Person of day   -  30 NOVEMBER 2020

MAGNUS CARLSEN

MAGNUS CARLSEN

The future world champion was born in the little Norwegian town of Tønsberg on 30th November 1990. Magnus was born into a large family, whose father, engineer Henrik Carlsen was an ardent lover of chess, with an Elo rating of 2100.

Henrik always dreamed of teaching his children chess, but his first attempt to interest the five-year-old Magnus and his sisters was not met with success- the children didn’t like the game. When Carlsen-senior tried teaching them for a second time, Magnus was 8. This time, the children warmed to the game, but Magnus began to outplay his sister Hellen with such speed, that she gave up training.  

Only one year after his first lesson, Magnus defeated his father in rapid chess. At around this time, his first trainer was hired- the master Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen. Soon, he began to demonstrate astonishing performances, and since then the Norwegian’s whole life has been connected to chess. The young man was sponsored by Microsoft and from Hansen he went into the arms of the Norwegian leader Simen Agdestein.

On 16th April 2004, he became a grandmaster, completing one of the requirements in the “Aeroflot Open”, one of the hardest tournaments in the world. At the same time, he caught the interest of Garry Kasparov, who would later become his mentor: he would carry out several training sessions, translate his experience and guide his mentee to the rating mark 2826- the second highest in chess history. After these lessons, Carlsen and Kasparov would halt their cooperation; Carlsen’s results would deteriorate, but not considerably.

In 2006, Carlsen became the champion of Norway, and in 2007 he won his first large international tournament in Biel. After this, the Norwegian’s successes would begin to accumulate: one can remember the victories in Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Moscow, Nanking, London, Medias. The young grandmaster quickly accustomed his supporters to the fact that any place other than first for him constitutes failure. 

In 2010, Carlsen became the winner of the chess “Oscar” for the first time and since then chess journalist have awarded this prestigious trophy to him on an annual basis. In 2012, the Norwegian won the Tal Memorial, the final of the Grand Slam and the super tournament in London. In 2013, he won the main event in Wijk aan Zee. He broke Garry Kasparov’s Elo record of 2851, which held on for 13 years. Magnus Carlsen’s maximum rating reached the fantastic mark of 2882 in May 2014.

In the Candidates Tournament in London in 2013, Magnus Carlsen surpassed Vladimir Kramnik in a dramatic contest and won the right to battle against the world champion Vishy Anand. In the match for the crown, held in Chennai (India), Magnus Carlsen celebrated a confident victory (out of 12 games, only 10 needed to be played out) and became a new world champion.

His legion of supporters in the West continues to grow. As well as chess news outlets, the world’s largest newspapers and magazines write about him. He is unbelievably popular for a chess player; the young star has a large advertising contract with a firm that produces youth clothes, as well as other large companies.

2014 brought Magnus new victories in super tournaments in Zurich (Switzerland), Shamkir (Azerbaijan), and two champions’ titles in Dubai (OAE). Magnus Carlsen became the first “tripartite world champion” of classical, rapid and blitz chess.

In November 2014, Magnus Carlsen won a second match against Vishy Anand with a score of 6,5:4,5 (+3-1 =7) and defended his title of world champion in classical chess.

In 2015, the world champion won tournaments in Wijk aan Zee, Baden-Baden and the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shmkir, but he then shocked his followers in the start of the Grand Chess Tour series- in Stavanger, Magnus took an unheard-of 3,5 points out of 9. In the second event of the GCT between the world’s strongest chess players in St Louis, the Norwegian performed better, but eventually split 2nd-5th places with a modest “+1”. At last, in final of the rapid chess world championship in Berlin, Carlsen showed his mighty strength and won the minor crown with a difference of one point with his rivals, but finished fourth in the blitz. On the Internet, videos which show the absolute world champion nervous and gesticulating in anticipation of losing the blitz crown have gained huge popularity.   

In the European team championship of 2015, the Norwegian leader carelessly lost a pawn to Swiss grandmaster Yannick Pelletier, lost to Levon Aronian, drew several dour matches and only thanks to titanic efforts made into the eventual 50. His rating dropped to 2834 but, speaking to media, Magnus Carlsen promised to return to his previous level before the upcoming battle with the winner of the Candidates Tournament.

And so, at the end of 2015, Carlsen won in London and Doha and, in 2016, he won in Wijk aan Zee, Stavanger, Leuven (Grand Chess Tour) and Bilbao- in the last tournament he, playing with the white pieces, thrashed the candidate Sergey Karjakin. However, in the match in New York, the Russian grandmaster put up the most determined resistance: the main match of 12 games with classical control ended in a 6:6 draw, and only ontie-break (which happened on his 26th birthday) did Magnus Carlsen defend his title.

2017 was not the most extraordinary in Carlsen’s career; in tournaments in Holland, Germany and USA he came 2nd, and, at home in Norway, he came 9th out of 10. In September, Magnus took part in the World Cup in Tbilisi (the first time a world champion participated in the start of this competition!), but he lost to Bu Xiangzhi. Statisticians counted that Carlsen did not win first place in a tournament with classical time control for 435 days; however, on 1st October 2017, he ended this drought, decisively winning a strong Open on the Isle of Man. Magnus Carlsen won 7,5 points out of 9 (+6=3), and overtook H. Nakamura and V. Anand by half a point, while demonstrating a performance-rating of 2903. 

In January 2018, Carlsen won the super tournament in Wijk aan Zee for the 6th time having outplayed Anish Giri on tie-break. He also became the winner of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir and split 1-3 places with Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian in Saint Louis. In November 18, Magnus once again defended his World Champion's title: all 12 regular games of his match against Fabiano Caruana were drawn, but the champion defeated his opponent 3-0 on tie-break. At the year's end, he won the World Blitz Championship.  

2019 was quite successful for Carlsen: he won the super tournaments in Wijk aan Zee, Shamkir, Zagreb, as well as GRENKE Chess Classic and Altibox Norway Chess, and became the winner of several rapid and blitz events. On November 8, 2019, Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the Norwegian Chess Federation, but the consequences of that decision are still not clear. 

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world champion organised a series of online tournaments named after him and defeated Hikaru Nakamura in its final. Then the Norwegian won the first OTB super tournaments in Stavanger. His 30th birthday Magnus Carlsen is celebrating by playing in his new tournament - the Skilling Open, the first event of the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour on Chess24.com.