ,

former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov,

Teimour Radjabov, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu . He

finished with 7½/10 and a 2918 PR, winning the

tournament by two points ahead of Radjabov and

Gelfand. [91] Carlsen then played in a rapid

tournament 28–30 August at the Arctic Securities

Chess Stars tournament in Kristiansund, Norway. The

field featured World Champion Viswanathan Anand,

female world No. 1 Judit Polgár, and Jon Ludvig

Hammer . In the preliminary round robin, Carlsen

scored 3½/6 to qualify for the final, second behind

Anand. [92] In the final, Carlsen defeated Anand 1½–½

to win the championship. [93] Following this event,

Carlsen suffered setbacks in his next two

tournaments. In the 39th Chess Olympiad from 19

September to 4 October, he scored 4½/8, losing three

games, to Baadur Jobava , Michael Adams, and Sanan

Sjugirov ; these were his first losses with the black

pieces in more than a year. [94] His team, Norway,

finished 51st out of 149 teams. [95]

Carlsen's next tournament was the Grand Slam

Masters Final on 9–15 October, which he had

qualified for automatically by winning three of the

previous year's four Grand Slam chess events (2009

Nanjing Pearl Spring, 2010 Corus, 2010 Bazna Kings).

Along with Carlsen, the finals consisted of World

Champion Anand and the highest two scorers from the

preliminary stage held in Shanghai in September:

Kramnik and Shirov. [96][97] The average Elo of the

participants at the time was 2789, making the Grand

Slam Final the strongest chess tournament in history.

In the first round, Carlsen lost with black to Kramnik;

this was Carlsen's second consecutive loss to

Kramnik, and placed his hold on the world No. 1

ranking in serious jeopardy. In his second round,

Carlsen lost with the white pieces to Anand; this was

his first loss as White since January 2010. Carlsen

recovered somewhat in the latter part of the

tournament, achieving a win over Shirov, and finishing

with 2½/6. The tournament was won by Kramnik with

4/6. [98] Carlsen finished this tournament with a

rating of 2802, two points behind Anand at 2804 who

temporarily ended Carlsen's reign at world No. 1.

These setbacks called into question from some

whether Carlsen's activities outside chess, such as

modelling for G-Star Raw, were distracting him from

performing well at the chessboard. [99] Carlsen said he

did not believe there was a direct connection. [100]

Carlsen's next tournament was the Pearl Spring chess

tournament on 19–30 October in Nanjing, China,

against Anand, Topalov, Vugar Gashimov, Yue, and

Étienne Bacrot .[101] This was the only tournament in

2010 to feature Anand, Carlsen and Topalov, at the

time the top three players in the world, and was the

first tournament in history to feature three players

rated at least 2800. With early wins over Bacrot, Yue,

and Topalov with white, Carlsen took the early lead,

extending his winning streak with white in Nanjing to

eight. This streak was halted by a draw to Anand in

round seven, but in the penultimate round Carlsen

secured first place by defeating Topalov with black.

This was his second victory in the tournament over the

former world No. 1; his final score of 7/10 (with a PR

of 2903) was a full point ahead of runner-up Anand.


Carlsen at the 2010 London Chess


In the World Blitz Championship, held in Moscow on

16–18 November, Carlsen attempted to defend his

2009 title. With a score of 23½/38, he finished in third

place behind Radjabov and winner Levon Aronian.

[103] After the tournament, Carlsen played a private

40-game blitz match against Hikaru Nakamura, [104]

winning with a score of 23½–16½. [105]

Carlsen won the London Chess Classic on 8–15

December in a field comprising World Champion

Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Nakamura, and British

players Adams, Nigel Short, David Howell, and Luke

McShane. Carlsen had a rocky start, losing his games

to McShane and Anand in rounds 1 and 3, but winning

with white against Adams and Nakamura in rounds 2

and 4. He joined the lead with a win over Howell in

round 5, and managed to stay in the lead following a

harrowing draw against Kramnik in round 6, before

defeating Short in the last round. Since the tournament

was played with three points for a win, Carlsen's

+4−2=1 score put him ahead of Anand and McShane

who scored +2=5 (a more traditional two-points-for-

a-win system would have yielded a three-way tie, with

Carlsen still on top, having the better tiebreaker due to

four games with black—Anand and McShane played

only three times with black). [106]

Carlsen competed in the GM-A group of the Tata Steel

Chess (Corus) tournament on 14–30 January in Wijk

aan Zee in an attempt to defend his title; the field

included World Champion Viswanathan Anand, Levon

Aronian, former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik,

Alexander Grischuk, Hikaru Nakamura, and former

FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, among

others. Despite losing games with white against Anish

Giri and reigning Russian champion Ian

Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen finished with 8/13, including

victories over Kramnik and tournament winner

Nakamura. [107] Although Carlsen's performance

raised his rating from 2814 to 2815, Anand's 8½/13

score elevated his rating to 2817, making him the

world No. 1 for the March 2011 FIDE rating list. [108]

The first tournament victory of the year came in the

Bazna Kings tournament, a double round robin played

in Medias on 11–21 June. Carlsen finished with

6½/10, equal with Sergey Karjakin but with a better

tiebreak score. Carlsen won his White games against

Nakamura, Nisipeanu, and Ivanchuk and drew the rest

of the games. [109]

The Grand Slam Chess Final was held as a double

round robin with six players, in São Paulo (25

September–1 October) and Bilbao (5–11 October).

Although Carlsen had a slow start, including a loss

against bottom-ranked Vallejo Pons, he finished

+3−1=6, equal with Ivanchuk (whose +4−3=3 finish

was equal due to three points for a win). Carlsen then

won the blitz tiebreak against Ivanchuk. The other

players were Anand, Aronian, Nakamura, and Vallejo

Pons. [110]

Another tournament victory was achieved in the Tal

Memorial in Moscow 16–25 November as a round

robin with ten players. Carlsen won two games,

against Gelfand and Nakamura, and drew the rest.

Although he finished equal on points with Aronian, he

placed ahead since the tiebreak was determined by the

number of Black games; Carlsen had five Black games

while Aronian only had four. [111]

In the London Chess Classic, played 3–12 December,

Carlsen's streak of tournament victories ended when

he finished third, behind Kramnik and Nakamura.

Carlsen won three games and drew five. Although he

did not win the tournament, Carlsen gained rating

points, rising to a new personal record of 2835. [112]

Carlsen at the Tata Steel Chess

Tournament in 2012

At the Tata Steel Chess Tournament held 14–29

January in Wijk aan Zee, Carlsen finished in a shared

second place with 8/13, behind Aronian, and equal

with Radjabov and Caruana. Carlsen defeated

Gashimov, Aronian, Gelfand, and Topalov, but lost

against Karjakin. [113] At the Blitz chess tournament at

Tal Memorial, Moscow 7 June, Carlsen shared first

place with Morozevich. In the main event (a category

22 ten-player round robin), he won two games and

drew seven. He finished in first place, ahead of

Radjabov and Caruana. [114]

Carlsen then went on to finish second in the Biel

Grandmaster Tournament, with 18 points, just one

point behind Hao using the 3–1–0 scoring system. As

in the Tal Memorial earlier in 2012, Carlsen managed

to finish the tournament without any losses (+4−0=6).

He also defeated the winner Hao in both of their

individual games. In the exhibition blitz tournament at

Biel before the GM tournament, Carlsen was eliminated

(+1−2=0) in the first round by Étienne Bacrot. Bacrot

deprived Carlsen of a win in the classical tournament

by holding him to a draw in the final round. Carlsen

would have won the classical tournament on the

traditional 1–½–0 scoring system, with 7/10. [115]

The Grand Slam Chess Final was again held as a

double round robin with six players, in São Paulo and

Bilbao. Carlsen started with a loss against Caruana,

but after three wins in the second (Bilbao) round,

finished +4−1=5, equal first with Caruana, and ahead

of Aronian, Karjakin and Anand. Carlsen won the

tournament by winning both tiebreak games against

Caruana. [116]

From 24 to 25 November, Carlsen took part in the

chess festival Segunda Gran Fiesta Internacional de

Ajedrez in Mexico City. As part of it, Carlsen took on

an online audience (dubbed as "The World") with the

white pieces and won. He then took part in the

knockout exhibition event Cuadrangular UNAM.

Carlsen first beat Lázaro Bruzón 1½–½, thus

qualifying for a final against Judit Polgár (who had in

turn beat Manuel León Hoyos 1½–½). Carlsen lost the

first game, but won the second one, and in the tiebreak

defeated Polgár 2–0. [117][118]

Carlsen won the London Chess Classic in December

with five wins (over McShane, Aronian, Gawain Jones ,

Adams and Judit Polgár) and three draws (against

Kramnik, Nakamura and Anand). [119] This win, the

third time Carlsen had won the tournament in the past

four years, increased his rating from 2848 to a new

record of 2861, breaking Kasparov's 13-year record of

2851. [119][120] By rating performance, this was one

of the best results in history, with a PR of 2994. [121]

Carlsen in play during round seven at

Tata Steel in Wijk aan Zee, 2013

Carlsen played in the 75th Tata Steel Chess

Tournament from 11 to 27 January in Wijk aan Zee. In

the 13-round tournament, he scored 10 points

(+7−0=6), winning clear first 1½ points ahead of

second-place finisher Aronian. [122] On 1 February,

Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen joined the team of

assistants who helped Carlsen prepare for the

Candidates Tournament in March . Before this, Nielsen

was on Viswanathan Anand's team. [123]

Carlsen played in the 2013 Candidates Tournament,

which took place in London, from 15 March to 1 April.

He finished with +5−2=7, and won the tournament on

tiebreak over Vladimir Kramnik. As a result, he earned

the right to challenge Anand for the World Champion

title. [124]

In May, Carlsen played in the tournament Norway

Chess. He finished second, scoring 5½/9 (+3−1=5),

half a point behind Sergey Karjakin. [125]

Carlsen played in the Tal Memorial from June 12 to

June 23. He finished second, with 5½/9, half a point

behind Boris Gelfand. Carlsen ended the tournament

with +3−1=5, losing to Caruana but beating Anand,

Kramnik and Nakamura. [126] Later that month,

Carlsen played a four-game friendly rapid match

against Borki Predojević, which he won 2½–1½. [127]

In the Sinquefield Cup , held in September, Carlsen

finished first, scoring +3−0=3, a point ahead of

Nakamura. [128]

Carlsen faced Anand in the World Chess

Championship 2013 in Chennai , India, from 9 to 22

November. Carlsen won the match 6½–3½ by winning

games five, six and nine and drawing the remainder.

Thus, Carlsen became the new world chess champion.


1. Carlsen vs Anand {draw}

2. Anand vs Carlsen {draw}

3. Carlsen vs Anand {draw}

4. Anand vs Carlsen {draw}

5. Carlsen vs Anand {1-0}

6. Anand vs Carlsen {0-1}

7. Anand vs Carlsen {draw}

8. Carlsen vs Anand {draw}

9. Anand vs Carlsen {0-1}

10. Carlsen vs Anand {draw}

From 29 January to 4 February, Carlsen played in the

2014 Zurich Chess Challenge , winning the preliminary

blitz event (+2−1=2) and the classical event

(+3−0=2). He performed less well in the rapid event

(+1−2=2), which counted towards the overall

standings, but retained enough of a lead to win the

tournament. The other players in the event were

Aronian, Nakamura, Caruana, Gelfand and Anand. [130]

Carlsen played a game for his club Stavanger in the

final team match for promotion to the Norwegian

Premier League on 22 March. His win over Vladimir

Georgiev helped his team to a 3½–2½ win over

Nordstrand. [131]

Carlsen won the Shamkir Chess tournament at Şəmkir,

Azerbaijan , played from 20–30 April. He played in the

A group along with Caruana, Nakamura, Karjakin,

Mamedyarov and Radjabov. Carlsen started the

tournament with 2/2, beating Mamedyarov and

Nakamura. He then drew Karjakin, only to lose two

games in a row for the first time in four years, losing

to Caruana with black and then with white to

Radjabov. In the second half of the tournament,

Carlsen scored 4/5, beating Mamedyarov and

Nakamura again, and securing the tournament victory

by beating Caruana in the final round, finishing with

+5−2=3. [132]

On 8 May Carlsen played an exhibition game at Oslo

City against the people of Norway, assisted by a

grandmaster panel consisting of Simen Agdestein, Leif

Erlend Johannessen , and Jon Ludvig Hammer. Each of

the panel members proposed a move and the public

could then vote over the proposed moves. Each panel

member was allowed three chances to let chess

engine Houdini propose a move during the game.

Norway's moves were executed by Oddvar Brå who

was disguised in a red spandex suit for the occasion.

The game was drawn when Carlsen forced a perpetual

check. [133]

Carlsen placed second (to Sergey Karjakin) in the

2014 edition of Norway Chess, a ten-player round

robin, from 2 June to 13 June. Other players in the

event were Aronian, Caruana, Topalov, Svidler,

Kramnik, Grischuk, Giri and Agdestein. [134]

Carlsen won FIDE World Rapid Championships held in

Dubai from 16 June to 19 June. [135] He went on to

claim the World Blitz Championships two days later,

[136] becoming the first player to simultaneously hold

the title in all three FIDE rated time controls.

Carlsen played nine games for Norway in the 41st

Chess Olympiad , scoring five wins, two draws, and two

losses (against Arkadij Naiditsch and Ivan Šarić ). [137]

Carlsen placed second to Fabiano Caruana in the

Sinquefield Cup , a six-player double round robin in

Saint Louis, Missouri from 27 August to 7 September.

Billed as the strongest chess tournament ever held, the

remaining players in the event were Aronian,

Nakamura, Topalov, and Vachier-Lagrave. [138]

Carlsen faced Anand in a match for the title of World

Chess Champion in November 2014, as Anand

qualified by winning the 2014 Candidates Tournament .

The rematch was held from November 7 to 23 in

Sochi, Russia. After 11 of 12 games, Carlsen led 6.5–

4.5, thereby defending his World Champion title. [139]

1. Anand vs Carlsen draw

2. Carlsen vs Anand {1-0}

3. Anand vs Carlsen {1-0}

4. Carlsen vs Anand draw

5. Anand vs Carlsen draw

6. Carlsen vs Anand {1-0}

7. Anand vs Carlsen draw

8. Anand vs Carlsen draw

9. Carlsen vs Anand draw

10. Anand vs Carlsen draw

11. Carlsen vs Anand {1-0}

In January, Carlsen won the 2015 Tata Steel Chess

Tournament , which was played mainly in Wijk aan Zee

9–25 January. Carlsen had a poor start to the

tournament with two draws and a loss in the third

round to Radosław Wojtaszek, which left him in tenth

place among the fourteen players. However, a string of

six wins in a row thrust Carlsen into clear first place.

Drawing the final four games was sufficient to win the

tournament with 9 points out of 13, half a point ahead

of Anish Giri , Maxime Vachier-Lagrave , Wesley So and

Ding Liren . [140][141]

In February, Carlsen won the 3rd Grenke Chess Classic

after a five-game tiebreak with Arkadij Naiditsch . The

tournament was played in Baden-Baden 2–9 February.

[142] Carlsen finished equal with Naidistch on 4.5/7,

beating Michael Adams, Vishy Anand , and David

Baramidze, and losing to Naiditsch in their classical

encounter. This tournament victory meant that Carlsen

began 2015 by winning two out of two tournaments.


Carlsen won the Chess Oscars for 2009, 2010, 2011

and 2012. The Chess Oscar, conducted by the Russian

chess magazine 64 , is awarded to the year's best

player according to a worldwide poll of leading chess

critics, writers, and journalists. [143][144] The

Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang (VG) has awarded

him "Name of the Year" ( Årets navn ) twice, in

2009 [145] and 2013. [146] VG also named him

"Sportsman of the year" in 2009 [147] and in the same

year he won the Folkets Idrettspris , a people's choice

award from the newspaper Dagbladet . [148] In 2011,

he was given the Peer Gynt Prize , a Norwegian honour

prize awarded annually to "a person or institution that

has achieved distinction in society"; [149] the following

year, he repeated as winner of Folkets Idrettspris . [150]

In 2013, Time magazine named Carlsen one of the 100

most influential people in the world. [151]

Playing style

Carlsen had an aggressive style of play as a youth,

[152][153] and, according to Agdestein, his play was

characterised by "a fearless readiness to offer

material for activity". [154] Carlsen found as he

matured that this risky playing style was not as well

suited against the world elite. When he started playing

in top tournaments he was struggling against top

players, and had trouble getting much out of the

opening. To progress, Carlsen's style became more

universal, capable of handling all sorts of positions

well. Carlsen opens with both 1.d4 and 1.e4 , as well

as 1.c4 , and, on occasion, 1.Nf3 , thus making it

harder for opponents to prepare against him. [155]

[156] Evgeny Sveshnikov has criticised Carlsen's

opening play, claiming in a 2013 interview that

without a more "scientific" approach to preparation,

his "future doesn't look so promising". [157]

Garry Kasparov, who coached Carlsen from 2009 to

2010, said that Carlsen has a positional style similar

to that of past world champions such as Anatoly

Karpov, José Raúl Capablanca, and Vasily Smyslov ,

rather than the tactical style of Alexander Alekhine ,

Mikhail Tal, and Kasparov himself. [159] According to

Carlsen, however, he does not have any preferences in

playing style. [87] Kasparov said in 2013 that "Carlsen

is a combination of Karpov [and] Fischer. He gets his

positions [and] then never lets go of that bulldog bite.

Exhausting for opponents." [160] Carlsen has also

stated that he follows in the traditions of Karpov and

Fischer, but also mentions Reuben Fine as a player

who "was doing in chess similar to what I am

doing." [161] Anand has said of Carlsen: "The majority

of ideas occur to him absolutely naturally. He's also

very flexible, he knows all the structures and he can

play almost any position. ... Magnus can literally do

almost everything." [162] Kasparov expressed similar

sentiments: "[Carlsen] has the ability to correctly

evaluate any position, which only Karpov could boast

of before him." [163] In a 2012 interview, Vladimir

Kramnik attributed much of Carlsen's success against

other top players to his "excellent physical shape" and

his ability to avoid "psychological lapses", which

enables him to maintain a high standard of play over

long games and at the end of tournaments, when the

energy levels of others have dropped. [164] Tyler

Cowen gave an interesting point of view on Carlsen's

playing style "Carlsen is demonstrating one of his

most feared qualities, namely his “nettlesomeness,” to

use a term coined for this purpose by Ken Regan.

Using computer analysis, you can measure which

players do the most to cause their opponents to make

mistakes. Carlsen has the highest nettlesomeness

score by this metric, because his creative moves

pressure the other player and open up a lot of room

for mistakes. In contrast, a player such as Kramnik

plays a high percentage of very accurate moves, and

of course he is very strong, but those moves are in

some way calmer and they are less likely to induce

mistakes in response." [165]

Carlsen's endgame prowess has been described as

among the greatest in history. [166][167][168][169]

Jon Speelman , analysing several of Carlsen's

endgames from the 2012 London Classic (in

particular, his wins against McShane, Aronian, and

Adams), described what he calls the "Carlsen effect":


In the January 2006 FIDE list, at the age of 15 years,

32 days, he attained a 2625 Elo rating , which made

Carlsen the youngest person to surpass 2600 Elo (the

record has since been broken by Wei Yi at the age of

14 years, four months, and 30 days). [171] In the July

2007 FIDE list, at the age of 16 years, 213 days,

Carlsen attained a 2710 Elo rating, which made him

the youngest person to surpass 2700 Elo. [172] On 5

September 2008, after winning round 4 in the Bilbao

Grand Slam chess championship, Carlsen, just 17

years, 280 days old, briefly became No. 1 on the

unofficial live ratings list. [173][174] Carlsen's

September–October 2009 victory in the Nanjing Pearl

tournament raised his FIDE rating to 2801, making

him at age 18 years, 336 days, the youngest player

ever to break 2800. [72] The youngest before him was

Vladimir Kramnik at age 25. [175] Before Carlsen, only

Kasparov, Topalov, Kramnik, and Anand had achieved

a 2800+ rating. [176] After the Tal Memorial

(November 2009) he became No. 1 on the unofficial

live chess rating list with his new peak rating of

2805.7, 0.6 point over the No. 2 ranked player, Veselin

Topalov. [177]

The FIDE rankings from January 2010, which took into

account the 16 games played at the Tal Memorial and

the London Chess Classic, were enough to raise

Carlsen's rating to 2810. [178] This meant that Carlsen

started 2010 by being, at the age of 19 years, 32 days,

the youngest ever world No. 1, and also the first

player from a Western nation to reach the top of the

FIDE rating list since Bobby Fischer in 1971. [179][180]

The press coverage of this feat included an interview

and article in Time magazine. [82][181]

The March 2010 FIDE rating list showed Carlsen with

a new peak rating of 2813, a figure that only Kasparov

had bettered at that time. [85] On the January 2013

FIDE rating list, Carlsen reached 2861, thus surpassing

Garry Kasparov's 2851 record from July 1999. [119]

[120] On list from May 2014, Carlsen achieved an all

time high record of 2882. [182]

Head-to-head record versus selected


(Rapid, blitz and blindfold games not included; listed

as +wins −losses =draws as of 6 February 2015.)


Players who have been World Champion in boldface





an Anand




























a +1−1=2
























ov +3−1=6






h +3−0=8



















v +2−1=3


















ky +0−0=1









van Wely





Sortable record list

Name Win






Overall scoring

percentage (%)


Adams 7 1 4 75


Alekseev 0 2 7 38.89


Anand 10 7 35 52.88

Levon Aronian 10 4 28 57.14

Étienne Bacrot 3 0 7 65

Ferenc Berkes 0 1 0 0

Lázaro Bruzón 1 1 1 50


Caruana 5 4 7 53.13


Domínguez 5 0 5 75


Gashimov 1 0 3 62.5

Boris Gelfand 5 1 9 63.33

Anish Giri 0 1 5 41.67


Grischuk 2 0 8 60

Wang Hao 3 2 1 58.33


Harikrishna 1 1 2 50


Ivanchuk 8 3 14 60


Jakovenko 4 0 2 83.33

Baadur Jobava 1 2 2 40

Gata Kamsky 3 2 6 54.55


Karjakin 3 1 14 55.56


Kramnik 4 4 13 50

Peter Leko 2 3 10 46.67


Malakhov 0 0 4 50


Mamedyarov 3 1 6 60

Luke McShane 3 1 3 64.29


Morozevich 3 0 8 63.64


Movsesian 0 1 2 33.33


Naiditsch 3 1 7 59.09


Nakamura 11 0 16 70.37

David Navara 1 1 3 50




0 3 1 12.5

Judit Polgár 2 0 1 83.33


Ponomariov 2 1 3 58.33


Radjabov 9 2 18 62.07


Sasikiran 0 0 3 50

Alexei Shirov 6 2 8 62.5

Nigel Short 2 0 3 70

Sanan Sjugirov 0 1 0 0

Peter Svidler 1 2 10 46.15


Tomashevsky 0 0 1 50


Topalov 8 3 8 63.16




2 1 4 57.14

Loek van Wely 5 2 5 62.5


Volokitin 0 4 2 16.67

Notable games

All links in this section lead to an external site.

Carlsen–Garry Kasparov, Reykjavík Rapid (2004),

Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs

Variation (D52), ½–½ At the age of just 13 years,

Carlsen had serious winning chances in a rapid game

against Garry Kasparov, [23] ranked No. 1 in the world

at that time, [184] and considered by many to be the

greatest chess player of all time. [185]

Carlsen–Veselin Topalov, M-Tel Masters (2009),

Semi-Slav Defense: General (D43), 1–0 This was

Carlsen's first win against a 2800+ player. [186]

Carlsen–Boris Gelfand, Tal Memorial (2011), Slav

Defense: Quiet Variation. Schallopp Defense (D12), 1–

0 The No. 1 Israeli player and future World

Championship challenger creates a seemingly decisive

rook invasion into White's back rank , but Carlsen

vanquishes his threats. Carlsen called it "one of the

most interesting games I have played in recent times".


Carlsen–Hikaru Nakamura, London Chess Classic

(2011), Italian Game: Classical Variation. Giuoco

Pianissimo (C53), 1–0 Facing the No. 1 American

player, Carlsen demolishes Black's pawn structure .

Carlsen–Viswanathan Anand, Bilbao Masters

(2012), Sicilian Defense: Canal Attack. Main Line

(B52), 1–0 Playing against the then World

Champion in a game he considers one of the best in

his career,[188] Carlsen sacrifices a pawn to leave

Black with a cramped position, leading to his

resignation at move 30.

Carlsen's complete PGN chess game collection can be

downloaded from [1]

Beyond chess

Carlsen modelled for G-Star Raw 's Autumn/Winter

2010 advertising campaign with actress Liv Tyler. The

campaign was shot by Dutch film director and

photographer Anton Corbijn . [189] The campaign was

coordinated with the RAW World Chess Challenge in

New York, an event where Carlsen played an online

team of global chess players who voted on moves

suggested by three GMs: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave,

Hikaru Nakamura, and Judit Polgár. Carlsen, playing

White, won in 43 moves. [190] Film director J. J.

Abrams offered Carlsen a role in the movie Star Trek

Into Darkness as "a chess player from the future", but

he had to decline, unable to get a US work permit in

time for shooting. [191] In 2012, Carlsen was featured

in a 60 Minutes segment,[192] and appeared as a

guest on The Colbert Report. [193] He was also

interviewed by Rainn Wilson for SoulPancake . [194]

Carlsen was selected as one of the "sexiest men of

2013" by Cosmopolitan . [195] In August 2013, Carlsen

became an ambassador for Nordic Semiconductor.


As of 2012, Carlsen is the only active chess

professional with a full-time manager . Espen

Agdestein, brother of Carlsen's former trainer Simen,

and a FIDE Master[197] and twice member of the

Norwegian team at the Chess Olympiads, began

working as an agent for Carlsen in late 2008. His work

consisted initially of finding sponsors and negotiating

media contacts, but since 2011, he has taken over

management tasks formerly performed by Carlsen's

father Henrik. [198] Carlsen reportedly earned roughly

US$1.2 million in 2012, the bulk of which was from

sponsorships. [199]

In October 2013, Carlsen started his majority-owned

company, Play Magnus AS. Based in Oslo, Norway,

Play Magnus' first product is an iOS app that allows a

user to play a Magnus Carlsen-tuned chess engine at

19 different ages (from ages 5 to 23). The chess

engine was created using a database of thousands of

Carlsen's recorded games from the age of 10.

Carlsen's goal is to use Play Magnus as a platform to

encourage more people to play chess. [200]

In December 2013, Carlsen publicly denied having a

form of autism spectrum disorder in an interview with

Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang, amid persistent

speculation. He went on to clarify his earlier response

in 2008 during a Q&A session with Nettavisen , during

which he replied, "yes, isn't it obvious?" [201] He went

on to say that he considers himself to have "normal

social skills and to be functioning normally." [202]

In February 2014, Carlsen appeared in G-Star Raw's

Spring/Summer 2014 campaign along with actress

and model Lily Cole .[203]

Books and films

Valaker, O; Carlsen, M. (2004). Lær sjakk med

Magnus [Learn Chess with Magnus] . Gyldendal Norsk

Forlag . ISBN 978-82-05-33963-7 .

The Prince of Chess, a film about Magnus Carlsen

(2005). Directed by Øyvind Asbjørnsen . [204]

Opedal, Hallgeir (2011). Smarte trekk. Magnus

Carlsen: Verdens beste sjakkspiller [Smart Moves.

Magnus Carlsen: The World's Best Chess Player] .

Kagge. ISBN 978-82-489-1050-3

Mikhalchishin, Adrian; Stetsko, Oleg. (2012).

Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen (Progress in

Chess) . Edition Olms. ISBN 978-3-283-01020-1 .

Crouch, Colin (2013). Magnus Force: How Carlsen

Beat Kasparov's Record. Everyman Chess. ISBN

978-1-78194-133-1 .

Kotronias, Vassilios & Logothetis, Sotiris (2013).

Carlsen's assault on the throne . Quality Chess. ISBN

978-1-906552-22-0 .