Magnus √ėen Carlsen (born
Sven Magnus √ėen Carlsen on 30 November 1990) is a
Norwegian chess Grandmaster and chess prodigy.
On 26 April 2004 Carlsen became a Grandmaster at the age of 13
years, 4 months, and 27 days, making him the third youngest
in history. Carlsen has since become one of the
world's leading players. His performance at the September-October 2009
Spring tournament was described as one of the greatest in
history, and lifted him to an Elo rating
of 2801, second in the world.
He is the fifth player, and at
age 18 is by far the youngest, to achieve a rating over 2800. He is
also the 2009 World Blitz chess
champion, the youngest in history.
In 2004 The Washington Post
dubbed him the "Mozart of
T√łnsberg, Vestfold, Magnus Carlsen currently lives in
Lommedalen, B√¶rum, near
Norway's capital, Oslo.
played his first chess tournament at the age of eight and was later
coached at a Norwegian high school (for athletes) by the country's
top player, Grandmaster
(GM) Simen Agdestein
introduced his civil worker Torbj√łrn Ringdal Hansen, currently an
Carlsen, and they had one training session every week, along with
one of Carlsen's close friends. Becoming an International Master
, Carlsen was given
a year off from elementary school to participate in international
chess tournaments during the fall season of 2003. In that same
year, he finished third in the European Under-12 Boys
- Carlsen was brought to the attention of the
international chess world after his victory in the C group at the
Corus chess tournament in
Zee. He had a score of 10.5/13, losing just one
game (against the highest rated player of the C group, Dusko Pavasovic). As a result of the
victory, he took his first Grandmaster norm and achieved a performance rating of
2702. Particularly notable was his win over Sipke Ernst in the
penultimate round, when Carlsen sacrificed material to mate him in
just 29 moves. Carlsen won the Audience Prize for that game, as the
best game of the round (including the games played in the A and B
groups). 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
also led Lubomir Kavalek, writing
for the Washington Post, to
give him the title "Mozart
of chess". Agdestein, who was once a young GM at 18, said in an
interview that Carlsen is a significantly better player than he was
himself at the same age. He also said that Carlsen has an excellent
memory and plays an unusually wide range of different openings.
Carlsen's prowess caught the attention of Microsoft, who became his sponsor.
- Carlsen obtained his second GM norm in the Moscow Aeroflot Open in February 2004. In a blitz chess tournament in Reykjav√≠k, Iceland, Magnus
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, held 18 April to 28, 2004, Carlsen obtained his third
Grandmaster norm (enough for getting the GM title), after getting
four wins and four draws before the last game was to be
played. Resulting from this he was at the time
world's youngest GM and the second youngest person ever to hold GM
status, after Sergey Karjakin of
Ukraine who attained
the feat at 12 years and 7 months of age in 2002.
- In July 2004, Carlsen and Berge
√ėstenstad (then the reigning Norwegian champion) tied for first
in the Norwegian Chess
Championship, each scoring 7 out of 9 possible points. A
two-game match between them was arranged to decide the title. Both
games were drawn, which left √ėstenstad the champion because he had
superior tiebreaks in the tournament.
- In Smartfish Chess Masters at the Drammen chess festival
2004-05 (Norway) Carlsen defeated Alexei
Shirov, ranked number 10 in the world. In June 2005 in the
Ciudad de Leon rapid chess tournament Carlsen played a four-game
semi-final against Viswanathan
Anand, who was ranked 2nd in the world at the time. Magnus lost
3-1. Carlsen was invited to the tournament as the most promising
young chess player in 2005.
- In the 2005 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen again
finished in a shared first place, this time with his mentor Simen
Agdestein. A playoff between them was arranged between 7 November
and 10 November. This time Carlsen had the better tiebreaks, but
the rule giving the player with better tiebreaks scores the title
in the event of a 1-1 draw had been revoked previously. The match
was closely fought, Agdestein won the first game, Carlsen won the
second, so the match went into a phase of two and two rapid games
until there was a winner. Carlsen won the first rapid game,
Agdestein the second. Then followed a series of three draws until
Agdestein won the championship title with a victory in the sixth
October 2005 he took first place at the Arnold Eikrem Memorial in
Gausdal with 8 out of 9 points and a performance rating of
2792 at the age of 14.
- In the 2006 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen was close to
winning outright, but a last round loss to Berge √ėstenstad again
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. Nonetheless, in the play-off
19-21 November Carlsen won 3-1. After two draws in the initial full
time games, Magnus won both rapid games in round two, securing his
first Norwegian championship.
- Magnus won the 2006 Glitnir Blitz tournament
in Iceland. He
won 2-0 over Viswanathan Anand
(2003 FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion, 2004 Amber Rapid Chess
Champion, 2007 FIDE Classical World Champion) in the semi finals.
Carlsen also won 2-0 in the finals.
- Magnus scored 6/8 in the 37th Chess Olympiad in 2006 against
opponents averaging 2627 Elo, gaining 18 Elo (a rating performance
of 2820 points). One of his notable wins was against top English
grandmaster Michael Adams.
the 2006 Biel/Bienne grandmaster tournament he achieved second place,
after having beaten the eventual winner Alexander Morozevich twice (once with
the NH Chess Tournament held in
Amsterdam in August 2006, Carlsen participated in an
'Experience' v 'Rising Stars' Scheveningen team match. The
'Rising Stars' won the match 22-28 with Carlsen achieving the best
individual score for the youngsters, 6¬Ĺ/10 and a 2700 Elo
performance, thus winning the right to participate in the 2007
Melody Amber tournament.
the World Blitz Championship at Rishon LeZion, Israel he was
number 8 of 16 participants with 7¬Ĺ/15 points.
- Carlsen achieved a shared eighth place of 10
participants in the Mikhail Tal
Memorial in Moscow (–ú–ĺ—Ā–ļ–≤–į)
with two losses and seven draws. In the associated blitz
tournament Tal Blitz Cup he received 17¬Ĺ/34 points and
ninth place in a group of 18 participants.
- In the 2007 Corus chess
tournament Carlsen, playing in group A for the first time, had
to settle for the last place after nine draws and four losses,
scoring 4¬Ĺ points in 13 rounds.
- In the prestigious Linares
chess tournament Carlsen met the following top-rated players:
Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian, Peter
Leko, and Vassily Ivanchuk
(replacing Teimour Radjabov). With
the significantly lowest Elo rating, he achieved a second place (on
tiebreaks) with 7¬Ĺ points after four wins, seven draws and three
losses, and an Elo performance of 2778.
March 2007, Carlsen played for the first time in the Melody Amber blind and rapid chess tournament
Carlo. In the 11 rounds he achieved eight draws
and three losses in the blindfold, and
three wins, seven draws and one loss in the rapid part. This
resulted in a shared ninth place in the blindfold, shared second
place in the rapid (beaten only by Anand), and an eighth place in
the overall tournament.
- In May-June 2007, he participated in the Candidates Tournament
for the FIDE World
Chess Championship 2007. He was paired with the top seed
Levon Aronian. The six-game match was
drawn (two wins, two draws, and two losses), with Carlsen coming
from behind twice. The four-game rapid playoff was drawn as well
(one win, two draws, and one loss), with Carlsen winning the last
game to stay in the match. Finally, Aronian won both tiebreaker
(blitz) games, to eliminate Carlsen from the Championship.
- In July-August 2007, he won the International Chess Festival Biel Grandmaster Tournament
2007, with a +2 record (an Elo performance of 2753). His score
was equalled by Alexander
Onischuk and by the tie-breaker rule of the tournament, they
played a tie-breaker match to determine the winner. After drawing
two rapid and two blitz games, Carlsen won the armageddon game. He became the youngest
person ever to win a category 18 tournament.
- Immediately after the Biel tournament,
Carlsen's entered the open Arctic Chess Challenge in Troms√ł, but his +5=4 and 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
- In December 2007, he reached the semi-final round of the World
Chess Cup 2007, after defeating Michael
Adams in the round of 16, and Ivan
Cheparinov in the quarter-finals. In the semi-final, he was
eliminated by the eventual winner Gata
Carlsen in Bilbao, 2008
- Playing for the second time in the top group A of the Corus chess tournament, Carlsen
showed a big improvement over his 2007 performance. His final score
was 8 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.
- At the 2008 Linares chess
tournament, Carlsen had another 2800+ Elo performance, scoring
8 out of 14 (five wins, three losses and six draws). He finished in
sole second place, ¬Ĺ point behind the winner, world champion
March 2008, Carlsen played for the second time in the Melody Amber blind and rapid chess tournament,
which was 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, six draws
and two losses in the rapid part. 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.
- Carlsen was one of 21 players in the six-tournament FIDE Grand Prix 2008-2009, a
qualifier for the World
Chess Championship 2011. In the first tournament, in Baku, Azerbaijan, in April-May 2008, he finished in a three-way tie
for first place, with another 2800 Elo performance. Carlsen
later withdrew from the Grand Prix cycle despite his initial
success, citing "dramatic change[s] to ... regulations."
- Carlsen won a rapid
match against Peter Leko held at
Miskolc, Hungary, scoring 5:3 (two wins, six draws).
- In June, Carlsen won an annual Aerosvit event. In his strongest
tournament performance at that point in his career, he finished
undefeated with 8 out of 11 (five wins, six draws) in a category 19
field. His Elo performance was 2878.
- Playing in a category 18 Biel tournament, Carlsen finished
third with 6 points out of 10 (three wins, one loss, six draws),
with Elo performance of 2741, his first sub-2800 performance of
the Mainz Rapid Chess
world championship, Carlsen finished in second place after losing
the final to world classic and rapid champion Vishy Anand 3:1 (two losses, two draws).
To reach the final Magnus played against Judit Polgar scoring 1.5 point out of two (one
win, one draw), against Vishy Anand
scoring one point out of two (two draws) and against Morozevich scoring 1 point out of two (two
- In the category 21 Bilbao Masters, Carlsen finished second with
a 2768 performance rating (three wins, three losses, four
- Playing in Group A of the Corus chess tournament, Carlsen tied
for fourth with a 2739 performance (two wins, one loss, ten
- In the Linares chess tournament, Carlsen finished third with a
2777 performance (three wins, two losses, nine draws). In this
tournament, he defeated World Champion Viswanathan Anand and the eventual winner
Alexander Grischuk for the first
time under classical time controls.
- 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.
- Carlsen won the category 21 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament, 2.5
points ahead of second-place finisher Topalov, the world's
highest-rated player. He scored 8/10 (6 wins, 4 draws, no losses),
winning every game as White
(against Topalov, Wang Yue, Leko, Radjabov, and Jakovenko), and
also winning as Black
against Jakovenko. This was described as one of the greatest
tournament results in history. Jeff Sonas
considers Carlsen's result the best performance ever by a teenager,
and tied for the 13th best tournament result in history. His
rating for the tournament was 3002.
- In the Tal Memorial 2009,
played from 5 November 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.
- After the Tal Memorial, Carlsen won the 2009 World Blitz Championship, played from 16 November
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
Magnus Carlsen started cooperating with former world champion
in early 2009. In
September 2009 their cooperation was confirmed in Norwegian
In the October 2006 FIDE Elo ratings
Carlsen advanced to world number 22 with a rating of 2698. In the
January 2007 ratings he dropped to 2690 and rank 24. In the July
2007 ratings, after a series of strong results, Carlsen advanced to
become world number 17 with a rating of 2710. On the January 2008
FIDE rating list he was rated at 2733, and on October 2008 he
reached 2786 Elo rating.
He was placed sixth in the July 2008 list, but if his Aerosvit
result had been included he would have been ranked second. The
omission of the Aerosvit result, which finished after the cut-off
date for the July 2008 list, caused some controversy.
On 5 September 2008, after winning round 4 in the Bilbao Grand Slam
chess championship, Magnus Carlsen, still under 18, briefly became
#1 on the unofficial Live
Carlsen's September-October 2009 victory in the Nanjing Pearl
tournament raised his official rating to 2801, making him at age 18
the youngest player ever to break 2800. The youngest before him was
at age 25. Besides
Carlsen, only Kasparov
, Kramnik, and Anand
have achieved a 2800 rating, and it
has been pointed out that these four were all world champions
. Carlsen said that
he hoped his victory would mark the "beginning of a new era."
After the Tal Memorial (November 2009) he became number 1 in the
unofficial live chess
list with his new peak rating of 2805.7, 0.6 point over
the number 2, Veselin Topalov.
Standing on each top 100 FIDE list
||15, 1 months
||15, 4 months
||15, 7 months
||15, 10 months
||16, 1 months
||16, 4 months
||16, 7 months
||16, 10 months
||17, 1 months
||17, 4 months
||17, 7 months
||17, 10 months
||18, 1 months
||18, 4 months
||18, 7 months
||18, 9 months
||18, 11 months
Books and films
- Agdestein, S. (2004). Wonderboy: how Magnus Carlsen became
the youngest Chess Grandmaster in the world : the story of the
games. Interchess. ISBN 90-5691-131-7.
- The Prince of Chess, a film about Magnus Carlsen
(2005) Directed by √ėyvind