Magnus Carlsen[ edit ]

Magnus Øen Carlsen (born November 30, 1990) is a Norwegian chess player who came to international attention after winning the C group of the Corus Chess Tournament in January 2004 at the age of thirteen. In the April 2005 FIDE list, he has an Elo rating of 2548, making him Norway"s number two. Being a chess prodigy, he has been referred to as "The Mozart of chess", like Capablanca about 100 years ago. According to the Chessmetrics rating system Carlsen at the age of 13 years and 8 months was number 4 ever among chess players at that age, beaten only by Judit Polgar, Sergey Karjakin and Péter Lékó.

Carlsen lives in Lommedalen, Bærum, near Norway´s capital, Oslo. He played his first tournament at the age of eight and was coached at the Norwegian Sports Gymnasium led by the country´s top player, Grandmaster (GM) Simen Agdestein. Agdestein put his civil worker and master player Torbjørn Ringdahl-Hansen, currently a FIDE master with IM and GM norms, as his coach and they had one training session every week, together with one of Magnus´ close friends. The young International Master was given a year off from elementary school to participate in international chess tournaments during the fall season of 2003. In that year, he finished third in the European Under-14 Boys Championship.

The result which really brought him to the attention of the international chess world, however, was his victory in the C group at the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee with 10.5/13, losing just one game (against the highest rated player of the C group, Dusko Pavasovic), taking his first Grandmaster norm, and achieving an Elo tournament performance rating of 2702. Particularly notable was his win in the penultimate round over Sipke Ernst in which Carlsen sacrificed material to mate Ernst in just 29 moves. This game won Carlsen the Audience Prize for best game of the round (including all the games played in the B and A groups), though the first 23 moves had already been seen in the game Almagro Llanas-Gustafsson, Madrid 2003 (which, however, was a draw).

Carlsen´s tournament victory in the C group qualified him to play in the B group in 2005, and led to Lubomir Kavalek, writing in the Washington Post, to describe him as the "Mozart of chess". According to an interview with mentor Agdestein, himself once the world´s youngest GM at 18, Carlsen is a significantly better player than he was himself at the same age. Carlsen is said to have an excellent memory and plays an unusually wide range of different openings.

Carlsen obtained his second GM norm in the Moscow Aeroflot Open in February 2004. In a blitz chess tournament (where players have much less time for their moves than in normal chess) in Reykjavík, Iceland, on 17 March 2004, Magnus Carlsen defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov. The blitz tournament was a preliminary event leading up to a rapid chess knock out tournament beginning the next day, where Carlsen achieved one draw against the current top-rated player in the world, Garry Kasparov, before losing to Kasparov after 32 moves of the second game, thus being knocked out of the tournament.

In the 6th Dubai Open Chess Champonship, 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 is going to fill the slot as the world´s youngest GM and will be 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.

Carlsen was the youngest player to participate in the FIDE World Chess Championship, 2004, but was knocked out in the first round by Levon Aronian. In July of that year, he finished second place behind Berge Østenstad in the Norwegian Chess Championship. Since the scores of these two players were equal (each got 7 points out of 9 but Østenstad had better tiebreaks) a 2-game play-off match between the two was arranged, due to Østenstad´s superior tiebreak score he would win the title should this match end with a 1-1 tie. The match did end with a 1-1 tie after two draws, so Østenstad retained his Norwegian championship title.

In Smartfish Chess Masters at the Drammen chess festival 2004-05 (Norway) Carlsen defeated Alexei Shirov, ranked number 13 in the world. In june 2005 in the Ciudad de Leon rapid chess tournament Carlsen played a 4 game semi-final against Viswanathan Anand, former FIDE World Champion and 2nd ranked player in the world. Magnus lost 3-1. Carlsen was invited to the tournament as the most promising young chess player in 2005.

Sample game


In this position after move 17 in the 2004 Corus tournament game between Carlsen and Sipke Ernst, Carlsen (white) finds a surprising piece sacrifice in a normal position that leads to a long-term initiative and eventual win for white.


The following game is Carlsen-Ernst, from the Corus Chess tournament in 2004. It is given with Carlsen"s own annotations.

1. e4 c6
A surprise in move one! I had prepared for the Ruy Lopez.

2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 Ngf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Ne4 Qa5
13...Nxe4 is possible, followed by 14. Qxe4 Nf6 15. Qd3 Qd5 (15...Qa5 16. Kb1 0-0 causes the continuation) 16. Kb1!? (16. c4 is more common) 16...Nh5 17. Bc1 followed by Ne5 gives good compensation for the pawn.

"14. Kb1 O-O 15. Nxf6+ Nxf6 Not 15...Bxf6 16.g4! 16. Ne5
Polgar actually played 16.g4 in this in this position also - against Anand in last years Wiijk an Zee. I reckoned Ernst was well familiar with this continutation and therefore chose a quieter line.

16...Rad8 17. Qe2
This was the last theoretical move I knew. Still, I had used 45 minutes to decide upon which line to play.

17...c5!?" (See diagram)

17...Qb6 18.c3 (18.Rd3 was recommended by some commentators, but it looks like it may be possible for black to snatch the pawn, for instance 18...Rxd4 19. Be3 Re4!) 18...c5 was definitely a better choice for black.


18. Ng6! fxg6?
The alternative 18...Rfe8 19.Nxe7+ Rxe7 20.dxc5 was preferable, but black is in trouble here as well.

19. Qxe6+ Kh8 20. hxg6!
Black is actually defenseless.

20. ... Ng8
The best try. 20...Rd7 or 20...Tde8 are both driven back by 21. Rxh6+ gxh6 22. Bxh6 Rg8 23. Qf7 cxd4 24. Bg5! (In the line after 20...Rde8 the response 22...Qb6 fails to 23. g7+ Kh7 24. gxf8=Q Bxf8 25. Qf7+ Kxh6 26. f4! with a mating attack.)

21. Bxh6 gxh6 22. Rxh6+!
The real point of the combination.

22...Nxh6 23. Qxe7 Nf7
The only move.

24. gxf7
Interestingly enough had 24. Qf6+? been played before, but after 24...Kg8 25. Rh1 Nh6 26. Qe7 Nf7 27. Qf6 white only gets a draw.

24...Kg7
After 24...Qb6 25. Qe5+ Kh7 26. Rh1+ Kg6 27. Rh5 black has to give up his queen with 27...Qf6 28. Rh6+ to avoid mate, but the endgame is of course hopeless.

25. Rd3?!
25. Qe5+! Kxf7 26. Rd3 would have forced black to play 26...Qe1+ to avoid mate.

25...Rd6
This loses immediately, but 25...Qb6 26. Rg3+ Qxg6 27. Rxg6+ Kxg6 28. d5 is also easily won for white.

26. Rg3+ Rg6 27. Qe5+ Kxf7 28. Qf5+
27...Kh7 28. Qh5+ Rh6 29. Qf5+ Kh8 30. Qe5+ leads to mate.

28...Rf6
Both 28...Ke7 and 28...Ke8 fails to 29. Re3+.

29. Qd7# 1-0

References
  • Agdestein, S. (2004). Wonderboy. (How Magnus Carlsen became the youngest grandmaster ever). Interchess. ISBN 9056911317.


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article No 519 / last change on 2005-06-29, 06:44am

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