A sponsoring agreement has been agreed between Arctic Securities and Magnus Carlsen. Magnus became an International Grandmaster at the age of 13, the youngest at the time. In October 2009, during the Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament, he became the fifth chess player in the history to achieve an Elo-rating over 2800 Ė by far the youngest to do so. That year he also became The World Blitz Chess Champion. On January the 1st of 2010 the new FIDE list was published and at the age of 19 Magnus became the youngest ever chess player to be ranked World Number One. Carlsen is the best representative for top excellence within both analysis and implementation.
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Christmas 2011

I spent a few long days with ď60 minutesĒ and other media representatives last week. Activities included a 10-player blindfold exhibition in the chess club OSS, interviews, book signing and various on-and-off-site shooting for TV and magazines. Fortunately it was mostly quite interesting as the overall program was a stretch coming on the back of Tal Memorial and London Classics. This week has been quiet. Snow came late this year but skiing conditions are decent now. Iíll spend Christmas with the extended family and up in the mountains doing some more skiing. Prior to Tata we will spend a week far south recharging batteries. In addition to the new main sponsor newspaper VG, Iím happy to continue the cooperation with main sponsors Arctic Securities and Simonsen Lawyers in 2012! Thank you! As a professional chess player Iíve been fortunate enough to combine tournament activity with a mix of activities with my highly professional and pleasant sponsor representatives and their customers. The fact that the results this year have been consistently good with rating gains in every event as well as several important tournament victories, indicates that the balance between chess and other activities has worked out well. I wish everyone in Arctic Securities and readers of this blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Magnus Carlsen, Haslum, December 23rd, 2011

2011-12-24 00:09:26

Arctic Chess Challenge

Magnus Carlsen personifies the essence of research, strategy and execution.
Do you have the skills needed to beat the world champion?

2011-12-22 16:08:38

London Chess Classics R9 2011

(Haslum, December 18th; The below blog item was written in London but unfortunately not published until now. Iíll be back later with more on my activities this week as well as Christmas greetings!) Yesterday I drew with Anand with black. We played a topical theoretical line and when he allowed me to capture on b5 and play Qc6 any problems I might have had was over. Maybe I could have found a way to play for an edge later on. As it unfolded he found a few necessary defensive moves and a drawn rook ending was reached after two hours play. Luke McShane tried hard to win with white against Kramnik but ended up losing instead. Before the last round I was in a must-win situation without serious prospects for 1st as Kramnik anyhow would have the better tie break with a draw against Aronian. As it was, I had problems just defending as black against Short in the last round. Several mistakes in the middle game left me with an unpleasant position and in the end a two-against-three-pawns-and-rook-ending that was manageable. Draw. Kramnik had already drawn against Aronian to take sole first at 16 points. Nakamura played the Kings Gambit as white and was worse for most of the game against Adams, but the latter went astray in the time trouble and lost instead. Consequently Nakamura took sole 2nd place with 15 points while Iím third with 14 ahead of McShane at 13. I was a bit low on energy after many long hard fights during Tal Memorial and despite trying my absolute best - by now I feel really exhausted Ė Iím not happy with most of my games except the win against Nakamura. As it turned out none of my blunders resulted in irreparable damage and the result in itself, 3 wins and 5 draws, is absolutely a good result for me. As it happened both Kramnik (beating all the English players) and Nakamura (also winning four games) scored even better and deservedly ended up 1st and 2nd this time around. Congratulations! I think the third London Chess Classics was a success and hope to be back next year. Many thanks to the organizer for a great event in a great city! The next few days Iím fairly busy with ď60 minutesĒ and other media interviews after which I look forward to a well-deserved Christmas break☺ Magnus Carlsen, London, December 12th, 2011

2011-12-18 19:12:29

London Chess Classics Round 5 to 7

If this blog entry makes it online, the internet at the hotel is working again! Thursday I played black against Aronian and was fine out of the opening. He sacrificed a pawn with the e4-break followed by d5. I did not believe this was correct but when I immediately went astray with Bc5? instead of the perfectly acceptable Nc5, as I had missed Nxe4!, I was in for a long uphill struggle to save the ending. Fortunately for me Aronian made a few inaccuracies and a drawn ending was reached just before the time control. Nakamura beat Howell to take the sole lead after 5 rounds. Yesterday I had a "bye" and commented upon the round 6 live games from the VIP room and the commentary room. For the first time in this tournament not that much happened resulting in four draws. In round 7 today I played white against out-of-form Michael Adams and needed a win to stay in the fight for first. I was not happy about my position out of the opening despite the long term prospects of the bishop pair. Trying to keep the queens on the board I had to make a serious of ugly-looking queen moves. When he played f5 I felt more comfortable. Despite his active pieces white is probably better. Closer to the time control he started to drift giving my bishops more space and when he allowed Qb1-d3-f1 he was in serious trouble due to his weak king. An immediate blunder (Nc4) decided the game. Kramnik and McShane also won and the three of us have 12 points (three wins and three draws each) with Nakamura trailing at 11 with 2 rounds to go. Sunday I'm black against Anand who shares 5th place with Aronian at 7 points and 50% score. Magnus Carlsen, London, December 10th 2011

2011-12-11 02:16:26

London Chess Classics Round 4

Always inspiring to play V.Kramnik. Yesterday was no exception. Despite the innocent looking opposite colored bishop ending following the Nimzo Indian opening, I had a clear advantage due to the monster bishop on d4. His weakness on g7 tied up his king and if I can activate my rook black is in real trouble. After the advance of my h-pawn I had planned to recapture with the rook but suddenly found gxh6 very interesting. I must have overestimated this variation and when Kramnik defended well the game ended in a draw just after the first time control. Nakamura beat Anand in a Kings Indian and McShane secured another black win against a fellow countryman (Howell) to join me in the lead after four rounds. Representatives of main sponsors Arctic Securities and Simonsen Lawyers visited the tournament and I was happy to hear that they enjoyed the experience! CBS is present at the tournament to make a profile on chess and in the evening we had an excellent dinner at MrChow. Today I spent a few hours in central London shooting and doing interviews for CBS. Now it is time to get ready for my game (as black) against Aronian tomorrow. Magnus Carlsen, London, December 7, 2011

2011-12-08 02:42:05

London 5.12.11 - Chess and Football today

Fulham has three Norwegian's on their team and this morning I was offered tickets to Fulham - Liverpool. I managed to focus on the chess game against Nakamura during the game but was happy to finish in time to enjoy the football match (1-0)! Having struggled for nearly seven hours against McShane yesterday I opted for a quiet line today. The Giucco Piano 3.Bc4 with d3 and c3 does not offer any great advantage, but I gradually got a position that is easier to play with white. He spent more than half an hour after 12.Be3 and decided not to exchange the black squared bishops. In the late middle game I anyhow played f4 and enjoyed an open f-file. He controlled the b-file and had enough defending pieces around his king. With correct play a draw would be the likely outcome, but when he allowed the exchange sacrifice Rxf6! the position got extremely unpleasant for black. Short on time he made a few more inaccuracies and resigned after 40 moves. Aronian beat Nigel Short and McShane continues his impressive start winning with black against Michael Adams. Anand was in serious trouble as white against Howell but managed to draw in the end. With 7 points (2,5/3 in classical score) I'm the sole leader ahead of McShane at 5 and Nakamura and Kramnik (with one game less) at 4. Round 4 on Tuesday starts at 4 pm local time. I'm white against Vladimir Kramnik. Magnus Carlsen, London, December 5th 2011

2011-12-06 03:14:42

London Chess Classics 2011 R2

At 27 Luke McShane is quite an experienced player. He won the Youth World Championship under 10 already back in 1992 at the age of 8. Browsing through his games from this championship revealed that he met a number of the current top 100 players among others his opponent yesterday Levon Aronian. He played 1.e4 against me today and I went for the sideline 6Ö.Bc5 in the Ruy Lopez. He seemed to be well prepared. I spent 30 minutes looking for a way to avoid the main continuation, where play gets really sharp. I did not find a good alternative and instead managed to mix up the move order with h6? directly instead of exd4 followed by h6. The resulting position felt unpleasant and despite spending most of my time for the first 20 moves I made several more inaccuracies - while McShane played well - to reach a lost position. In the time trouble I somehow managed to find a few good defensive moves and he still had a job to do after move 40. He spent lots of time on his next 10 moves and when trying to consolidate before the second time control he allowed me some counterplay with Qe1 after which I believe the game was headed for a draw with correct play. After nearly 7 hours a draw was agreed. There were two decisive games today. Nakamura appeared to be worse in the middle game against Aronian. The latter made a few mistakes before the time control and seemed to fall apart in contrast to his normal display of tenacious defense. Short went for an old drawish variation against Kramnik but managed to misplace his white squared bishop. His position was probably lost before move 20 and he resigned some 20 moves later. Iím shared first with Kramnik and Nakamura after 2 rounds with 4 points (based on football score). Monday Iím white against co-leader Hikaru Nakamura whom I beat in the last round in Tal Memorial a week ago. Magnus Carlsen, London, December 4th, 2011

2011-12-05 02:29:11

London Chess Classics 2011 Round 1

Hopefully LCC is becoming a regular top level event. It is great to play in London once again. Before the round today chief organiser Malcolm Pein introduced the 3rd edition of LCC and former tennis star and now chess enthusiast Boris Becker performed the opening move. I told him I wanted to play 1.e4. He endorsed my choice and left the pawn at the front of the e4 square ready for further advances! I was playing same aged D.Howell (2633) and got a small edge from the Ruy Lopez opening. Motivated by the incident on move one I played 14.f4 and 16.e5! sacrificing a pawn for the initiative. David grabbed another pawn at b2 with his queen. White is still somewhat better in my opinion due to the monstrous knight on e4 and bishop on c4. Black is very much tied up with difficulties finding meaningful moves. I gradually improved my position and continued to put pressure on him. In ensuing timetrouble he stated to drift with 28....Re7. I got a bit low on time myself and an otherwise good game was a bit marred by the lack of control just before move 40. I was completely winning when both of us missed his only resource 40....Qxf5! after which white would be better but with a long job left to try to win the game. With 2 seconds left on the clock he resigned instead! 1-0. Aronian seemed to have a highly promising position against Luke McShane, but the latter managed to defend excellently despite his time trouble and found a perpetual and drew around move 40. Anand had a small edge at one point but not enough to win against Adams while Kramnik-Nakamura was a fairly balanced and well-played draw. Tomorrow I'm black against Luke McShane who did very well in last year's edition following a year as chess pro. He is now back in a full time job outside chess but was off to a good start today. Magnus Carlsen, London December 3rd 2011

2011-12-04 01:14:28

Tal Memorial Victory! London Chess Classics next.

I turned 21 yesterday, and any plans I might have had to do something special was not realistic considering the timing in between Tal Memorial and London Chess Classics. I spent the few days after Moscow at home; did some media interviews, sponsor activities, annotated a game and tried to rest as much as possible. The last round of Tal Memorial provided one of the best presents I could have had. I managed to win with black against Nakamura, and as Aronian drew with Nepomnichtchi I won the Tal Memorial 2011! Aronian and I both got 5,5/9 but I had the better tie-break due to an extra black. (Money prizes were shared this time.) Karjakin, Nepomnichtchi and Ivanchuk shared 3rd followed by Svidler, Anand, Gelfand, Kramnik and Nakamura. It was quite an exhausting tournament with lots of fighting chess. The relatively few decided games was in my opinion not caused by lack of trying but rather an amazingly stubborn defence put up by nearly all the players when faced with unpleasant and difficult positions. The 6th Tal Memorial was a success and I sincerely hope the able organisers continue this great tradition. Five of the players from Moscow (me, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik and Nakamura) had a short break only and are ready for London Chess Classics starting Saturday. We are joined by four strong English players (Adams, Short, McShane and Howell). With 9 players we are playing 9 rounds and each player has a walk-over and will on the individual free day comment on the other games live from the playing venue. Friday at 2 pm there is a press conference at the Olympia Conference centre after which a game against "the world" will be played via twitter. Join us! Magnus Carlsen, London, December 1, 2011

2011-12-02 01:17:32

Tal Memorial 2011 Penultimate Round

In the game as white against co-leader Ian Nepomniachtchi I went for 1.e4 and 3.Bb5 against the Sicilian. As planned I got a small but pleasant advantage out of the opening, and my opponent spent quite some time early on (at least compared to his normal rapid mode of play). He quickly managed to improve his position by playing d5, but it was still somewhat tricky for black. My problem was that I struggled finding a proper plan. He had two pawn weaknesses against my single weakness on the queenside. This left him tied up at the queen side, but my own king was far to vulnerable to facilitate an efficient kingside attack. He defended very well and when I finally could win a pawn he had sufficient counterplay. I had the choice between taking on a5 or c6. The latter would at best give me a rook ending a pawn up (that he most probably would be able to draw), and I went for Rxa5 instead having missed his immediate combinational counterplay yielding a perpetual check. Draw. Aronian played a fine game against Svidler to take the sole lead before the last round. Iím shared 2nd and has black against Nakamura tomorrow at 1pm local time. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 24th, 2011

2011-11-24 21:39:38

Tal Memorial 2011 R7 Short draw.

Today Iíll keep the blog entry in line with the game against Anand; short. A long night sleep and I felt great before the round today. Not a bad idea as black against reigning World Champion V.Anand despite his solid but somewhat lackluster performance thus far. Finally he shifted to 1.d4 against me and I went for the popular GrŁnfeld defense. He chose 8.Qd2 and I tried to remember what to do next. I went for the most solid line with cxd4 and Nc6, and with some precise albeit fairly obvious moves the position was equal around move 20 as I controlled the c-file compensating for his advanced central pawns. Without much prospects for any of us moves were repeated shortly after. Draw. Overall the round was somewhat dry, but Ivanchuk won a nice game against Nakamura to make it a five-way tie for first with two rounds to go. After a tasty meal at TGI Fridayīs I look forward to the game against same aged Nepomniachtchi tomorrow. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 23th, 2011

2011-11-23 20:41:04

Moscow Tal Memorial 2011 R6

On the rest day there was a social event (and informal blitz tournament) at the V.Dvorkovich Chess Club for among others the Tal participants, the Russian Chess Federation board, Tal organizers and chess journalists. I left fairly early to prepare for the 6th round encounter with the white pieces against P.Svidler today. Not sure if I spent too much time on the preparation contributing to a heavy head today or not enough time as I had not covered the 10Ö b6 variation of the Grunfeld that he somewhat surprisingly went for in sufficient depth. I had a small advantage out of the opening but soon regretted 14.Qa4 as Peter found the best and only adequate continuation which in turn was quite pleasant for black. Until the time control I had to defend a somewhat unpleasant position due to the strong black bishop on d5. He must have forced things on the kingside a bit early as I had the best prospects immediately after the time control. First I mainly considered Rd1 yielding a slight, but most probably merely symbolic advantage for white. I ended up playing the seemingly promising Rd4 instead as I had missed his 43Ö. Qb2! 44.Qe4 Qg2+ after which the rook and bishop ending is just a draw. Aronian, Kramnik and Nepomniachtchi all had an advantage with white but their opponents managed to equalize and despite another round of fighting chess all games ended in draw again. Wednesday Iím black against V.Anand. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 22th, 2011

2011-11-22 22:17:01

Moscow Tal Memorial 2011 Round 5

I think it is fair to say that this tournament turns into a great and enjoyable event in all respects. Personally I really enjoy the games, the ambience of the playing hall and the knowledgeable spectators. Ivanchuk-Carlsen was another exciting and hard fought game and the same can be said about nearly all the games today. Maybe the minimum 40 moves rule really makes a difference. Ivanchuk played a Grunfeld sideline that is not considered to be dangerous for black. After b5! the initiative is already with black, and Ivanchuk had to be careful to avoid getting seriously worse. Anyhow I managed to get a significantly better endgame and expected to find a way to break through as all white pieces were passive. I probably missed the best opportunity and after several attempts were successfully parried by Ivanchuk, I made a huge oversight with Bxd4. I did not see his obvious response Rd2 until after having made the blunder. Fortunately Bc3 giving up the rook still holds for black. A nice stalemate ended the game. Draw after 6,5 hours fun and hard work. Check out Karjakin-Svidler for a short but highly enjoyable game! Monday is a rest day and we are still four players sharing the lead with four rounds to go. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 20th, 2011

2011-11-21 01:09:20

Tal Memorial Round 4

Karjakin (21) became GM more than 9 years ago (the youngest ever) and we have both been pretty active in international chess for many years. Surprisingly we havenít played that many classical games, decisive games are just 1-0 to me I believe. Today I came close to improve the score. As white in the Nimzo Indian variation I gave him some activity to get a long-term advantage in the complex middle game. It went more or less as planned although Karjakin played energetically. The position was balanced, and after breaking with g4 he should probably have captured on e4 with the f-knight reaching a balanced ending after a long sequence. Instead he let me keep the pawn and a pleasant position. Getting a bit low on time before the time control he even let me advance the pawns on the kingside. Expecting him to resign any minute I could not keep a cool head, and found the only way to give him serious counterplay with the Ba6-resource. I was playing for two results only and having refilled my batteries I think I made a decent try. It did not help. Throughout the 5th and 6th hour of play Karjakin defended very well and the knight ending was a draw in the end. In all the other games as well there were clear winning chances but they all ended in a draw. 2.5 out of 4 and shared lead is of course pretty decent and it is time to focus on the coming rounds. Tomorrow Iím black against Ivanchuk. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 19th, 2011

2011-11-19 23:27:01

Moscow Tal Memorial 2011 R3

Black against world no 4 V.Kramnik is usually a bit of a challenge, and the game today was no exception. 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 h6 4.Nc3 Bb4 is rightly categorized as an ďuncommon openingĒ, and we had to think right from the start. Somehow I got a difficult position out of the opening and during the early middle game it turned even more unpleasant as I had to withdraw one piece after the other. But despite white having all the space, the black pawn structure was healthy promising decent prospects long term (if I survived). In the critical face Kramnik probably missed a few continuations maintaining a white advantage and the position got more dynamic and fairly balanced. I still had to find the best moves though. The complex game required an unusual amount of concrete calculations and we both drifted into time trouble around move 30. Kramnik shifted his attack to the queenside, but it was defendable for black. Just before the time control we repeated moves two times and as I could not find a healthy way out of the perpetual I took the third repetition. A highly eventful draw. I must have been too relaxed after the time control as I missed a fairly straightforward variation (Kb8 and Bc8) offering the chance to play for a win. Anyhow, an exciting game with lots of good moves and some less good by both players. Aronian, Karjakin and Svidler all won with black today and the first two joins Nepomniachtchi and me in the lead after three rounds. Tomorrow Iím white against Karjakin, and I look forward to another game of chess! Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 18th, 2011

2011-11-18 22:45:32

Tal Memorial 2011 Round 2

Before the game yesterday I listened to ďIn My PlaceĒ by Coldplay and somehow the passage ďI was scared, tired and underpreparedĒ hit a cord inside. Not so today. Against veteran and next World Championship Match participant Boris Gelfand, Israel, I was white, felt perky and eager to play an exciting game. Gelfand spent some time in the opening after my unusual 8.Bd3 in the Slav. The double-edged 13.Qc2 left my king alone with a rook on h8 and an open h-file. He had to castle long or leave his king in the centre. He went for the long castle and while my position looked quite good, I could not find a clear road to any significant advantage and went for the ultra sharp 15.d5! Gelfand found the best attacking continuation and throughout the middle game I had to find several critical resources to keep the balance. When he exchanged one rook the balance started to shift and low on time just before the first time control he went astray. 1-0! Maybe Tal would have approved of our game today. The other games ended draw and Iím in the lead together with Ivanchuk and Nepomniachtchi. After the game we went to a good Chinese restaurant as preparation for the game against Kramnik tomorrow. Stay tuned! Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 17th, 2011

2011-11-17 21:30:07

Tal Memorial 2011 started today

Commemorating the birth of former World Champion Mikhail Tal (1936-1992) the Tal Memorial is arranged for the 6th year in a row. We are getting used to a very high level of organization in Moscow. The players are staying at the classy Ritz-Carlton and the playing venue is the magnificent Pashkov house next to Kreml. Iíve managed to relax well and spend some time with friends between Bilbao and Tal. In the European Team Championship early November Norway had to manage without me and J.Hammer and the result was about as expected. Kudos to the Germans for an impressive overall victory beating several of the top rated teams. Having managed to bring together most of the top 10 on the rating list, the Tal Memorial repeats the Bilbao Grand Slam feat of staging a category 22 event. I did not participate last year in Tal and look forward to a great event. The other 2800 rated players (Anand, Aronian and Kramnik) all drew white in round one (and five white overall) in the drawing of lots yesterday, and Iím black against all of them. As a consolation number of blacks is the first tiebreak criteria in the final standing. The time control is classical seven hours, with increments from move one. A no-draw rule applies for 40 moves undoubtedly resulting in a hard-fought and tough tournament. I was black against Aronian today. We played a variation of the 5.Qa4 line in the Queens Indian. I was slightly worse after the opening but managed to gradually improve my position in the middlegame. The position was double edged before the first time control. He offered me the pawn on e3 but would get significant compensation and I decided on a less risky line. Anyhow I had some serious problems in the complex rook and bishop endgame and was relieved when a draw was reached after 5,5 hours play. Ivanchuk outplayed Svidler to take an early lead together with Nepomniachtchi who beat Kramnik with black! Tomorrow Iím white against Gelfand at 3 pm local time (apparently Moscow is still on summer time) and I look forward to the continuation. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, November 16th, 2011

2011-11-16 22:17:25

Sao Paulo & Bilbao 2011 Chess Masters Final Victor

Evidently there was a lot of nerve in the last round Tuesday. I was reasonably happy to avoid too much risk especially as co-leader Ivanchuk did not seem to play as ambitiously as earlier in the tournament. We both drew our opponents in about 2,5 hours. While we waiting for the tie-break games to start (to be broadcast live on local TV), Anand won against Vallejo to climb to shared 3rd Ė 5th with Nakamura (3rd on tie-break) and Aronian (4th). In the first blitz play-off game against Ivanchuk I was white and enjoyed a pleasant position in the middle game. It looked very promising at one point but I lost the thread and the ending resulted in a logical draw. In the second game Ivanchuk played an unusual variation in the opening and continued to play very quickly but too passively. I managed to build up a king side attack and still had some time left on the clock. After some reshuffling of pieces and a few inaccuracies from Ivanchuk the attack went through! My first Grand Slam Final victory! (I placed 2nd in 2008 and 3rd last year.) I have thoroughly enjoyed the stay in Brazil (one week in Rio and one in Sao Paulo) and in Bilbao. My heartfelt thanks to the Sao Paulo and Bilbao organizers for a great category 22 event staged in fantastic cities! Today Iím off to Stockholm for a TV show (Skavlan) and Saturday Iím giving a simul in ŇlgŚrd outside Stavanger on the Norwegian west-coast. My next big tournament is Tal Memorial in Moscow starting November 16th. Magnus Carlsen, October 13th, 2011

2011-10-13 11:10:24

Chess Masters Final Sao Paulo & Bilbao R9

Round 9 represented another must-win for me against sole tournament leader Ivanchuk. This time I got a very pleasant position out of the opening. When he allowed Rxd7, which could not be captured as his queen get trapped, white is simply much better. Despite calculating many lines with black sacrificing his queen I somehow missed the line appearing in the game, and I consequently made a few inaccuracies. Material-wise the position was balanced when I won his queen and two pawns for a rook and two knights but the vulnerable black king made his defense very challenging. With two minutes left on the clock around move 30 he started to blitz out moves and quickly lost a piece. 1-0! Nearly an hour earlier Aronian had already scored a convincing 25-move victory against reigning World Champion Anand. Nakamura lost on time against Vallejo. Lots of spectators followed the games from outside the cube today, and I hope three decisive games provided excellent excitement. With one round to go Ivanchuk and I have 14 points each and we play Aronian and Nakamura respectively Tuesday (at 16:30). They both have 11 points and have to win to try to catch the leaders. In case of a tie for first there will be two blitz games and if necessary Armageddon. Magnus Carlsen, October 10th, 2011

2011-10-11 01:29:55

Chess Masters Final 2011 Bilbao R8

Round 8 represented a must-win for everyone except Ivanchuk wanting to stay in the race for first. In theory white against Vallejo was the easiest game of the tournament despite my loss against him in Sao Paulo. He played the Slav defense with 4.e3. I soon was out of preparation and after the exchange of queens white had only a slight positional advantage if any. He defended quite actively, and despite the passed d-pawn I did not have a significant advantage until he fell for a trick and lost a piece for two pawns just before the first time control. He played on until zugzwang resulted in loss of pawns or the advance of my d-pawn. 1-0. Aronian lost to Nakamura while Ivanchuk-Anand ended draw. Still some excitement left in the tournament! With football score Ivanchuk has 14 points followed by Nakamura and me at 11, Anand at 9, Aronian 8 and Vallejo 7. Tomorrow is a free day before the penultimate round Monday when Iím white against Ivanchuk. Magnus Carlsen, October 8th, 2011

2011-10-09 02:00:17

Bilbao Grand Slam Final 2011 R6 & R7

Most of the players left Sao Paulo Sunday October 2nd and arrived in Bilbao and grandiose Melia hotel in beautiful summer weather on the 3rd. Ivanchuk arrived on the 5th after the highly unfortunate incident of being robbed at gunpoint outside the hotel upon departure in Sao Paulo. Nonetheless Ivanchuk managed to win against Nakamura in round 6 to extend his lead. I was white against Anand and got a small advantage out of the Nimzo-Indian opening. After a couple of small inaccuracies on my part nothing was left and a threefold repetition after the time control ended the game. Draw. In round 7 I had the black pieces and was up against Aronian. He played the highly unusual 8.h4 in a half-forgotten line of the Queens Gambit which has become surprisingly topical over the last couple of weeks. I spent some 15 minutes trying to find a response that would make his h-pawn displaced at h4 and was satisfied with the c5-plan sacrificing a pawn for an initiative. He quickly returned the pawn but black kept the initiative. He played the surprising Rc7. In the analysis he admitted to have missed my defense Qa5! Fortunately for him he survives the tactical shoot-out, and the ending was only slightly better for black. An otherwise good game by me was marred by the dubious 26Ö. b4 after which a3 immediately equalizes. Still only black can hope to achieve anything but his well-timed f4-break secured a draw in a hard-fought game. Spanish Vallejo saved the excitement in the tournament by beating Ivanchuk. With three rounds to go Ivanchuk is the clear leader at 13 points. Iím shared 2nd to 5th at 8 points. The competition is held in the glass cube in the middle of the Alhůndiga Bilbao building and the last three rounds will start at 16:30 local time. The half hour delay was (correctly) expected to result in higher public interest around the first time control. Magnus Carlsen, October 8th, 2011

2011-10-09 01:57:59

Chess Masters Final, Sao Paulo, Round 4 & 5

After the third round loss it was a relief to focus on something completely different on our day off. I went to play golf for the second time in my life, and I had to concentrate hard just to hit the ball (and not thin air). Surprisingly I had some good shots that improved my mood. I wanted to strike back against Nakamura in round four. He played a solid defence, and I didn't get much out of the opening. The position was pretty dry, and I had to accept that I was the only one in danger if I pressed too hard. The game ended in logical draw by a perpetual check. In round five, the last one in Sao Paulo, I faced Ivanchuck, the leader of the tournament. I chose the French defence, and got a good position out of the opening. I had several dynamic plans. The one I chose wasn't as good as I thought, and he could have equalized with bxc3. He missed it or thought he had something better. He made some inaccuracies later on and I won the game. Needless to say it is easier to handle the break before the second part of the tournament in Bilbao after such an important win. Ivanchuck still leads the tournament ahead of Nakamura. I'm shared third, together with Anand and Aronian. I think the tournament is completely open, still there is everything to play for. The final half of the tournament starts in Bilbao on Thursday, I`m white against reigning World Champion Arnand. Finally I want to thank the organizers in Sao Paulo for an excellent event. The playing conditions were perfect, and I was particularily happy to see all the young chess enthusiasts that eagerly followed the games on site. Bilbao, October 4th, Magnus Carlsen

2011-10-05 00:01:54

Chess Masters Final, Sao Paulo & Bilbao, Round 2&3

In the second round I had the white pieces against world no. 3, Levon Aronian from Armenia. I got a microscopic edge out of the opening, after an early queen exchange. He made some small inaccuracies, and I started to feel optimistic about my position. I won a pawn, but he resisted very well, and I couldn't find a way to convert the advantage. Slightly disappointed I had to settle for a draw by repetition after 56 moves. In round three I was up against Paco Vallejo Pons from Spain. Vallejo Pons entered the tournament as the lowest ranked player, and he had a terrible start with two losses. Beeing black, I was prepared to take some risks to obtain an unbalanced position. Even though a draw, as black, would be a pretty normal result, I felt eager to try for more. Things went well and I achieved a position I felt was close to winning. Having a big lead on the clock as well, I tried to figure out a forced win with 26 Rd3. The win was there, but I didn't manage to calculate it to the end. I went for Qxe4 instead, which is also a good move, but having squandered most of my time advantage, I started to drift and even managed to blunder a piece and the game with it. It's outrageous and painful, but with seven rounds to go it's possible to repair. Today is a day off, and I'm on my way to do some sports. Sao Paulo, 28th of September, Magnus Carlsen

2011-09-29 15:17:50

Chess Masters Final, Sao Paulo & Bilbao, Round 1

First a few words about last week. I arrived in Rio de Janeiro 17th of September. The main reason for going, was the opening party for Arctic Securities new department in Rio. The office had an amazing view overlooking Copacabana and the Statue of Jesus. The opening party was packed, and I think the 15 leaders from the oil and gas industry, participating in a simul against me, as well as the spectators, enjoyed the chess part of the event. For the rest of the week I was happy to be able to use the Arctic office for chess training. In Rio I also got the chance to enjoy beach life, great food and even a football match (Botafogo - Flamengo). At the same time, the "Rock in Rio" festival was on. TC HÝiseth, who works for Arctic in Rio, managed to set up a chess session with me and the band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Playing against the legends of alternative rock, with the band Snowpatrol watching was fun. The level of their game was quite good and they told me that they used to play chess while touring. It was good to arrive in Sao Paulo on Saturday. The Itaim district is very nice and it reminds me a bit of Greenwich Village in NYC. The opening ceremony at Sunday was good with a lot of prominent speakers. I was impressed by the number of young chess fans taking part. I had black against the current World Champion, Vishy Anand, in first round today. I played the Berlin defence and achieved a comfortable draw. Tomorrow Iíll have white against world no. 3, Levon Aronian. I hope for an interesting fight! Sao Paulo, 26th of September, Magnus Carlsen

2011-09-27 11:04:39

Before the Chess Master Final, Sao Paulo & Bilbao

After the rapid tournament Botvinnik Memorial in Moscow, I haven't been blogging. I have been real busy, but the poor result might also be a part of it. Just about everything went wrong the second day in Moscow. I felt fine prior to the first game against Aronian, and I was also very happy after the opening. Surprisingly, at least to me, he got overwhelming compensation after sacrificing two exchanges. With energetic play he won a nice game in the end. The game unsettled me a bit and I lost my momentum. Losing three games in a row feels awful, but hopefully it makes me more alert before the Grand Slam Final. Vishy Anand played great chess in Moscow and I think his win was well deserved. The day after the tournament I flew to Kaliningrad to take part in an event. Kaliningrad was an exciting experience, and it was a real treat to do a photo shoot in a landscape of gigantic sanddunes by the sea. Back in Oslo I have been busy shooting new press photos, meeting press, going to my old schools 30th anniversary, and Arctic Securities 4th year celebration. At the Arctic event I gave a simul against 16 opponents, winning all games. One of the participants brought his home made chess program which I found quite impressive, as well as making the event more challenging. I'm very much looking forward to go to Brazil for the 1st half of the Grand Slam final, which starts at the 26th of September. The second half will be held in Bilbao. Before that, I will do quite a few interviews in connection with Hallgeir Opedals new book about me, launched the 16th of September. I will also have a few days in Rio de Janeiro. Arctic Securities opens a new office in Rio, and I very much look forward to be a guest at the opening party the 20th of September. Oslo 13th of September Magnus Carlsen

2011-09-13 21:29:22

Botvinnik Memorial in Moscow

Iíve had a few quiet weeks after the tournament in Biel, but now the busy fall season starts with The Botvinnik Memorial. During the late summer break I spent some time at home in Oslo and a week of training in Marbella, Spain. Moscow is also showing itself from its best side. The weather is beautiful, and the players are generously hosted at the luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel, next to Kremlin. Today was quite busy. Both the press conference and the opening ceremony took place before the first round. It felt a little strange not to know whom I was playing until the drawing of lots took place half an hour before the first game. This tournament is most of all about honouring the memory of the legendary Mikhail Botvinnik, the former World Champion and the patriarch would have turned hundred this year. Botvinnik is one of the greatest chess players of all time, and he was also a pioneer in his scientific approach to the game. In that sense, The Centre of New Technologies was a nice choice of venue for the tournament. The actual tournament is a rapid tournament and has a section for men and a section for women. Both a double round robin with four players, six rounds all together. The men's section has the four highest rated players in the world. Having three players above 2800 in the same tournament I believe has only happened once before (Nanjing 2010). The three first rounds were played today, and the next three rounds will be played tomorrow. In the first round I was paired with the world number three, Levon Aronian from Armenia. He got a slight pressure from the opening, but not too much was going on until he too optimistically pushed with f5 and f6. After some nice tactics, I got a completely winning position, but I played a little carelessly and he somehow found a way to draw. In second round, I had white against the former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. I think I played quite interesting in the opening, but Kramnik introduced an inventive piece sacrifice yielding two pawns and a dangerous lead in development. I still thought my changes were good, but a draw was probably a fair result. In third round I was black against the current World Champion, Vishy Anand, usually a very tough task. This time somehow I got a promising position right from the start. He continued to play some strange moves, and at one point I got a technical winning position. Again I failed to take advantage. Missing a simple tactic I allowed him to level the position, and disheartened I offered a draw. He promptly accepted. Even if three draws are slightly disappointing, I think the games have been very interesting. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and being half a point behind leader Anand, I think I still have a chance. Victoria Cmilyte is leading the female section, but it's close as in our tournament. Magnus Carlsen, Moscow, September 2nd, 2011

2011-09-02 23:30:54

After Biel.

I annotated a game from Biel (Shirov-Carlsen) for chess magazines this weekend as last week was quite busy. Looking back at the summer tournaments, overall Bazna and Biel has been a step in the right direction from Tata 2011. Apart from lots of sports with friends, a week ago I received the Peer Gynt prize 2011 (handed out by the Norwegian parliament) up at Gaalaa and enjoyed the annual premiere outdoor performance of the Peer Gynt play by Henrik Ibsen. Friday I visited TV2 ďSommertidĒ. My next tournament is the Botvinnik ďMemorialĒ in Moscow early September, a rapid tournament together with world 2nd to 4th ranked Anand, Aronian and Kramnik (4th unless heís passed by Karjakin). Prior to the tournament Iíll do some training and enjoy the Norwegian summer, if it returns. Earlier this summer Liberation NEXT and British Esquire visited, and the interviews will appear in September I believe. Cheers! Magnus Carlsen, August 10th 2011

2011-08-10 23:38:51

Biel Accentus-GM 2011 Final round

I played the Philidor against Caruana today and was satisfied with the opening. Bc5! gave me an initiative and I was slightly better for most of the game. Despite being tired due to the early start of the round I think I fought well and did not make any obvious mistakes. He got somewhat low on time close to the time control but managed to find a good defense. I offered a draw after move 39 in an equal ending. In summary Iím fairly satisfied with both the overall result (clear 1st with 19/30 or 7/10 with classical score), a couple of rating points gained, my score with black (+2=2-1), as well as the fighting spirit shown. I made too many mistakes, which is not unusual for me when facing opponents below the top 20 despite being motivated to do my best. The high altitude stay in the Alps prior to the tournament was a success and Switzerland is one of my favorite countries. The organizer deserves praise for a well-organized tournament as well a unique social event! Magnus Carlsen, July 29th, 2011

2011-07-29 23:03:41

Biel GM tournament 2011 Round 9

Having the white pieces against Vachier-Lagrave I got a small but pleasant advantage from the opening. After consolidating the queenside I was ready to utilize the extra space on the kingside. He chose an active defense with f5, g5 and g4 and managed to find good defensive moves also after my doubling of rooks in the h-file. Beyond the first time control the position was equal, but eager to play for a win I went Qc1 ceding the initiative to black and had to play accurately myself afterwards. After Qd5 he offered a draw and I didnít find a way to play on. As Morozevich lost to Caruana Iíve won Biel GM tournament 2011 with one round to go! My three Norwegians pals playing the Masters tournament are doing okay as well, and my sister Ellen is placed 4th in the Main tournament with one round left! Tomorrows round starts at 11am. Stay tuned! Magnus Carlsen, July 28th, 2011

2011-07-29 00:59:11

Biel GM tournament 2011 Round 8

Second half of 2011 features more top-level chess tournaments than the first half quite typical for the yearly schedule. Still it is amazing to have had three simultaneous top-level events in 2nd half of July. The World Team Championship finished last weekend. Kudos to Armenia for another impressive team victory! Dortmund is underway with Kramnik as the clear leader after 6 rounds. I played Morozevich today and he surprised me in the opening with 13Ö Bd7. I couldnít find anything better than the game continuation. After the exchange of light pieces my advantage was rather symbolic. It soon petered out to a drawn rook and 4 pawns endgame and status quo in the top of the tournament table. Shirov and Lagrave both won and share third with 10 points on the overall standing (behind my 17 and Morozevich at 14). Two rounds to go! Magnus Carlsen, July 27th, 2011

2011-07-27 22:06:42

Biel Accentus GM tournament 2011 R7

As black against Shirov I got a tougher game than our round 2 encounter. Out of the opening I had compensation for the sacrificed pawn due to his isolated double e-pawns. In retrospect I feels like I started to drift somewhat in the middle game but Iím not sure where or how I could have improved. Both of us avoided any significant mistakes and the position was fairly balanced at the first time control although his king was slightly more vulnerable. Being able to stay focused and calculate well, Iím very satisfied with my play after the time control. He had to find some accurate moves and 46.Bd1 was probably his last chance to enter a drawish variation, but he missed it. Lastly I'd like to mention that I was pleased to find h5! after which it went quickly downhill for him. 0-1. Not a bad game today☺ Morozevich beat Lagrave to stay 3 points behind in 2nd place and our encounter tomorrow will probably decide the tournament outcome. Magnus Carlsen, July 26th, 2011

2011-07-27 00:59:16

Biel GM tournament 2011 Round 6

The Biel chess festival features several chess events and the free days are scheduled after round 3 and 5 in alignment with the major Open events. On the first free day I visited the Mayor of Biel, did some interviews and played tennis while yesterday with some football was fairly quiet in comparison. Regarding my round 5 loss against another 20 year old, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave the short version is simply that he played better than me. Todayís opponent Pelletier chose the French defense and I deviated from mainline theory fairly early. In the middle game I missed too much and the position was fairly equal. It looked drawish until he decided to swap queens with Bxd4 (instead of Bxc2). The position was still balanced but gave black more possibilities to go astray due to the back rank threats. He made a couple of mistakes and when I finally activated the dark-square bishop my bishops quickly dominated his kingside winning the f-pawn. 1-0. Always good to strike back after a loss! Iíve got a three points lead after 6 rounds. Morozevich-Shirov was a hard fought game with an advantage to Morozevich, but the latter managed to stir up enough counter play in mutual time trouble to save a draw in the end. Magnus Carlsen, July 25th, 2011

2011-07-26 12:23:49

Biel GM tournament 2011 Round 4

After the game today I heard about the horrible murderous double-attack on innocent people in and near Oslo this afternoon. Chess does not feel very important right now. I feel sorry for the victims and their families. I did win against Caruana albeit with a little help from him. The Scotch opening resulted in a fairly balanced position with only a small structural edge for white. With the exchange sacrifice Nd4! my position became quite pleasant as I could put pressure on Caruana without much risk. Later I played f4? too quickly and immediately afterwards spotted the response Ne3! Fortunately for me he seemed to have resigned mentally already a few moves earlier, and short on time he blundered with Re6 and resigned one move later. The other two games resulted in draws and I have a 4 point lead with 6 rounds left. Magnus Carlsen, July 22th, 2011

2011-07-23 00:08:49

Biel GM tournament 2011 R3

Another long fight today with the black pieces. Alexander Morozevich made a comeback to top level chess in the Russian Higher league in June and seems to be in good shape. None of us knew much about the rare 4.Bg5-line in the Grunfeld. By freezing the centre pawns I got a good initiative on the queenside in the late middle game and was quite optimistic about my chances. Morozevich kept came and found the necessary defensive as well as offensive resources available, and the position was probably within the drawing range even throughout the complicated queen and bishop versus queen and knight endgame. Shirov returned with a vengeance today against Caruana and is clear third at 4 points (behind me and Morozevich at 7 and 5) going into the first freeday (Thursday). Again I missed the Tour de France finish due to the long game... Just a few hundred kilometers south of Biel, Boasson Hagen secured another stage victory for his team and for Norway! The Norwegian contingent in Biel followed up with giving the Russian football team a good beating later in the evening☺ Magnus Carlsen, July 20th, 2011

2011-07-21 01:22:08

Biel GM tournament 2011 Round 2

Alexei Shirov is a reknown fighter with an impressive ability to calculate tactical lines. His rating has been unstable for many years but at his best he can win any tournament (as for instance Sofia 2009 and Shanghai 2010). After a somewhat lucky victory with white in Drammen back in 2005 Iíve had a number of tough encounters with Shirov and my white score is quite good. After the somewhat unusual 13.Nd4 e5 variation in the Slav the main benefit for white is probably that it is difficult to play black unless you are well prepared. Shirov spent most of his time on the next 6 moves but still ended up in a rather unpleasant position. In retrospect I feel I relaxed a bit too much at this point and probably didnít find the shortest way to victory. 26.Bc4 was based on the planned continuation 28.Rc6 which I did not like when discovering the subtleties of the Bxf2 variation. Despite the extra piece there does not seem to be an easy win for white, if any. I went for Rc8 instead. Short on time and with a vulnerable king he made two decisive mistakes and resigned a few moves later. 6 points after two games is quite unusual for me:-) (I had the same in London 2009 but after two white games.) Lagrave seemed to be winning against Morozevich but let him off the hook and later lost after an inexplicable piece blunder. Morozevich has 4 points in 2nd , Caruana in 3rd 2 points, the others 1 point. Wednesday Iím black against runner-up Morozevich at the usual time 2 pm. Magnus Carlsen, July 19th, 2011

2011-07-20 00:14:36

Biel GM tournament 2011

The 44th edition of the Biel tournament is one of the strongest ever (me, Vachier-Lagrave, Shirov, Caruana, Morozevich and Pelletier, resulting in category 19). I played in Biel 4 years in a row from 2005 and have always enjoyed the atmosphere and lots of football in the evenings. As in 2005 and 2006 the whole family spent a week in the Swiss mountains prior to the tournament. The high attitude walks felt as just the right preparation for a 10 round tournament. After the Zermatt stay, I also visited Zurich giving a presentation in the local chess club and doing a simul last Saturday (28-2-0). The drawing of lots are not of critical importance in a double round robin, but black against Pelletier (2590) in the first round was not obviously ideal. Iím glad that in the end it worked out well. The complicated middle game position resulting from the 9Ö.b6 Grunfeld variation allowed my opponent to make some minor mistakes. The pawn up ending was not at all easy to convert. Trading off the last pair of rooks, the queen ending with 2+2 against 3 kingside pawns should be winning though. He defended well but close to move 90 he resigned as he could no longer stop my b-pawn. 0-3 ! (Biel uses football score.) Shirov-Morozevich and Caruana-Lagrave both ended draw. Magnus Carlsen, July 18th, 2011

2011-07-19 01:08:47

Winning Kingsí Tournament 2011 on Tie-break!

Iíd like to forget my game against co-leader S.Karjakin as quickly as possible. On another off-day (the first was round 6 against Nakamura), I really missed a lot and quickly squandered my slight opening advantage. Knowing that a draw would provide the 1st prize on better tie-break and 1st place on the July 1, 2011 FIDE rating list, the result itself was fully acceptable today. Karjakin, also on 6.5 points, played very well and moves up the rating list to 4th. 4th and 5th seeds Nakamura and Radjabov ended 3rd and 4th both at 4.5 points. Overall Iím quite satisfied with my level of play in this tournament. Opposition clearly was better than last year, but I was not in real trouble in any of my games. Generally taking the chances I got, I think my opponents simply made less mistakes this time around. Iíd like thank the main sponsor Romgaz, the organizer headed by Elisabeta Polihroniade and all the helpful and pleasant people involved in the organization of the event and at the Expro spa hotel for a memorable and great event! My next tournament is in Biel in Switzerland July 18-29. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 22nd 2011

2011-06-22 09:10:02

Kingsí Tournament 2011 Ė Round 9

Todayís games went according to the ideal script of an organizer, there is a tie for 1st before the last round. I would not have been opposed to maintaining my lead, but things turned out differently today. As black against Nisipeanu I again went for the Breyer in the Ruy Lopez and decided to take some risk in the early middle game. 16Ö.exd4 17.cxd4 d5 clearly is double-edged. Nisipeanu might not have chosen the most critical continuation but the line he did choose did not give much room for black either. When he sacrificed the exchange on d4 the only likely outcome was a draw. Ivanchuk has been out of form most of this tournament. It was not pleasant to watch this great player blitz out a string of poor moves to lose in 22 moves and 75 minutes against Karjakin. Tomorrow Iím white against co-leader Karjakin. The last round starts two hours earlier, ie 1:30 PM local time. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 21st 2011

2011-06-21 01:00:19

Bazna Kingsí Tournament 2011 Ė R8

The opening phase went fine today as black against Radjabov. He seemed a bit surprised by my choice of the Queen Gambit Declined and the 6Ö.b6 variation. Spending nearly an hour investigating an attacking line starting with h4, he instead went for exchanges on c5 and pressure in the c-file. White has some initiative compensating for his potentially vulnerable king, but black holds easily. When I finally played 22Ö.Ne4 I was quite optimistic about my position, as some tactical motifs are appearing and white needs to thread carefully. 24Ö.Rcd8 was maybe not the most critical way to test his defenses. I had missed Qb2 and had to take a perpetual check or play on with three extra pawns for his bishop. The latter did not look very tempting, and I went for the perpetual. All games were drawn today. The recent heat wave culminated in heavy rains during and after the game. Anyhow the pizza in Sighisoara was as tasty as last time☺ Nisipeanu is next. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 19th

2011-06-19 23:52:28

Kingsí Tournament 2011 Ė R7

Today I had white against Ivanchuk. He responded to 1.d4 with the quite popular Ragozin with 4Ö. Bb4, reaching a classical isolani-pawn position where black needs to activate his pieces. I did not manage to get much of an advantage in the middle game as he defended accurately. The ending was slightly better for white but without serious winning chances. As I was low on time Ivanchuk decided to play quickly. It contributed to some inaccuracies on critical junctions. On my part I managed to reach both time controls without mistakes. It is fair to say that I played a reasonably good game, although I needed some cooperation from Ivanchuk to win in the end. As the others drew, Iím back in sole lead with 5 out of 7 ! My remaining games are black against Radjabov and Nisipeanu and finally white against runner-up Karjakin on Tuesday. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 18th

2011-06-19 00:04:43

Kingsí Tournament 2011 Ė R6

What's happened in 6 days? Same opponent as in round 1, but today I just wanted to finish the game. I didnít sleep well and was happy to force a repetition of moves around move 30. Nakamura was visibly unhappy but realistic enough to take the draw instead of playing on in a slightly worse position. He didnít get much of an advantage from the opening. His d5 closing the pawn structure in the Ruy Lopez resulted in a positional game with only a tiny edge for white initially. When he traded rooks in the a-file black, if any, is probably slightly better. On a normal day I would have continued, but today the early draw suited me just fine. I thoroughly enjoyed the excellent pizza in Sighisoara below the hills of the castle of Vlad Tepes (Dracula) afterwards. Karjakin won a long endgame struggle against Nisipeanu to join me at 4/6 with 4 rounds to go. I will be fit for fight again tomorrow as white against Ivanchuk. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 17th

2011-06-17 21:17:32

Kingsí Tournament 2011 Free day - halfway

The tournament schedule was changed slightly the day before the tournament to facilitate advancing the closing ceremony to the 21st in the evening. Today was the only free day, and as ďusualĒ a football match with the players, seconds and journalists against the local organizers was staged indoor in Medias. Karjakinís second Motylev is not only a strong grandmaster, his football skills contributed to a clear victory for ďourĒ team. Last year I had 3.5 points halfway through the tournament as well, but there the resemblance stops. I was a bit rusty and needed the margins on my side to get going with the turnaround in round 4 last year. This year Iím in good shape and have not had any problems so far. Letís hope it stays this way! Friday Iím black against Nakamura in round 6. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 16th

2011-06-16 22:51:51

Kingsí Tournament 2011 Ė Round 5

Last year Nisipeanu (2662) surprised me with the Jaenisch gambit and the game ended with draw. I was determined to make better use of the white pieces this year. The opening looks fairly innocuous with the queen swap on move 8 and a nearly symmetrical position. Playing black is not easy though. White has an initiative, and his 11Ö. Bd6 effectively granted me the bishop pair. In the continuation there was not much black could do. I could improve my position gradually advancing on the kingside with h3, g4, h4, g5. After the opening of the h-file and 26.Bd3! (aiming for e4) he was more or less lost. Short on time a few more inaccuracies shortened his suffering. 1-0 and I think a played a very decent game! Karjakin beat Ivanchuk with the black pieces with the beautiful 16Ö. Bxh3!! He is now in sole 2nd half a point behind me. It seems as if the tennis the evenings prior to round 4 and 5 worked out well! Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 16th

2011-06-16 22:46:35

Kingsí Tournament 2011 Ė R4

Sergey Karjakin became a GM at 12 - the youngest ever. He is from the Russian part of Ukraine but now represents Russia and lives in Moscow. As black I went for 1.e4 c6 and the Caro-Kann variation. After the opening my nice-looking pawn on d4 was likely to fall eventually, but it restricted whiteís play and compensated for structural weaknesses on blacks queenside. After the game Karjakin said he was unhappy about his position, and this explains his surprising c5-push exchanging his c-pawn for my b-pawn. After Qd5! black is better. He spent well above half an hour on his next move and found one of several good defenses. After simplifications his active rooks prevented me from making any progress despite my extra pawn in the two rook and knight endgame. I eventually returned the pawn and we drew just before the 1st time control. The others drew as well, and Iím still sole leader. After the 1st round win I climbed back to the no 1 spot on the live rating list. Each draw against somewhat lower rated opponents costs me points but Iím still marginally ahead. On the last round before the free day, Iím white against Nisipeanu Wednesday. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 14th

2011-06-14 23:21:40

Bazna Kings Tournament 2011 Ė Round 3

Todayís opponent Teimur Radjabov won the U18 World Championship already back in 1999 at the age of 12. Weíve already played some 20 classical games and many blitz and rapids. Iíve won several classical games against him from 2007 onwards. In line with my comment about the Queens Gambit Declined not necessarily being a draw in 15 moves after the 1st round victory, I went for 1.d4 once more. Today Radjabov proved me wrong, it is a draw after 15 moves☹ Seriously, I did not get anything out of the opening as his structural problems were compensated for by active pieces. I felt the f4-break was my only chance to play for a win, but he found active continuations. His knight dominated my bishop until it had captured the b-pawn in return for one of his doubled e-pawns. The rook ending with 1+4 versus 2+3 pawns was slightly better for black if any, and I accepted his draw offer just before the time control. Nisipeanu trapped the black king nicely in the centre in a Berlin wall variation against Ivanchuk. Despite missing a couple of fairly obvious wins in time trouble the home favorite eventually won the pawn-up rook and bishop ending convincingly. Consequently Iím sole leader at +1 with Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Karjakin and Nisipeanu trailing at 50%. Tennis in the sun after the game hopefully served as the right preperation for the game Tuesday. Iím black against Karjakin in round 4. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 13th

2011-06-13 23:51:23

Bazna Kings Tournament 2011 Ė Round 2

When V.Ivanchuk won this tournament in 2009 it took place in Bazna. This year each player has a car with driver for the 18 km trip to the playing venue in Medias. Probably unaware of this Ivanchuk caught a ride in ďmyĒ car yesterday. As both won the first round and chessplayers are notoriously superstitious when it comes to tournament habits, we might have wanted to continue the tradition if not for the fact that we faced off in round 2. I was black and as always it was difficult to guess in advance what Ivanchuk would pull out of his hat for the occasion. In a quiet Roy Lopez with d3 I eventually decided on a somewhat forced continuation with b5 and d5. Following the exchange of pawns on e4 I invaded the d-file with my queen with compensation for the backward and vulnerable a-pawn. After a two-fold repetition of moves Ivanchuk deviated with h3 allowing a5 and my potential problem was solved. The position was equal without much life left, and a draw was agreed on move 33. Radjabov pursued his structural advantage against Karjakin until move 90 but had to concede a draw in the end. Nakamura bounced back after outmaneuvering Nisipeanu from an equal position around the 2nd time control. White against 5th seeded Radjabov tomorrow! Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 12th

2011-06-13 00:19:07

Kings Tournament Bazna 2011 Ė Round 1

I donít know what I would have said in the blog if I had lost today. Feeling rested and physically and mentally fit for fight I canít think of any plausible excuses. My opponent Hikaru Nakamura (rated 2774) went for the popular Queenís Gambit which held up excellently for black in the Kazan Candidates last month. He played the interesting idea 6Ö.Bg4 and I spent some 15 minutes on the next few moves. Ready for a fight I exchanged bishops on g6 to create a weakness on his kingside and castled long. After pondering half an hour (probably looking for active play) he responded with the aggressive b7-b5-b4. With h2-h4-h5 I felt my attack somehow should crash through, but he fought well for a long time. In time trouble he started to make a few inaccuracies and in the end he had too many pawn weaknesses in addition to a vulnerable king. With some two seconds left and a hopeless ending he resigned. My most recent white score against Nakamura is now 4 out of 4. Knock on woodÖ V. Ivanchuk played a very good game defeating Radjabov in his pet Kings Indian while Nisipeanu Ė Karjakin was a short but tense draw. Tomorrow Iím black against co-leader Ivanchuk. Stay tuned! Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 11th

2011-06-11 23:41:09

Kings Tournament Bazna Ė Opening Ceremony

Back home parts of Norway experience the worst flood in years so we should be grateful for the little rain here in Bazna, and next week supposedly will be very sunny and warm. The Opening ceremony and drawing of lots took place in the playing venue in a Romgaz centre and museum building in Medias. The category 21, 6-player double round robin tournament is stronger than last year with 4 players from the top 8 - me, Ivanchuk, Karjakin and Nakamura - as well as Candidate Radjabov and the strongest Romanian player Nisipeanu. Quite a crowd and a number of journalists showed up for the well-organized session today. As I told my father and sister in the car from Bazna I would do, I picked a low starting number and white in round one. My first opponent is once again Hikaru Nakamura (as in Tal Blitz 2010 and Amber 2011) and I look forward to a great fight! Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 10th

2011-06-10 23:57:20

Bazna coming up!

Coming off a ten weeks tournament break after Amber it feels great to be back in Bazna for the Kings Tournament! The sporting highlights for me this late spring have been the epic Real Madrid Ė Barcelona clashes. I watched Copa del Rey and the first Champions League semifinal live. What an atmosphere! Early May featured a pleasant and interesting customer event with Simonsen Lawyers. The Candidates in Kazan undoubtedly was a tense affair for all the participants. But with four classical games only, not much risk was taken resulting in too many draws and too many short draws. Consequently the spectators could enjoy a number of riveting tie-breaks resulting in a number of surprises. My congratulations to the winner B.Gelfand! His last round win against Grischuk was very impressive. Boris is a pleasant and nice person, and especially for a Barca-supporter☺ Flying via Munich we arrived in Sibiu yesterday followed by the 70 km drive to Bazna. Opening ceremony and drawing of lots in Medias later today. Magnus Carlsen, Bazna, June 10th

2011-06-10 14:00:50

Amber 2011 Final stages

Round 10 and 11 are old news by now. I struggled to get the necessary wins in the Blindfold while Rapid continued with two more smooth wins. I was very satisfied with my rapid games against both Grischuk and Gelfand. A point behind Aronian before the last day it was all decided in the blindfold against Gelfand. I went for an unusual and tactical position from the opening with Ncb5 but he defended impressively accurate. When it was my turn to find the critical moves I went astray and the rook against knight and bishop was just lost for me. Levon Aronian won the overall competition with +9, an amazing score against such elite competition. He also won the Blindfold section. Congratulations! I came second overall ahead of V.Anand who was the only other player with a plus score. My ambition before the tournament was clearly to win but Iím actually very satisfied with repeating the +7 score from last year and especially with the strong 9.5/11 and clear first in the Rapid section. The hotel in Monaco was absolutely first class and so was the organization of the event. The last edition of the Amber Rapid & Blindfold was a highly memorable experience. As a young player, the Amber tournament represented one of the pinnacles of top chess and winning the qualification back in August 2006 made a dream come through. I feel fortunate and grateful to have been invited to participate five times in row. Thank you Muriel and Joop van Oosterom! Magnus Carlsen, March 25th 2011

2011-03-26 22:12:12

Amber 2011, Round 8&9

A few days have gone by since the last entry now. My opponents in the last two rounds have been the World Championship finalists of 2010, Topalov and Anand. The first of these games, as black against Topalov was a Ruy Lopez that saw mass exchanges and a quick draw. In the rapid game I managed to trick him in the opening, and I quickly got an overwhelming position, which I converted with energetic play. After the free day, as white in the blindfold game against Anand I repeated the opening I had played in the rapid game two days before. This time I was not quite as successful, and I quickly got a worse position. It still was by no means easy for black, and I managed to create enough counter play to take the game into a roughly equal ending. Unfortunately, I immediately blundered and a few moves later he could have forced the win. He missed this though, and as a result I obtained excellent drawing chances. A few moves later I could have forced the draw with a nice sequence of moves, but I decided to make an intermediate move to limit his options. However, I had missed an elementary trick, which immediately forced my resignation. As black in the rapid game we quickly left the beaten track, and a position with mutual chances quickly appeared. I was quite happy about my play in the following moves, as I managed to stall his queen side play and get my own king side play going in an economical way. He did not defend in the best way possible, and I managed to break through both on the king side and the queen side. He resigned on move 43, a pawn down on both flanks in a hopeless endgame. As a result I am still in second place with 12/18 , a whole point behind Aronian, who continues to score extremely well. In blindfold my result is still mediocre at best, with 50%. In rapid however, I am in excellent shape with 7.5/9 including victories in all my black games. My opponents in last two round are (in that order) Grischuk and Gelfand, who are at +1 and -2 respectively. A lot can still happen! Magnus Carlsen, Monaco 22.03.2011

2011-03-23 03:19:44

Amber 2011 Round 7

Former World Champion Kramnik is known for his match victory against Kasparov back in 2000 and can still be a formidable opponent. In Amber this year he has not been in his best form. Anyhow I did not expect an easy match after my recent experience against Ivanchuk (who has continued to surge and is back at 50% score and shared 5th place after beating Anand and Grischuk 1,5-0,5 in round 6 and 7). I did not get anything from the opening as white in the blindfold game but decided to turn down his (quite usual) draw offer around move 22. I gradually got the upper hand but slipped and at some point he could have had the better endgame. Instead I won a pawn and managed to convert due to the advancing b-pawn. 1-0 after 91 moves and nearly two hours of blindfold chess. In the rapid game the fight was about d5 and in the end he was forced to take with his pawn resulting in a Benoni-like position but without two minor pieces. It was fairly even until he blundered badly with Qb7 allowing Rxe3 two moves later. 2-0 and Iíve won against Kramnik in all disciplines (classic, rapid, blindfold and blitz) over the last 4 months. Aronian won 1,5-0,5 against Gelfand and is sole leader with 10/14. Iím second at 9.5 with Anand in 3rd another 1,5 points behind, but he is playing Aronian tomorrow and a lot can still change at the top. My opponent tomorrow is Topalov and we are playing in the second group at 4pm. Not to forget the most important match; I beat my old man in bowling this evening☺ Magnus Carlsen, Nice, March 19th 2011

2011-03-20 00:32:36

Amber 2011 Round 5 & 6

The fact that after four double rounds the tail-ender may beat the leader in such an even leveled field is no big surprise, but it required a real meltdown from me to lose 0-2 against Ivanchuk the way I did yesterday. Momentarily missing his king placement I blundered out of the opening and instead of suffering a pawn down and with a miserable position I gave my queen for two knights. As opposed to what Ivanchuk let happen in his game against Aronian the round before, he did not allow me any counterplay. In the rapid game I mixed up the move order and Ivanchuk proceeded to play a good game until I allowed a mate-in-one in a lost position. Aronian won 2-0 against Gashimov to take a clear 1,5 point lead over Anand in second. The downturn could well have continued for me in the first game today. The French defence worked well against Sergey Karjakin until I blundered positionally with a5. He grabbed a pawn leaving his knight on h8 and later correctly sacrificed his other knight on d5 when I tried to create counterplay by marching my king to b4. I believe he missed out on a beautiful winning combination but instead moves were repeated and a draw was agreed. The rapid game felt like a turn of the tide when I got a promising position out of the Ruy Lopez. As could have been expected in this kind of position the strength of the white squared bishop over his knight brought out too many concessions from his side and my a-pawn decided the game. After 6 rounds and 12 games Iím in 2nd place one point behind Aronian as he blundered and lost his rapid game against Grichuk, who now shares 3rd place with Anand. Iím leading the rapid section with 4.5/6 and play Kramnik tomorrow. Magnus Carlsen, Nice, March 18th 2011

2011-03-19 02:05:40

Amber 2011, 4th round

The fourth day was another good day for me, as I won 1.5-0.5 and kept the lead (shared with Aronian, who won with the same score). The blindfold game against Giri was not really a spectacular game affair, but from a quiet opening I gradually developed some initiative, and it looked set to be a long and painful defense for him. However, on move 29 I made a crucial mistake by keeping the dark-squared bishops on rather than exchanging them. After that he equalized easily, and a draw was agreed on move 41. In the blindfold game I chose an unusual opening as black, and got a reasonable position. After he miscalculated and lost a pawn, I thought the endgame would be a matter of technique. Luckily for him, it turned out that he actually had excellent drawing chances. However, my pawn advantage still amounted to something, and I eventually managed to convert my extra pawn in a knight ending to score an important win. Today was a rest day, and it was time for the traditional laser game. Unfortunately, despite my greatest efforts my team lost to the more experienced Dutchmen. Tomorrow my opponent is Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian genius, who came from an outstanding result in Gibraltar, has not had a good tournament so far, but is always a very dangerous and unpredictable opponent. Magnus Carlsen, Monaco 16.03.2011

2011-03-16 23:56:55

Amber 2011, 3rd round

Two draws today. I am not going to say much about the blindfold game, cause there is not much to say. With black I arrived from the opening with a very solid position, and not much happened until the draw was agreed on move 37. The rapid game was a completely different affair. I got a very pleasant position from the opening, and soon won a pawn. I could then consolidate my extra pawn, but incredibly I went for another, more complicated continuation, which led to an imbalanced, unclear position which I had earlier thought was much better for white. It was still probably better for white, but I continued to drift, even blundering two pawns in one move at some point ("quite an achievement"- Aronian). I was then lost, but contrary to my rapid game with him in 2009, where I proceeded to lose a completely winning position, Aronian could not finish me of this time, and the game ended with a draw on move 37. Thus, I am still sharing the lead with Aronian with 4.5/6. Since Grischuk lost 1.5-0.5 today, he is now sharing 3rd place with Anand. Perhaps fittingly, the three highest rated players in the world are the only ones who have not lost a game yet. My opponent tomorrow is the 16 year old Giri, and I will certainly be eager to gain revenge from my dreadful (I cannot think of a nicer word :) loss against him in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year Magnus Carlsen, Monaco 14.03.2011

2011-03-15 21:15:37

Amber 2011, 2nd round

As mentioned before, my opponent today was Gashimov, one of four players with a perfect score after day 1. From a quiet opening as white in the blindfold , I gradually got an initiative, which eventually led to a pawn ending, where material was equal but I had the more active king. After he rightly decided to counterattack we ended up in a queen endgame by force, where I had an extra h-pawn. It was a tablebase draw, but by no means an easy one, and after he made a critical mistake on move 74, I managed to queen my pawn and win the game. In the rapid I thought I had gotten a pleasant position from the opening, but with with energetic play he managed to keep a tiny edge into the endgame. However, then I found a very good plan with a rook transfer from h8 to c6. He then started to drift a bit, and I gained a clear initiative on the queenside. Running short of time he could not find the best defense in an increasingly sharp position, and had to resign on move 49 as my connected passed pawns were queening. Overall a very good day. I am pleased both with the quality of my play, and obviously the result. As a result of my 2-0 win I moved into the lead, which I share with Grischuk, and Aronian, who is also my opponent tomorrow. I obviously would not mind a repeat of last years result, when I beat him 2-0 :) Magnus Carlsen, Monaco 13.03.2011

2011-03-14 01:22:26

Amber 2011, 1st round

My opponent today was Hikaru Nakamura from the US. He has been in great form recently, and won the Tata Steel tournament in January, where I shared 3-4th place. However, I had won our last two mutual encounters, so I was feeling pretty good about my chances nonetheless. As black in the blindfold game, I was surprised in the opening, and instead of following theory I could barely remember I decided to improvise. However, things soon went wrong, and with energetic play my opponent obtained a very promising position. He didn't make the most of it however, and with good defense the game was heading for a draw. In the end we arrived at an opposite colored bishop ending, which was a dead draw despite his extra pawn. Then something interesting happened. I tried to make the move Bf6-d4, only to receive the message from the computer that I had just made an illegal move. I then realized that my bishop had been on e5 for the last few moves. This would have been an insignificant difference were it not for the fact that he had put his rook on c7 several times, where it can be captured by the bishop on e5. My opponent confirmed after the game that he had been suffering from the exact same illusion, that the bishop was on f6 instead of e5. The rapid game went much more smoothly. Out of a Slav defense I soon got the opportunity to sacrifice a bishop for three pawns and an enduring initiative. I then proceeded to increase the pressure further, and when I got the chance to sacrifice a further exchange, leaving me a full rook down, the domination of my pieces was so great that I thought I would win in a few moves. Things were not that simple though. Very short of time he found a few good defensive moves, and for the next few minutes I looked in vain for a forced win, and lost my whole time advantage. However, I managed to find a couple of excellent moves, and forced his resigned on move 40. Overall a good start, although due to a very unusual amount of decisive games, I'm only sharing 5-6th place with Anand, with 4 players on 2/2. One of those four is Gashimov, who beat Ivanchuk today, and will be my opponent tomorrow. Should be fun! Magnus Carlsen, Monaco, 12.03.2011

2011-03-12 23:41:28

Amber 2011. Finally!

Later today most of the world elite will play blindfold and rapid chess once again in Monaco. Iím facing Amber rookie H.Nakamura in the first blindfold session at 14:30 with the black pieces. At 17:45 the colors are reversed for the rapid game. Unfortunately itís the last edition of the magnificent Amber Rapid & Blindfold, the more reason to enjoy the next fortnight for both players and spectators. Again I would like to thank Joop & Muriel van Oosterom for sponsoring this great event. The opening was Friday evening, with the drawing of lots and the traditional dinner. Entertainment was provided by the sand animator Kseniya Simonova who gave an amazing show. This time we are staying at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel 15 minutes walk from the casino and Cafť de Paris. Definitely a suitable location for the 20th edition of Amber. I arrived Thursday from Mallorca following a training camp in the sun. The close to 6 weeks between Tata and Amber is the longest tournament break since last summer, and I cannot wait to get started! Magnus Carlsen, Monaco, March 12th 2011

2011-03-12 00:33:42

Mexico, NYC and home

After finishing The Tata Steel Tournament I was really keen to spend some days in the sun, a week in Mexico before going to NYC for the fashion week was great! 28 degrees C, both in the air and in the water. We spent most of the time on different activities, tennis and watersports. A great way to recover from a tournament. I arrived in NYC a few days before the fashion show. After three trips in less than a year, I have learned to enjoy this amazing city. This time I also got the chance to visit two Knicks games in MSG. I was rooting for the Knicks, but the results were disappointing and I could only symphatize with the many New Yorkers present. This was the second time I participated as a guest of G-Star at the Fashion Week. It's a lot going on in quite a short amount of time. Mostly interviews with different fashion magazines the days before the show and on the day of the show. At the fashion show I walked the red carpet/pressline and saw the G-Star show from first row. After the show G-Star hosted a great party at the Lincoln Centre. It's always nice to come home, even though this trip was a lot of fun and the weather in Oslo still freezing cold. A couple of days after coming back, I gave a simul at a big student party that one of my sponsors, Simonsen law firm, organized. I played ten students and Simonsen promised to pay one years student loan to any of the players who could beat me. Well, they didn`t have to pay the prize, but I am sure the 450 students attending had a great party anyway. All the games could be watched on electronic boards on the wall, a professional referee explained the rules and oversaw it all. Simonsen had also hired one of the best Norwegian comedians as a commentator. I have a few more quiet weeks before the Amber tournament in Monaco. I'll make the best of it and I'm really looking forward to play again! Best, Magnus

2011-02-25 01:17:11

Tata Steel 2011 Final round and results

All games drawn in the last round yesterday. I went for the unorthodox Chigorin against Grischuk and was worse out of the opening. My opponent has had a rough tournament and decided to play relatively safe. When his advantage started to evaporate and time trouble could become an issue he went for a drawish line and a draw was agreed. 8/13 points is not bad, it brought me shared 1st three years ago. Combined with victories against both the winner Nakamura and former World Champion Kramnik, I cannot be dissatisfied with the tournament. This time I came shared third as Nakamura and Anand deservedly took sole 1st and sole 2nd with 9 and 8,5 points. Congratulations to both! The Tata Steel Chess tournament, former Corus, as always a well organized and pleasant event, and I hope to be back in the not too distant future. Travelling back to Norway today, followed by a week vacation in the sun and then New York Fashion next ☺ Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 31th 2011

2011-01-31 17:39:00

Tata 2011 Penultimate Round

The standard top level tournament lasts 10 rounds these days and it is good that Wijk aan Zee maintain the traditional format of 14 players single round robin (13 rounds) Today was the penultimate round and I had the white pieces against Wang Hao. We left mainline theory of the Caro-Kann early. It was a positional struggle taking place on both sides of the board. I think he had underestimated the threat Bg4! His last couple of moves prior to this left him with a highly vulnerable kingside and the attack just rolled. I found a nice piece sacrifice and with my three remaining pieces pointing towards his king he resigned before move 30 in face of mate or heavy material loss. Nakamura against Kramnik was a draw in 30 minutes. Anand-Giri was heading for another sensation when Giri blundered his extra pawn in one move and a draw was agreed in the double rook ending. Nakamura is sole leader with 8.5 points followed by Anand at 8 and Aronian and me at 7.5 points. In the final round tomorrow the two leaders and I all play black so there might still be a little excitement left in the tournament☺ Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 29th 2011

2011-01-30 00:15:31

Tata Steel Chess 2011 Round 10 & 11

A few days ago I said that round 7 and 8 turned out very differently for me. I should have kept this comment for rounds 10 and 11! I played the reigning Russian Champion Ian Nepomniachtchi already back in 2002 when he won both the Youth European and World Championships U-12. Wednesday I was white against him in round 10. The tournament situation dictated a must-win situation and when he equalized in the sharp Najdorf variation After a few repetitions I felt I had to play on but had missed his Qd7! I thought I was lost but found several only moves and was a bit surprised when he avoided a perpetual with Qc8. Afterwards he outplayed me, I had to give up an exchange and was defeated in the end. Today I was black against Kramnik. He was slightly better in the early middle game the but went straight into a nice trap with Qxa5? His subsequent draw offer was not difficult to turn down as black was clearly somewhat better. He found the cunning defense Qe3 after which the endgame is probably drawn with best play despite my extra pawn. However, he allowed both g6 and g5 without entering my kingside and when he allowed my king to infiltrate via f1 it is lost for white. 0-1 after more than six hours play. Tired but satisfied right now:-) Nakamura won both round 10 and 11 to take sole lead with 8/11 followed by Anand at 7.5, Aronian at 7 and me and Kramnik in shared 4th at 6.5 points. Tomorrow I have white against Chinese Wang Hao. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 28th 2011.

2011-01-29 00:57:05

Tata Steel Chess 2011 Round 9

In round 9 today against French M. Vachier-Lagrave I did not expect an easy game. He shared 3rd to 6th place with me, Aronian and Kramnik and has played well in this tournament. I decided to play the Berlin wall against his Ruy Lopez. It was quite an interesting middle game and after his Nd4 black is probably slightly better. I tried to find ways to complicate the game but he played active good moves and in the end it petered out to a drawn ending. Both Aronian and Kramnik won with white to join the leaders at +3. Iím still half a point behind with 4 rounds to go. Everything set for an exciting finish☺ Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 25th 2011.

2011-01-26 00:16:03

Tata Steel R7 & R8

Round 7 and 8 turned out very differently for me. Against reigning World Champion V.Anand in round 7 I got nothing out of the opening. I must admit it was a bit of a surprise that he played the Sicilian, that he subsequently chose the 6Ö e6 line and that he knew or found the way to equalize after 9.Nce2. After exchange of queens he offered an early draw which I decided to accept. Nakamura use the chance to win again to take sole lead. In round 8 Sunday I played white against Nakamura and as opposed to the day before I felt both good and very ambitious. He played the Sicilian against my 1.e4 and I went for the aggressive 9.g4. In the middle game his moves was all pretty natural but Qc5 was probably one preparatory move too many. After 20.g6 black is fighting an up hill battle. In a difficult position he blundered with 28Ö. Qxd5 which loses by force to the bishop sacrifice Bxh6! Going into the free day Monday six players were within half a point with Anand and Nakamura in the lead. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 25th 2011.

2011-01-26 00:15:24

Tata Steel Chess 2011 Round 6

No blunders, no missed opportunitiesÖ. I think I played a good game today! My opponent was the third (and last) Dutchman Iím up against in this tournament, Jan Smeets (2662). He started the tournament with a nice win against Shirov but later he has struggled. I went for the Berlin defense in the Ruy Lopez. White has the pawn majority on the king side and black the bishop pair. Contrary to conventional wisdom it is a rich and complicated opening and Smeets spent most of his time on the first 20 moves. He was already slightly worse after the rook lift to d3 and c3, and in ensuing time trouble he made several inaccuracies. A pawn down with more to come he resigned. Nakamura won against líAmi after the latter turned down a draw offer early on to catch Anand at 4.5 points. Iím shared 3rd with 3.5 points facing Anand and Nakamura with the white pieces Saturday and Sunday! Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 21th 2011.

2011-01-22 00:09:17

My first win in Tata Steel 2011

A lot can happen in a seven hour game. My opponent Erwin líAmi is the lowest rated participant in the A-group but he played well for a long time today. I sacrificed a pawn in the middle game without getting more than adequate compensation but kept up the pressure towards the first time control. He erred on move 39, and after move 40 I spent 40 minutes trying to find a winning line. Probably there was none until he starting going astray in the sixth hour. Amazingly I missed stalemate tricks twice. First I played 62.Bc1 having missed 65Ö. Ne3! Later I had planned 72.Rh8 only to discover another stalemate theme and with few seconds left on the clock played Rh2 in desperation letting him off the hook. The ensuing Rook + Knight against Rook ending is of course a theoretical draw but when pushed against the h-file he blundered with Kf3 dropping his rook. 1-0. Not a perfect game in any way, I appreciate the full point nevertheless. Anand took advantage of a blunder by Smeets to take sole lead with 4 out of 5 ahead of Nakamura at 3.5 points. Iím shared sixth at 2.5 points. Tomorrow Iím black against Jan Smeets. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 20th 2011.

2011-01-21 00:44:28

Tata Steel Chess 2011 Round 3 & 4

The highlights for me the last few days was the traditional football match against the Dutch squad today as well as the even more traditional sponsor dinner with Tata executives yesterday. The round 3 and 4 results were less notable. In the game against Anish Giri Monday I had the white pieces but allowed him to equalize with a nice sequence out of the opening. Shortly after I blundered a whole piece due to an elementary oversight and felt no urge to continue the game. 0-1. Yesterday as black against Ponomariov I found a way into a Hedgehog-like position and was doing all right. He had put a knight on c6 and I had the choice between the adequate resource Nb8 or the more aggressive Ne5 both aimed at attacking his knight. I chose the latter due to an oversight far down a long line (which turns out to be losing). After his Bf4 I discovered the fault in the intended line and had to find close to ten only-moves to survive his ambush. A draw was agreed in a fairly equal ending. The number of oversights has been much to high on my part in the first four rounds but the fact that I pulled myself together and defended well when required yesterday counts as a plus going into the next four rounds Thursday to Sunday. Anand beat Wang Hao yesterday to join early leader Nakamura at the top with 3 out of 4 points. With 1.5 points Iíve got some catching up to do. Thursday Iím white against Dutch Erwin līAmi. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 19th 2011.

2011-01-20 01:55:17

Tata Steel Chess 2011 R2

My opponent today was elite veteran Alexei Shirov. He went for the Scotch with 10.Ba3 and after my long castle on move 12 we were out of theory. I felt sharp today and I think I played a good game. Shirov had to find several precise moves to maintain the balance. He did, and in the end I had nothing better than a perpetual check and a draw. Most other games in the A-group ended draw as well except for Hao - Nepomniachtchi 0-1, and four players are at +1 after 2 rounds. Real sunny day in Wijk, but after the game I watched football in the hotel and went for a late night stroll instead. Monday Iím white against home-favorite Anish Giri who qualified for the A-group by winning the B-group last year. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 16th 2011.

2011-01-17 00:36:03

Tata Steel C T 2011 Round 1

Exciting round in Wijk today! Smeets-Shirov was the first to finish. In Bilbao I put a knight on a7 against Shirov and posed problems he couldnít solve, and the same happened today yielding Smeets the full point. Aronian and I were next to finish. Something went wrong in my preparation for the game and the 30 minutes extra on the clock wasnít much of a consolation for my poor prospects in the sharp middle game. A pawn down, my kingside was as vulnerable as his and after exchanging queens black was slightly better. Aronian went for a line leading to a forced draw as he seemed to have missed hxg6! and the game ended with perpetual checks after just 2 hours. Nakamura won against Grischuk and Anand against Ponomariov. Tomorrow Iím black against Shirov, and next Iíve got white against Giri and black against Ponomariov before the first free day Wednesday. A game of squash in nearby Beverwijk this evening did me well, and I look forward to the next games. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 15th 2011.

2011-01-16 00:38:22

Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2011

As last year I arrived in seaside Wijk aan Zee well in advance of the tournament. (Already Wednesday.) Yesterday was quite busy with interviews and also the traditional Grandmaster groups Meet and Greet in Hotel Zeeduin (where the A-group players are staying). Earlier in the day I met my Danish friend GM Peter H. Nielsen and started looking forward to playing some Nintendo Wii-games only to discover that he was here as a second for V.Anand. A G-star press conference in London publicised the next female model, Gemma Arterton. Iíll continue as the male model for the spring/summer campaign 2011☺ The Tata organiser have managed to put together exceptionally strong fields in all the Grandmaster Groups (A, B and C) and we have to reason to expect an exciting, high quality tournament. Pressing the blue simulation button during the opening ceremony today resulted in start number 4; White in round 1 against fellow 2800-player L.Aronian, Armenia tomorrow at 1:30 pm local time and an extra white overall. My highest rated opponents Anand, Aronian, Kramnik and Grischuk all drew high start numbers and get an extra black this time around, while Nakamura drew white. Iíll have white against the first two and the latter, and black against Kramnik and Grischuk. It is great to be in Wijk, this will be my 8th consecutive January spent here. Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, Holland, January 14th 2011.

2011-01-15 10:43:28

Happy New Year!

After the difficult start it was a great feeling to win London Chess Classics and end 2010 on a high note. Looking back at 2010 (four classical tournament wins + shared first in Amber Rapid and Blindfold + victory in the Arctic Securities Chess Stars + winning the RAW World Chess Challenge), Iím very satisfied overall. Looking into the detailed results, it is interesting to note that in 2009 my best results came after a terrific start (in Nanjing and London). London 2010 was my first classical tournament victory having started with a first round loss. The extra white I was dealt in several single round robin events in 2009 was balanced by an extra game with the black pieces in both Corus and London in 2010. Winning tournaments with this starting point adds an extra flavour. Other highlights of 2010 have been the cooperation with G-star and my sponsors Arctic Securities, Simonsen Lawfirm and TromsÝ 2014. I would like to thank all of you for a great year! Christmas and New Year eve Iíve spent at home and up in Engerdal and I start to look forward to the coming events. My first tournament this year is once again in Wijk aan Zee in Holland from January 15th to 30th. Itīll be my 8th consecutive participation in what is now the Tata Steel Chess tournament 2011. In February I will visit New York for another Fashion week and in March the 20th edition (and my 5th) of Amber Rapid and Blindfold will take place from the 12th to the 24th. I want to take this opportunity to thank ARCTIC SECURITIES for the good cooperation in 2010 and also for the support of the tournament in Kristiansund in August. I wish everyone in with ARCTIC SECURITIES a Happy New Year! Magnus Carlsen, January 2nd 2011.

2011-01-03 00:46:04

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