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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Shamkir 2014 starting well!

During the press conference after round 1 I was asked about a perceived tendency to start slow and spend some rounds to get going. There might have been a few tournaments in a row where this happened a few years back, but that was more the equivalent of tossing several coin-flips in a row showing ďheads upĒ rather than a relevant trend. Right now Iím quite satisfied having won the first round in several tournaments in a row. It helps of course to start with two white games. Shakryar Mamedyarov is currently ranked no 10 in the world and while we have played in the same tournaments many times from the 2003 World Youth onwards, we havenít played against each other that often. He is a highly gifted tactical player, and I tried to play positional chess without allowing messy tactics. Admittedly I was surprised in the opening. He does play 5Ö Nbd7 and the Cambridge Spring variation, but I was not really prepared for playing white in the line in which I was black against Gelfand in the Candidates last year. I deviated with 11.Be2 and in retrospect it turned out to be a good choice. The critical point in the game was just before his 21Ö Ng6. He had missed some kind of tactics, and after 22.Qd3 I was clearly better with a pleasant positional advantage. With his bishop stuck on a5, a weak pawn on e6 and my control of g6 and the d-line it was a matter of technique. He tried to find a sacrifice leading to a perpetual just before the first time control, but I had enough time left to calculated the critical variation. 1-0. I thought Caruana would join me in the lead as he had turned a worse position against Nakamura into a winning advantage. But low on time he missed the win, and the game ended in a draw. Karjakin had the initiative as white against Radjabov in a topical line of the French Tarrach variation. Radjabov defended well and drew in the end. The tournament 40-move rule - no draw except by repetition of moves before move 40 Ė works. Not surprisingly we saw hard fought games on all boards in both A and B groups today. Tomorrow Iím white against Hikaru Nakamura! Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 20th, 2014

2014-04-20 21:52:51



Shamkir Chess 2014 Ė in memory of Vugar Gashimov

The biggest chess news coming into April was clearly the convincing Candidates tournament victory by V. Anand, qualifying for the next World Championship match scheduled to take place in November. Carlsen-Anand II was not what I expected before the event, but Anand emerged as a clear winner going undefeated through the long event. More detailed comments on the Candidates are available at my Youtube channel. Iíve been abroad the whole month. The training camp in Muscat prior to the World Championship match last autumn was an entirely positive experience, and I decided to go back prior to the Shamkir Chess 2014 tournament. Muscat isnít that far from Baku, but our luggage got left in Dubai on the way. The organizer has been very helpful also in this respect and this morning it was brought to the hotel in Shamkir. With the sports equipment in place, my trainer Peter Heine faced another tough challenge, two hours of basketball in the sun in anticipation of the NBA playoffs starting tonight! Yesterday in Baku all the players of the A and B groups visited the grave of Vugar Gashimov. It was an emotional moment. Iíve played in some memorial tournaments in the past, but this is of course something very special as Vugar was someone I knew personally and appreciated. He was not only pleasant and kind, but a highly creative and innovative elite chess player. Shamkir is situated along the Silk way in the western part of Azerbaijan. The well registered and touching opening ceremony today took place at the playing venue; the magnificent Heydar Aliyev Center in Shamkir. Once again I managed to draw no 1 in the drawing of lots! The players I face in the A-group are F.Caruana from Italy, H. Nakamura, USA, S.Karjakin, Russia, and the two strong Azeri players S. Mamedyarov and T. Radjabov. Sunday at 3 pm local time Iím playing white against Shakryar Mamedyarov, and I'm really looking forward to get started! Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 19th, 2014

2014-04-19 21:46:01



Recent events

With the app Play Magnus I hope to contribute to bring chess to the world. We had more than 100.000 downloads of the free Iphone app the first month and plan to expand to other platforms in the not too distant future. Iíve commented on the ongoing Candidates tournament (the winner will challenge me in the next World Championship match) on my Youtube channel yesterday. With two rounds to go and a full point lead (plus favourable tie-break) it looks very good for Anand. The Candidates last year was my toughest chess challenge so far, and Iím quite happy to be a spectator this year. Only first place counts, and this explains the higher tension and slightly desperate approach seen by most players compared to other events. Only Anand, and Aronian in the first half, have been able to find the right balance. Karjakin still has an outside chance if he can beat Anand in round 13 today. Early March I played two rapid events and did two simuls in Caxias do Sul in the south of Brazil and was happy to see the interest and enthusiasm surrounding chess down there. Fortunately I managed to win both events. The closed cup against local GMís Leitao and Milos, and IM Vila from Uruguay took place in a glass cube. I havenít played internationally in an Open in quite some time. With several hundred participants it was quite different from the closed events I normally play. It reminds me of playing in the Olympiads. If you struggle it is easy to get annoyed by the noise and different playing conditions. When you are motivated and the results are good, you feel great about playing together with so many others. Fortunately the Open went very well for me. I was in some trouble in a couple of games, but beating my coach Peter Heine in a rook endgame in the last round secured 1st with 8.5/9. Overall it was a great experience! The next stop was the French Riviera and two great events at a real estate conference with two of my main sponsors Arctic Securities and Simonsen Vogt Wiig. (And a round of golf with manager Espen and people from Simonsen☺) Next week Iím off to a training camp in Oman before playing Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir in Azerbaijan late April. Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, March 29th, 2014

2014-03-29 10:45:52



Back from fascinating days in Sochi

I donít remember much from the Lillehammer Winter Olympics 1994 despite watching the 30 kilometer skiing competition with Alsgaard and Dśhlie ringside. Lillehammer was the ďstate-of-the-artĒ Olympics according to most Norwegians; Compact games, 16 days of beautiful winter weather (and plenty of Norwegian medals). Following the Nordic Skiing World Championship in Trondheim in 1997 is a fond memory, and I was so happy to be back ringside in Sochi this week as a member of ĎPrestasjonsklyngení associated with ĎOlympiatoppení. Watching the athletes compete up close is something very special, just as with football matches. The speed with which the skiers climb uphill is very impressive. Takes a lot of technique and amazing shape. Taking the cable car twice in vain (postponed due to fog), I really appreciated the exciting menís biathlon mass start won by Svendsen when it finally took place. Fortunately the Norwegians have already won too many medals to name them all☺ Congratulations! In Zurich earlier this month the last day rapid games should be forgotten as quickly as possible, but it was enough to bring me overall victory. Iíd like to thank the organizers and main sponsor Oleg Skvortsov for a great event! Next week (25th) Iím going to announce some good news for chess fans☺ Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, February 22nd, 2014

2014-02-22 22:21:12



Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 Classical part

Iíve been in Zurich a few times before, mainly in connection with the Biel tournament and hiking trips to the Alps. During chess tournaments Iím generally too focused on chess to have the time or the energy to be a tourist, but obviously Zurich has an excellent location with the lake in the southeast and the magnificent view to the Alps. Today my game finished early, and Iíve played some basketball with my coach Peter Heine Nielsen and had dinner with one of my main sponsors. Iím very happy to finish the classical part of the tournament with a lead. This was one of my main objectives going into this first tournament as World Champion. The game against Nakamura Saturday was a real cliffhanger. I made some mistakes early in the game and was strategically busted as his attack seemed unstoppable. Fortunately I hung in and tried to find counterplay. Close to the time control I had pinned my hope on the natural d6 advance that he actually chose. Winning a piece must have looked tempting, but it was all I needed to activate my rook and queen, and after another mistake by Nakamura I could even turn defeat into victory in the end! The game against Caruana on Sunday was really enjoyable for me. Apart from the inaccurate Qe7 the game went very smoothly and Iím satisfied having played two (very) good games (against Gelfand and Caruana) out of five. Tomorrow we are playing five rounds of rapid chess with opposite colours of the classical part, and Iíll start with black against Gelfand followed by black against Aronian. Iíve got 8 points before the rapids, Aronian has 6 after losing to Caruana (5) today, but Iíll try to reset and mentally start from scratch as if the rapid was a separate event. The time control is 15 minutes per player per game plus an increment of 10 seconds per move, and itíll be my first rapid games for a long time. Magnus Carlsen, Zurich, February 3rd, 2014

2014-02-04 02:00:51



Zurich Round 2 against Aronian

Over the last few years Oleg Skvortsov, the Savoy Chess Corner and the Zurich Chess Club have put Zurich firmly back on the international chess map. The 1953 Candidates Tournament in Zurich still has a prominent place in chess history, and as many others Iíve read the Bronstein book from the tournament. This year the Savoy Festsaal is packed with spectators and people queuing up outside, and Iíve seldom seen more press people except during the main championships. Norwegian TV2 is covering the whole event live both on TV and internet back home! As white against Aronian today, in what was obviously an important game for the outcome of the tournament, I did not get much from the opening. It was difficult to develop my plans without creating significant weaknesses, but I was quite satisfied with Bg4 which seemed to surprise Aronian. Maybe I could have put more pressure on him, frankly I donít know, and I couldnít find any way to make real progress during the game. Draw against such a strong player is an okay result, and the tension in the tournament is definitely maintained. Nakamura joined the leaders by outmanoeuvring Anand after an interesting piece sacrifice. Iíll play black against Nakamura Saturday at 3 pm as usual. Magnus Carlsen, Zurich, January 31st, 2014

2014-02-01 01:48:12



Zurich Chess Challenge 2014

Irrespective of how much I enjoyed a long break from tournament chess after the World Championship match in Chennai, Iím simply delighted to be playing the unprecedented category 23 (average rating 2801) Zurich Chess Challenge. The first round classical game against Gelfand today was exactly the kind of chess game I like to play. The queenless middle game fight offered positional and tactical nuances on every move. It is hard to say where Gelfand went wrong, but after 15.g4! his position was quite tricky. I allowed my pawn structure to be totally busted, but as long as I could keep on putting pressure on him on every move, my advantage quickly became quite significant. By the time he got into time trouble the position was probably already winning for me. He resigned just before the first time control. Aronian outplayed Anand in the early middle game. After a possibly dubious piece sacrifice, Anand defended well for a long time, but Aronian managed to convert the game to victory and we share the lead after round one. As yesterday I needed close to an hour to get warmed up. Today it meant spending 30 minutes procrastinating on how to meet 9Ö. Bf5. In the blitz yesterday my situation was pretty desperate being a pawn down and low on time against Aronian in game 3, after having lost to Caruana and saved a draw against Gelfand. I woke up in time to save the draw against Aronian and beat Anand and Nakamura to clinch 1st on tie-break ahead of Aronian. The tournament takes place in the ďFestsaalĒ of Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville. We have quite a schedule these seven days. From today until Monday we play the round robin classical part of the tournament, and any drawn game prior to move 40 will be followed by a rapid game with opposite colors. Tuesday we play 5 rounds rapid chess each carrying half the weight of each classical game. Friday I have white against co-leader Aronian who came straight from a convincing victory in Tata Steel Chess. Magnus Carlsen, January 30th, 2014, Zurich

2014-01-31 00:35:18



Year end thoughts 2013

Looking back at tournaments won (Tata Steel Chess, the Candidates and Sinquefield Cup), and the successful World Championship match, 2013 is without much doubt my best chess year ever. But, Iím equally thrilled by the prospects ahead. The continued motivation to improve and understand more chess makes me fortunate to be a professional chess player. Taking a two months break after the match as planned unfortunately meant missing the great events London Chess Classics and Tata Steel Chess, but I look forward to play again in Zurich at the end of January and several more tournaments later in 2014. Live coverage of the World Championship match in Norway brought the chess interest to a completely new level, and I also appreciate the great amount of national support. The timing is excellent with the Norway Chess tournament again taking place in June and TromsÝ hosting the Chess Olympiad in August! For the first time since late 2008 Iíve taken part in the World Championship cycle this year. Frankly I enjoyed the match itself much more than I had expected and already look forward to the next match. The overwhelming media and public interest in the match strengthens the case for continuing the tradition. The system of champion privileges (waiting for the next challenger) is not perfect, but having a predictable qualification system has merits. The Candidate tournament in London was a great sporting event in many ways, and the next one in Khanty Mansiysk should be exciting as well. For the time being, it could be argued that having the top rated player as the world champion adds credibility to the cycle. Before the match we praised named and unnamed seconds, former trainers, current and former sponsors and others that have helped me get to where I am, and I was delighted to see many of you in Chennai during the match. To all of you, and to my family, my team in Chennai and manager Espen; Thank you very much! Iím just back from a peaceful family vacation in Engerdal. After returning to Norway late November, Iíve mostly relaxed at home and spent time with friends and family. I also celebrated my birthday November 30th taking a memorable ceremonial kick-off in Real Madrid Ė Valladolid at Santiago Bernabeu, spent one day in London for G-Star, visited my old highschool NTG together with the Prime Minister and the Minister of culture, and had some brief meetings with main sponsor representatives and award ceremonies with the media. Early January Iíll travel to London and the US for sponsor events and as ambassador for Americaís Foundation for Chess together with Espen and representatives of most of my main sponsors Arctic Securities, Nordic Semiconductor, Parallels, Simonsen Vogt Wiig and VG. I wish all of you at Arctic Securities and the readers of this blog a Happy New Year! Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, December 31st, 2013

2013-12-31 17:17:22



Chennai World Championship Match 2013 Victory!

Magnus and (most of the) his team returned to Norway yesterday to a great reception. It is time to finally provide an account of the last games. The change of direction of the match after the last rest day was appreciated by the spectators. In game 9 Anand came out blazing with 1.d4 and the 5.f3 Nimzo-Indian. The early g4 lead to a race, Magnus advancing on the queen side and Anandís pawn storm on the king side. It looked dangerous for black and Magnus needed to find all the right moves to survive. After white played Rf4 threatening Rh4 and mate on h7, the position was still unclear despite the extra black queen. With less than 10 minutes left on 12 moves Anand suddenly miscalculated and after Nf1, (instead of Bf1) Qe1 clinched a full point for Magnus. Not many had significant expectations for the last game as a draw with white would finish the match for Magnus, and Anand seemed beyond realistic hope trailing 3-6. Some inaccuracies by both players, including what was probably a missed win or two by Magnus does not diminish the fact that they fought until just kings were left on the table! Consequently Magnus won the World Championship title with 6.5 points against 3.5 in the best-of-twelve match! On the prize giving ceremony, Magnus was awarded an impressive trophy, a gold medal, a symbolic check and a garland, and Anand received a huge silver plate and his check. In the VIP lounge right after the ceremony, eager photographers taking pictures of Magnus with the gold medal fought for the best places creating a commotion we have never experienced before except maybe earlier in this match! With some help from the organisers and local police Magnus and the team could move on to interviews and press sessions in the media centre upstairs. Magnus felt the turning point of the match was game 3 and 4. Despite Magnusís difficult position in game 3, the way that Anand seemed slightly uncomfortable and did not go for the critical lines contributed to a renewed confidence on Magnusís part. From game 4 onwards he settled into his usual stride and just enjoyed the match. It might be a disadvantage to play on your opponentís home ground in chess as in other sports, but this effect was ameliorated by the way the organisers, headed by Mr. Sundar, and the hotel with all its great staff and our butler Syed, really did everything they could to make Magnus and the team comfortable. The playing conditions, the hotel rooms, the food, and service, the opportunity to play football and basketball on some of the rest days and the hospitality and kindness shown by Indians we met, all contributed to our wellbeing. Thank you, we are eternally grateful! Once Anand lost in round 5, playing at home with all the expectations and broad support he received throughout the match might even have been a significant disadvantage in the end. After the match Magnus observed that playing on one of the players home ground adds another dimension to the match. At the airport we were greeted with water canons and met by the Baerum mayor, journalists and enthusiasts. Magnus are really grateful to his seconds, headed by Jon Ludvig Hammer, his team, and everyone who has supported him one way or another to help him reach and win the World Championship match against V.Anand. Thank you!! For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., Haslum, November 28th, 2013

2013-11-28 15:37:35



Chennai World Championship match 2013 Game 7 & 8

There is different ways of looking at the proís and conís of having white in game one of the match as Magnus did here, but clearly one key aspect is having the black pieces two games in a row in the middle of the match. One implication pointed out by observers early in the match was that game 4 to 7 was a really challenging stretch for Magnus (with three black and one white game). In game 7 Anand seemed to be in damage control mode, despite the white pieces. He continued with 1.e4 and the Ruy Lopez. Magnus again responded with the Berlin defence. When both castled long the position looked balanced, although Anand was maybe slightly better due to the pawn structure. In the end Magnus was tied up guarding his c6 and f-pawns. Apparently there was not any way to make progress for white, and they repeated moves. Consequently the game 4 to 7 phase of the match ended 3-1 to Magnus! In game 8 Magnus played 1.e4 himself for the first time in the match, and Anand seemed quite surprised. Anand went for the Berlin and they played the very old 5.Re1 variation. In my understanding this was not considered very ambitious in modern time until Magnus got a decisive advantage against Anand in this variation in Nanjing 2010. (Anand defended well and saved a draw in that game.) Magnus had a slightly better position. In the press conference he said that he was not in the mood to think hard and pursue the tiny edge, and simplified to a dead draw ending. As the day before, the game was not particularly exciting for the spectators. More importantly the match situation is interesting, and trailing by 2 points with 4 games to go we must expect Anand to come out fighting in game 9 tomorrow. The interest in the match is still beyond every expectation back in Norway, and the timing of starting the Norway Chess tradition in the Stavanger region this year and bringing the Chess Olympiad to Tromsoe in 2014 could not have been better! For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., Chennai, November 20th, 2013

2013-11-20 13:28:37



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