New Carlsen biography published: reports in Norwegian media

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"Get me out of this" was how Magnus Carlsen told his father Henrik that he wanted to stop working with Garry Kasparov, after the Corus Chess Tournament in eary 2010. This is written in a new biography about Carlsen which was published last week in Norway and mentioned in all the major Norwegian newspapers.

The book is called Smarte trekk. Magnus Carlsen ('Smart move. Magnus Carlsen') and was published on September 16th, 2011 by Kagge Forlag. It is the third book about Carlsen, after Simen Agdestein's biography from seven years ago, and Arne Danielsen's biographical chess novel that focuses on Carlsen.

For Smarte trekk, daily newspaper journalist  Hallgeir Opedal followed Carlsen for a year,

from Oslo to Kristiansund, and on to Berlin, New York, London, Wijk Aan Zee and Monaco. It is a book about money, sponsors, tactics, politics, the ups and downs, and especially working with Garry Kasparov. The reader gets a broad insight into a strange world of chess, genius and madness.

according to the back cover of the book. There it's also written that Carlsen liked the idea of a book, but didn't want to be shown as a genius.

'I do not want clichés.' 'Like 'the Mozart of chess?' asked the author, and Carlsen said: 'Yes, things like that.'

All the major Norwegian newspapers were present at the book launch on September 16th and below we'll give an overview of their reports.

Aftenposten
One of the newspapers that spoke with Carlsen at the book launch was Aftenposten. Their journalist got the impression that Opedal has struggled to get access to the main source.

It's OK. It was supposed to be a reporting book, but it's become a portrait.

Carlsen said to Aftenposten.

We gave him lots of artistic freedom.

said Espen Agdestein, the brother of GM Simen Agdestein and the manager of Carlsen.

Arguably the most interesting part of the book deals with the short-lived cooperation between Carlsen and Garry Kasparov, which started in the summer of 2009 and ended about half a year later.

He would control slightly more than I thought was right.

Carlsen said to the Aftenposten reporter.



Nettavisen
The newspaper Nettavisen provided more details about the Kasparov section. Apparently the first signs of a problematic cooperation appeared during Carlsen's highly successful Nanjing 2009 tournament. Carlsen:

There the cooperation went perfectly, and there was a reason: He was in the U.S., and I was twelve time zones away. We talked in the evenings and as I was sleeping, he worked all day. And when I awoke, I would find a file by e-mail with his comments...

But Carlsen 'dropped the phone calls' because these

really just made me uncomfortable.

Nettavisen points out that "Kasparov was a strict coach, shaped by iron Russian discipline and determination. He didn’t hesitate to swing the axe if his student played poorly." writes the newspaper. Carlsen, on the other hand, was used to do everthing by himself. "The Norwegian shuns conflict and speaks as little as possible, while the Russian loves trouble and his own voice."

After a crucial loss in the Corus tournament in January 2010, it went completely wrong. As Nettavisen writes, Kasparov had invested extra time and prestige in Magnus' duel against Vladimir Kramnik.

Kasparov had been able to pump me up.

said Carlsen.

I would not only win the game, but also crush the ego of Kramnik.

Before the game the young Norwegian had updated his Facebook status to:

Magnus Carlsen is going to crush Kramnik like a bug.

However, after Carlsen lost all this had an embarrassing defeat and there was scorn and laughter in the community. According to the book, Carlsen deleted 4,000 Facebook friends a few weeks later.

Get me out of this!

Magnus said to his father Henrik a few weeks after the tournament. The cooperation with Kasparov had resulted in too much pressure. At first Kasparov was "furious, terribly upset", according to the book, but later the 13th World Champion would admit that he had put Carlsen under too much pressure. In the mean time the relationship between Carlsen and Kasparov has normalized.

It's decent. I have no problem talking to him.

said Carlsen.

VG
VG, the biggest Norwegian newspaper, focused on the part of the book about Carlsen's fashion deal with G-Star, which started early 2010 and runs until the end of this year. The book reveals that after contracting Liv Tyler, G-Star was trying for long to set a deal with "a Hollywood actor, who was, although nobody will confirm it, Johnny Depp". When G-Star CEO Jos van Tilburg saw a six-page interview with Magnus Carlsen in the left-leaning Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, he suggested him for the campaign. In the article, Carlsen was compared to another Hollywood star - Matt Damon, who is also know for his high intelligence.

I have at least avoided that the model job became a total disaster.

Carlsen said to VG. The newspaper also spoke with the author and asked him if he knew Magnus Carlsen after following him for a year.

I absolutely feel that I know him. He keeps cards close to chest, and often has a stony face. But for example at Facebook I get the impression of another person, one that is very social and has humor.

Dagbladed
The newspaper Dagbladet also focuses on Kasparov and G-Star, but adds a paragraph about love letters. "The G-Star campaign has led to increased attention. Among other things he's been stopped by the Danish girls who knew him." To Dagbladet, Carlsen smiled, and said about this:

There was some fun, of course. I don't have a girlfriend but I have received both fan love letters.

He said he responded to some, according to Dagbladet.

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