Who Is Magnus Carlsen's Secret Second? (UPDATE)

Who Is Magnus Carlsen's Secret Second? (UPDATE)

| 109 | Chess Players

“People are too inconsistent, but I don’t understand why,” said GM Magnus Carlsen yesterday in an interview with NRK. He still did not want to reveal his new second — a 2700 player who...plays decent basketball. 

A press conference was held on Thursday in Oslo, Norway where Magnus Carlsen and his manager Espen Agdestein addressed Norwegian media. Several topics were discussed, such as the Play Magnus event on May 5 in New York, where the world champ will play winners from the contest held through his app.

Furthermore, cooperation between SAS airlines and Play Magnus was announced: passengers on intercontinental flights will be able to use the app via the on-board wifi, and in the future the app will be integrated in the SAS entertainment system.

About Shamkir, Carlsen said: 

“Usually I like to complain even though I win, but this time it was good. I felt really, really calm and relaxed. It turned out really great from start to finish.

“We had a training camp in Qatar with basically the same gang, and it worked out well. We played a little bit of blitz, and usually I get beat in training camps, but this time I was the boss.

“It’s hard to rank it, but I felt there wasn’t much I could have done better, so that was special. I have had a few tournaments that have had even better percentage-wise, but the opposition was even stronger. Nanjing 2009 is still my best tournament, though.”

Carlsen during the last round in Shamkir.


Carlsen already had a side-career as a model for G-Star, and soon he will add another job to his CV: that of chess commentator. During the EnterCard ChessQualifier, where the winner will qualify for the Norway Chess tournament, he will commentate for TV2 together with Kaja Marie Snare, Hans Olav Lahlum and GM Espen Lie.

The event will take place May 10-15. The fight will be between GM Simen Agdestein, GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, IM Aryan Tari, GM Laurent Fressinet, GM Curt Hansen and GM Nils Grandelius. The commentary will be provided from a glass cube in front of the Karl Johans gate in Oslo.

“It will probably be the first time a world champ comments on an entire tournament,” said manager Espen Agdestein.

In 1940 Botvinnik did it, but he wasn’t world champion at the time,” said Carlsen. “I like to speak about chess as well as playing. I have to warn the players — they will not be safe from my comments!”

“They will not be safe from my comments!” | Image courtesy of NRK.

NRK interview

After the press conference, Mads Støstad of NRK interviewed Carlsen separately. With permission, we cross-post parts of it:

NRK: Who was with you at your training camp [in Qatar, before the Shamkir Chess tournament - PD]?

MC: (laughs) It was Peter Heine, Fressinet and one more. He was pretty good at basketball, actually. I have a video of me beating him one-on-one, so he can’t be that good! 

NRK: How good of a chess player is he? 

MC: He is a very good chess player. Over 2700.

NRK: Why can’t you tell us who he is?

MC: It might be someone I’m going to work with in the future, so it’s fair to keep it secret.

NRK: A chess player needs his secrets?

MC: Yes, hehe, you can’t tell your opponents everything.

A chess player needs his secrets! | Image courtesy of NRK.

NRK: What does it mean to you to be cruising on top of the rating list?

MC: It might not be very exciting for others, but for me it’s good to see that I can play on a clearly higher level than my opponents. So that’s nice.

NRK: Why are your contenders so far behind?

MC: I don’t know. I have been thinking for years that someone is going to stabilize well above 2800, but it hasn’t happened. People are too inconsistent, but I don’t understand why. Caruana, for instance, played very badly at the start of Shamkir, and in the second half he was very good. Anand will probably wonder why he isn’t playing like that all the time. So it’s hard to say.

NRK: Do you wish you had a clearer rival?

MC: Sometimes I get almost disappointed that my competitors…I mean, pull yourself together. But I know they can still give me great problems in single games, but I think it’s weird that they’re not more consistent, because I know there are others than me who have skills.

“I think it's weird that they’re not more consistent.” | Image courtesy of NRK.

Below you find all 2700+ players, without the already-mentioned GM Laurent Fressinet:

Anand, Caruana, Nakamura, Topalov, Grischuk, So, Kramnik, Giri, Aronian, Ding Liren, Vachier-Lagrave, Karjakin, Navara, Tomashevsky, Li Chao, Wojtaszek, Gelfand, Adams, Jakovenko, Radjabov, Vitiugov, Mamedyarov, Dominguez, Svidler, Harikrishna, Ivanchuk, Nepomniachtchi, Wang Yue, Yu Yangyi, Andreikin, Naiditsch, Wei Yi, Eljanov, Kasimdzhanov, Leko, Ponomariov, Morozevich, Wang Hao, Korobov, Moiseenko, Bacrot, Malakhov, Ni Hua, Almasi, Kryvoruchko.

Who do you think is Carlsen's new second? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Update 3 May 2015:

Carlsen's new second seems to be GM Ding Liren of China. In the comments below you can find some strong evidence, and meanwhile the Facebook page of the Grand Chess Tour posted the following:

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