Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen

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World Chess Champion


Magnus Carlsen (Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen), a Norwegian chess Grandmaster and currently ranked number one in the world, was born on 30 November 1990 in Tønsberg, Norway and lives in Lommedalen near Oslo. Carlsen started playing chess tournaments when he was eight and later he was coached at a Norwegian high school for athletes by Grandmaster Simen Agdestein. Agdestein introduced his civil worker Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen to Carlsen, and they had regular training sessions. Becoming an International Master in 2003, Carlsen was given a year off from elementary school to participate in international chess tournaments during the fall season of 2003.


Carlsen was brought to the attention of the international chess world after his victory in the C group at the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee 2004. As a result of the victory, he took his first Grandmaster norm. Particularly notable was his win over Sipke Ernst in the penultimate round, when Carlsen sacrificed material to mate him later. Carlsen’s victory in the C group led Grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek, writing for the Washington Post, to give him the title “Mozart of chess”.

Carlsen obtained his second GM norm in the Moscow Aeroflot Open in February 2004. In a blitz chess tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland, Carlsen defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov on 17 March 2004. The blitz tournament was a preliminary event leading up to a rapid knockout tournament beginning the next day, where Carlsen achieved one draw against Garry Kasparov, who was then the top-rated player in the world, before losing to Kasparov after 32 moves of the second game, thus being knocked out of the tournament.

In the sixth Dubai Open Chess Championship April 2004, Carlsen obtained his third Grandmaster norm and became a Grandmaster on 26 April 2004. As a result of this he was at the time the world’s youngest Grandmaster and the second youngest person ever to hold GM status, after Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine.

In the 2006 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen was close to winning outright, but a last round loss to Berge Østenstad tied him for first place with Agdestein. The last-round loss deprived Magnus of beating Agdestein’s record of becoming the youngest Norwegian champion ever. However, in the play-off a few weeks later Carlsen won the title for the first time.

In the prestigious Linares chess tournament 2007, which many consider to be the “the Wimbledon of chess”, Carlsen met the following top-rated players: Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian, Peter Leko, and Vassily Ivanchuk. With the significantly lowest Elo rating, he achieved a second place and an Elo performance of 2778.

In August 2007, he won the International Chess Festival Biel Grandmaster Tournament and became the youngest person ever to win a category 18 tournament. Immediately after the Biel tournament, Carlsen entered the open Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, but his fourth place result was somewhat disappointing. In the first round, Carlsen surprisingly conceded a draw to his classmate Brede Hagen (rated 2034) after having a lost position at one point. A game which attracted some attention was his sixth round win over his own father Henrik Carlsen.

Playing for the second time in the top group A of the Corus chess tournament 2008, Carlsen showed a big improvement over his 2007 performance. His final score was eight points in 13 rounds, an Elo performance of 2830. Carlsen scored five wins (including as Black against former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik), two losses and six draws. He shared first place with Levon Aronian, becoming the youngest person ever to win a category 20 tournament.


In 2009 Carlsen won the category 21 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament, 2.5 points ahead of second-place finisher Topalov, the world’s highest-rated player at the time. He scored 8/10 and this was described as one of the greatest tournament results in history with a performance of 3002.

In November Carlsen went on to win the 2009 World Blitz Championship in Moscow and after that tournament Carlsen entered the 2009 London Chess Classic as the top seed in a field including former world champion Vladimir Kramnik. He defeated Kramnik in round one in a positional game and went on to win the tournament. This victory has propelled him to the top of the FIDE rating list, surpassing Veselin Topalov.

In early 2009 Carlsen engaged former world champion Garry Kasparov as a personal trainer. In September 2009 their partnership was confirmed in Norwegian newspapers. The cooperation with Kasparov officially ended March 2010. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel Carlsen stated that they would still remain in contact and that he would continue to attend training sessions with Kasparov.

Later that year Carlsen won the Corus chess tournament, the Amber 2010 tournament, the Bazna Kings Tournament and Nanjing 2010 event. In May 2010 it was revealed that Carlsen had aided Viswanathan Anand in preparation for the World Chess Championship 2007, 2008 and 2010. Carlsen won the 2010 London Chess Classic from December 8 to 15 in a field including the world champion Viswanathan Anand and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.




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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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). 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. By rating performance, this was one of the best results in history, with a PR of 2994.



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. On 1 February, Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen joined the team of assistants who helped Carlsen prepare for the Candidates Tournament in March 2013. Before this, Nielsen was on Viswanathan Anand’s team.

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.

In May, Carlsen played in the tournament Norway Chess. He finished second, scoring 5½/9 (+3−1=5), half a point behind Sergey Karjakin.

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. Later that month, Carlsen played a four-game friendly rapid match against Borki Predojević, which he won 2½–1½.

In the Sinquefield Cup, held in September, Carlsen finished first, scoring +3−0=3, a point ahead of Nakamura.

World Chess Championship 2013

Main article: World Chess Championship 2013

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}

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  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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Carlsen won FIDE World Rapid Championships held in Dubai from 16 June to 19 June. He went on to claim the World Blitz Championships two days later, 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).

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.

World Chess Championship 2014

Main article: World Chess Championship 2014

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.


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