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.
Further reading »
|Magnus Carlsen`s Blog|
|Dubai next after Norway Chess|
I arrived in Dubai late last night with my main coach Peter Heine Nielsen for the Rapid and Blitz World Championship 2014. Dubai brings back fond memories as I secured my third and decisive Grandmaster norm here 10 years ago. The venue is the same; The rook-shaped Dubai Chess & Culture Club.
Norway Chess in Stavanger finished Friday and Karjakin won as last year at 6/9. I came second half a point behind, with Grischuk in clear third at 5 points. Karjakinís 3 out of 3 finish was as impressive as his start last year, winning from equal middle and endgame positions.
A week ago I would have said that a missed win would never be as painful as an outright loss, but my penultimate game against Svidler came close. He botched up the opening and with the black pieces I had perfect coordination and could win material in many ways. Instead I went for an illusionary mate, having missed his Rg3 defense. Winning round 9 against compatriot Simen Agdestein did not help as leader Karjakin exploited mistakes by Caruana just before the time control.
The organizers headed by Kjell Madland and his board and large group of volunteers, and the sponsors deserves unconditional praise for staging a great event and for being helpful in every way. Thank you!
Iím reasonably happy with the +2 score. I was doing fine from the opening in most games, but my middle and endgame play was too uneven this time for me to be really satisfied. Fortunately the initial Blitz went fine and I look forward to the WC Rapid and Blitz starting Monday.
Magnus Carlsen, Dubai, June 15th 2014
|Shared lead in Norway Chess 2014|
The way I spent May, with two busy weeks with events in Norway, Nederlands and New York followed by two relatively quiet weeks at home, felt like a reasonable preparation for the Norway Chess 2014. And I did feel great both during the initial blitz tournament that I won with a somewhat flattering 7.5/9 out at the magnificent Flo & Fjaere island and in the first few main rounds. After the first rest day I have not been in my best shape although I donít really know why. My play has been somewhat questionable while the results are just fine fortunately.
In round 4 against Topalov I snatched a pawn on a2 but underestimated his counterplay. He had more than adequate compensation for the pawn. It was not obvious how he should continue, and running low on time he chose to force a repetition of moves. The alternative for me of giving up an exchange to play on would leave me fighting for a draw and nothing more.
Against Aronian I was outplayed in the middle game despite the white pieces, but the position was complicated, and in time trouble he went astray. He thought the ending after exchanging queens would be better for him, but it was white that could play for two results. I found a reasonable plan and managed to gradually improve my position. With a few inaccuracies from my opponent I managed to bring home the full point on a long and difficult day.
Todayís draw with black against Karjakin finished quickly and was uneventful. That was somewhat of a pity as I really like the playing facilities out at the Aarbakke factory!
Thanks to losses by the leaders in both round 5 (Caruana lost to Kramnik) and today when Kramnik lost to Topalov, Iím suddenly in shared lead with Caruana and Kramnik at +1, and all players are within 1 point before the last three rounds.
After the short game today there was time for some football with friends in the nice summer evening. I look forward to playing white against world no 3 Alexander Grischuk Tuesday at 3:30 pm back at Scandic at Forus.
Magnus Carlsen, Stavanger, June 9th 2014
|No Logo Norway Chess 2014|
Despite the strong tournament last year, the organizers headed by Kjell Madland have managed to put together an even stronger field this year in a top notch event. Iím up against most of the world elite - Aronian, Grischuk, Caruana, Kramnik, Topalov, Karjakin, Svidler, Giri and Simen Agdestein who qualified by beating Jon L. Hammer in a rapid match late April.
On the rest day today we all visited a school team competition held at Science factory (Vitenfabrikken) in Sandnes. 29 local schools participated - not bad at all!
The favorite attraction among the top players was a two-player mindgame measuring brain waves with a headband. Aiming at total relaxation, the lower activity will drive the ball into the court of your opponent. Most of the grandmasters did well. Iím not sure if weíre just a lazy bunch or good at controlling brain activity:)
In the first edition of Norway Chess in 2013 I started with four draws. This time Iíve started with three draws. The first two games were pretty decent. My opponents Anish Giri and Vladimir Kramnik defended well. Yesterday I got a promising position from the opening against early leader Caruana, but blew it all in a few moves having missed his a5 resource. Fortunately I managed to draw a difficult endgame a piece down.
Caruana is playing well and is sole leader with 2.5 points ahead of Grischuk and Kramnik at 2 points. The main revelation so far has been my former trainer Simen Agdestein who has three draws but managed to put a lot of pressure on both Aronian and Karjakin with the black pieces!
The media coverage is quite amazing, and after each game we visit two live studios and make several TV interviews onsite at the Forus venue before heading back to the hotel in Stavanger.
Tomorrow at 3:30 pm local time Iím playing black against former World Champion Veselin Topalov in round 4.
Magnus Carlsen, Stavanger, June 6th 2014
|Shamkir Chess 2014 Ė great event!|
With a busy schedule this week and next, Iíve enjoyed a few days off after returning from Shamkir last Thursday.
After the upís and downís in both quality of play and results, the last round victory made all the difference. Outright victory with 6.5/10 after sharing the lead (with Fabiano Caruana) before the last round, was just what I needed: Finishing on an upbeat note with a decent result overall.
Looking back at ĎShamkir Chess 2014 Ė in memory of Vugar Gashimoví, there are several reasons to be uplifted. The tournament was flawlessly organized at the highest level in an amicable atmosphere. Many of the strongest players in the world under age 30 participated and in addition there was a very strong B-group. The event took place in the homeland of Vugar, and the uncompromising fighting chess in his style seen throughout the event was a worthy way of honoring him.
During the tournament I was frustrated with making too many blunders. In retrospect my overall level of play was probably okay. Five wins, and some very good games compensate significantly for the weaker days, and in my two losses my opponents Caruana and Radjabov after all played more or less flawlessly. Apart from Mamedyarov, who seemed to lack the level of energy needed for his uncompromising style as displayed more successfully in the Candidates, most players are probably reasonably happy with their result. Importantly for Azerbaijan, Radjabov seems to have done a lot of good work recently and has definitely reversed the downward trend and rating loss experienced in 2013.
In addition to thanking the organizer Synergy Group, all the individuals involved one way or another, and the family of Vugar, Iím grateful to my coach Peter Heine as well as my father Henrik and the Ďsecurityí man Bjorn for their support. I hope the Shamkir Chess tournament will become a tradition.
Tuesday 6th there is a media day, followed by an event in Trondheim for Nordic Semiconductor on Wednesday and an internet match against ĎNorwayí on Thursday 8th, organized by VG. Later on the 8th Iím playing a simul at a Simonsen Vogt Wiig event.
My next tournament is Norway Chess in Stavanger early June!
Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, May 5th, 2014
|Shamkir Chess 2014 R7|
Except for the draw against Karjakin in round 3, all my games have been decisive! This is not what I expected prior to the tournament. Itís partly a result of ambitious play combined with higher than usual variation in the quality of my play, but it is maybe mostly coincidental.
The round 4 and 5 losses against Caruana and Radjabov were of course frustrating. Against Caruana I was clearly worse after inaccurate play in the Berlin. I went on to blunder the c7-pawn without any compensation. Against Radjabov I seriously misjudged the middle game position and level of compensation for the sacrificed exchange. It is fair to say that both my opponents played very accurately in these games and converted their advantages flawlessly.
The rest day with the exciting football cup was just what I needed. Our team of international players, with help from two Azeri players in the final, won on penalty shoot out. Iím feeling more energetic, and although my play isnít perfect, the results have been terrific after the rest day. Two wins in row with black are of course more than I could expect.
Yesterday Mamedyarov sacrificed a pawn in the opening for compensation. It was an interesting position and not clear who was better. At one point he could have sacrificed his bishop on h6 and forced a draw. His decisive mistake was probably 22.f5. He mistakenly thought he had Rd1 at the end of the variation, and his position just collapsed very quickly.
As in Zurich in February Nakamura tried the f3 Nimzo-Indian variation against me. I thought I was fine in the opening. Soon I discovered that 10Ö Bd7 was a mistake, as I had to play it back to c8 later to free d7 for my knight. My position seemed precarious, although it is not obvious that he had any forced winning or even significantly better continuations. Having spent 25 minutes on 26.Nxd3 Nakamura was short on time well before the first time control. The pawn-up ending was maybe slightly better for him, but the way he played in time trouble I got everything I wanted, and with the passed pawn on b2 it was a matter of technique in the end. The knight walk from e5 to d1 resulted in a winning exchange-up endgame. 0-1, and once again Iím the sole leader at +2 with Radjabov half a point behind.
Iím happy to see that Shamkir Chess 2014 is shown live on Norwegian television, and TV2 even has a crew onsite for the 2nd half of the tournament.
Having had black in four of the last five games, I have white against Karjakin Monday followed by black against Radjabov and finally white against Caruana in the last round.
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 27th, 2014
|Shamkir 2014 Round 2 and 3|
I did not manage to play as accurately as in round 1, but still Iím fairly happy with my level of play both yesterday and today.
Against Nakamura yesterday I got a small but comfortable positional edge out of the opening, and close to the first time control Nakamura made a few inaccuracies. My two extra pawns should have been more than adequate, but he kept putting up strong resistance, and I really had to focus in the 5th and 6th hour of play to win in the end. A great start!
The hotel spa in the cellar turned out to be very good. It helped me relax after the round.
Today Nakamura won quite convincingly as white against Mamedyarov. By this time, I had already enjoyed a comfortable edge as black against Karjakin for some time. He went for the f3 Nimzowitch variation, and I managed to sidestep his preparation with an early Nh5. He burned lots of time on the clock. Soon I was slightly better, and the advantage seemed to grow. I may have played inaccurately before the first time control, but anyhow the prospects looked good. He defended very well in the time trouble, and afterwards I probably went wrong with Kf7. Nf4 first would have been a better try. Having put pressure on him for more than 4 hours Iím a little disappointed with the draw.
Overall 2.5 out of 3 is a great start, and Iíve got a full point lead over Karjakin, Radjabov, Nakamura and Caruana, whom Iíll face Wednesday.
We saw lots of fighting chess and decisive games in the B-group both days, and I hope the spectators at the venue and elsewhere are happy so far!
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 22nd, 2014
|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 calculate 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
|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
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
|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