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 – 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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|Magnus Carlsen`s Blog|
|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 Anand’s 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 Magnus’s 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 Magnus’s 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 opponent’s 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
|Chennai World Championship match 2013 Game 7 & 8|
There is different ways of looking at the pro’s and con’s 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
|Chennai WC 2013 Game 5 & 6|
A chess world championship match attracts interest far beyond the circle of tournament players and keen amateurs. Chess is played all around the globe, and most countries worldwide are members of FIDE, the international chess federation. The general stature of world championship matches and the clash between the experienced reigning and many time World Champion Anand from India, and the young western challenger Carlsen dominating tournaments and being the no 1 rated player in the world, may be key features explaining the broad interest in the match.
Within the chess world itself, a widely discussed feature of the match is the difference between matches and tournaments and the focus on and importance of opening preparation in matches.
After each rest day we have seen a remarkable change of direction in the course of the match. The first two games were cut short by excellent opening preparation of the player with the black pieces although Anand could maybe have played on in both games. In the next two games, the contestants exchanged blows in 50+ moves hard fights.
Black again was more than fine, and only tenacious defence saved white.
In game 5 and 6 opening preparation played less of a role and we saw two long technical endgame fights. By continuing to pose challenges to the reigning champion, Magnus managed to win both games!
Friday Magnus got a small but clear edge after the exchange of queens due to the black pawn island weaknesses. Anand defended very well and would probably have saved the game if he had chosen Ra1 instead of Rc1+ after the time control.
As white yesterday Anand played a novelty 10.Bg5, and with ideas centred on the bind on f6 and the potential knight outpost on f5 he continued to try to put pressure on Magnus in the middle game. With the black Breyer knight manoeuvre Nc6-b8-d7, the open a-file and the queen on e6, the white initiative fizzled out. Sensing that Anand was vulnerable after his game five loss, Magnus chose to vigorously pursue his miniscule queen and rook endgame advantage. After Anand played h5, the ensuing rook endgame looked drawish despite Magnus’s two extra pawns, but by giving up three pawns (!) Magnus managed to win with his f-pawn in the end.
In what he described as “a healthy lead” in the press conference after game 6, Magnus is up 4 points against 2 halfway through the match.
The enthusiastic Norwegian contingent in Chennai is growing, and several Norwegian chess players have arrived already. We are looking forward to more Norwegians coming to Chennai next week. This includes representatives of Arctic Securities and the other main sponsors of Magnus.
Today is a rest day. In the second half of the match, the order of the colours are reversed, and Anand once again has the white pieces in game 7 Monday.
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., Chennai, November 17th, 2013
|Chennai WC 2013 Game 3 & 4|
Game 3 and 4 in the World Championship match in Chennai had everything except a decisive result.
Magnus played the white pieces Tuesday. He did not get much of an advantage out of the opening, if any. A few inaccurate moves was expertly exploited by Anand, and black was better in the middle game. Rather than wait for the black pawn majority advance Magnus in typical style sacrificed a pawn with e3! to create counterplay. Not the preferred choice of the computers, but clearly a good practical decision.
As expected Anand, also short on time, avoided the sharpest lines. After the time control Magnus was even slightly better in the queen and opposite bishop endgame due to black having the weaker king and isolated e6 pawn. Anand easily managed to trade off the g and h pawns and a draw was agreed on move 51.
In game 4 Anand repeated 1.e4 and Magnus responded e5 this time. In the ensuing Berlin wall of the Ruy Lopez, Magnus went for the Be7-line. This time Anand made a few inaccuracies and when Magnus was allowed to take on a2, black was already better anyhow. Anand had some counterplay and the spectators could enjoy a long intense fight. Magnus expertly tried to untangle to benefit from the extra pawn, but Anand kept finding the necessary resources, and just before the time control Magnus let most of the advantage slip. Assisted by computers commentators and spectators might have thought the problems was over, but Magnus continued to but pressure on Anand, and the latter just made the second time control avoiding all the pitfalls of the position. The two against one rook ending was quickly drawn after six hours play.
Both players seemed to have enjoyed the fight and amicably exchanged variations both in the playing hall and in the press conference.
I’d like to put the challenge Magnus is facing into historical perspective. The last time a challenger won the Candidates qualification step and continued to win (or lead) his first World Championship match in 12 games, was in Fischer-Spassky in 1972. Fischer won the 24 games match and had a clear lead after 12 games. Even Kasparov needed 72 World Championship games to secure his first title.
On the first rest day the Carlsen team enjoyed a two hours session of indoor football and basketball courtesy of the organizer and a local school. Today the team has retreated to Fisherman’s Cove and we all look forward to game 5 on Friday!
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., Chennai, November 14th, 2013
|Chennai World Championship match 2013|
Magnus Carlsen arrived in Chennai last Monday for the World Championship match against reigning champion Viswanathan Anand. Going on the inspection trip in August was definitely a good idea, the arrival experience and general impressions were as expected for Magnus and his team. The sisters and mother of Magnus on the other hand, felt quite stunned by all the new and intense impressions.
After two days at a resort south of Chennai, Magnus arrived at the playing venue Hyatt Regency on the 6thof November. The 7th was quite busy with technical meeting, players meeting, press conference, a well-orchestrated and impressive opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, and finally the welcome banquet at the hotel.
It is fair to say that so far Indians have been hospitable and the organizers and hotel staff have made every effort to make Team Carlsen feel comfortable in Chennai.
Our impression is that the press interest and coverage have been huge in general. This is certainly the case in India and in Norway.
Combined with the long preparatory stage leading up to the match, not surprisingly both players were eager to get started on the 9th.
Going back in history, the first game in their first World Championship match has been difficult for the challenger on several occasions. To mention two players; Petrosian in 1963 and Fischer in 1972, both lost the first game and went on to win the title.
Magnus was caught out in his preparation in game one, and as he pointed out at the press conference, he reluctantly had to pull the emergency brake. Anand was maybe slightly better already, but he decided to force a repetition of moves. Magnus could not deviate without being worse or lost, and the game was drawn after 16 moves and 90 minutes only.
Amazingly game two finished even faster, although 25 moves were played.
Anand went 1.e4, it used to be his regular opening before he introduced 1.d4 in his match against Kramnik in 2008.
Magnus managed to surprise Anand with the Caro-Kann (1…. c6).
Anand deviated from his game against Ding Liren earlier this year, and played 15.Ne4. Magnus exchanged knights followed by Queen to d5. This was another critical junction, at which Anand decided to trade queens instead of the sharper continuation Queen to g4, and forced a draw a few moves later with Rh3-g3-f3-g3-f3.
Not surprisingly Anand looked less confident today, while Magnus was quite satisfied with the game.
Monday is a rest day. On the 12th at 3pm local time, Magnus has white in game 3.
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., Chennai, November 10th, 2013
|The road to Chennai 2013 – Success at the top|
Towards the end of 2008 we discussed a cooperation with Garry Kasparov, and Espen Agdestein, who had already helped us secure the sponsor FAST the year before, agreed to work as a sponsor agent to help finance the cooperation. Espen has been the manager of Magnus from 2011.
Financial firm Arctic Securities and Simonsen Vogt Wiig lawyers have now been main sponsors of Magnus for four years already.
They share with Magnus the emphasis on focused dedication, attention to details and uncompromised quality.
Espen and Magnus have continued to make sure that new sponsors represent high standards, and later Norway’s main newspaper VG, software company Parallels and recently high tech company Nordic Semiconductor have joined as main sponsors.
For Magnus interactions with his main sponsors have provided valuable experience and perspectives balancing life as a professional chess player.
Magnus appreciated the 13 months cooperation with Kasparov, “the one who invented a lot of the modern concepts of chess”. He came close to winning both in Linares and Sofia 2009, and suddenly everything worked out perfectly in Nanjing 2009 resulting in clear first with 8/10 and an above 3000 rating performance. Later that autumn he won the Blitz World Championship with nearly 75% score, and the London Chess Classics.
In general, Magnus has preferred to prepare on his own during tournaments. He has worked with other strong GM’s on many occasions, and Ian Nepomniachtchi was also his second during the successful London Chess Classics 2012.
After the Kasparov cooperation in practice ended early 2010, Magnus scored 7.5/10 in Bazna in June despite less focus on preparation. Maybe the games lost during the 2010 Olympiad and subsequent Bilbao Masters served as a wake-up call. For the last three years his tournament rating performances have all been well above 2800 bringing his rating to an all-time-high of 2872 in February 2013, and securing yearly Chess Oscars from 2009 onwards.
Among his tournament victories are Tata Steel Chess (former Corus) and London Chess Classics three times, and Bilbao, Nanjing, Bazna and Biel two times.
Over the years he has played a few matches.
In rapid chess I remember vividly the 5-3 victory against Peter Leko in 2008. Magnus was under pressure in several games, and in one of them he had to find about 20 only-moves with 10 seconds increments to draw.
In classical chess he participated three times in the World Cup in his youth with shared 3rd in 2007 as his last and best result. In the Candidates earlier that year in Elista in Kalmykia, at 16, he lost a tense and even match against Levon Aronian after equalising three times in the classical stage (3-3) and rapid phase (2-2), before succumbing in the final blitz games.
Due to changes to the rules in mid-cycle, Magnus withdrew from the Grand Prix in November 2008, and he did not participate in World Championship qualifications until 2013.
In March this year he qualified for the match against V. Anand starting November 9th in Chennai, by winning the Candidate Tournament in London on tie-break after a tense finish. Peter Heine Nielsen was helping him in London, in addition to a team of other strong grandmasters contributing from home.
Kenneth Gvein and Metronet have helped professionalizing Magnus' digital appearance. Online activities will only become more important in the future.
Thanks go also to Basefarm for providing important hosting support.
Somewhat unusual for a chess player, Magnus became a campaign model for G-Star Raw clothes in 2010/2011. It was flattering that they wanted to renew the cooperation for 2014, as announced last week.
Magnus’s last tournament before the World Championship match was the Sinquefield Cup in St.Louis in September and he won quite convincingly with 4.5/6.
Last but not least, we would like to thank all the unnamed, but not forgotten, tournament organisers, organisations, chess colleagues, seconds, spectators, fans and friends that have been supportive and contributed with practical help, encouragement, enthusiasm or otherwise on the long road to Chennai 2013. Thank you!
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., November 3rd, 2013
|The road to Chennai 2013 – Rising to the top|
In his first year as a Grandmaster in 2004/5, the progress seemed to slow down. While optimistically trying hard to beat his GM opponents, Magnus did not yet have the necessary playing strength and lost many games and rating points.
Maybe his opponents played more conservatively, and when taking risks to try to win it often back-fired. Magnus himself seemed as eager and motivated as before, but anyhow it must have felt good to beat players like former World Championship contender Nigel Short and Alexei (fire-on-board) Shirov amidst his losses.
In the game against the latter at the Drammen tournament – sponsored by Smartfish, a long time personal sponsor of Magnus - around New Year 2005, Magnus left a rook hanging seemingly without much compensation. He went on to win a beautiful game. That both players thought the sacrifice simply represented the move required in the position did not diminish the excitement felt by many spectators.
Garry Kasparov was in Oslo during the tournament in connection with the ‘Prince of Chess’-documentary, and Magnus and Garry talked for an hour or two after his game against Macieja. Garry snubbed Magnus for being unrealistically optimistic trying to win a position that required a precise defence just to draw. Magnus visited Garry in Moscow in March 2005 but their main cooperation was still nearly four years into the future.
The emergence of worldwide internet access provided young chess players the opportunity to play online. From year 2000 Magnus spent countless hours playing at ICC (receiving a lot of technical help from Tarjei Svensen) and later Playchess.
He received chess engines and databases from Friedel at Chessbase, but labelling Magnus as part of the computer generation of chess is clearly misleading.
Magnus prefers and has always preferred to analyse chess on the board (or in his head), and he does not like to play against computers.
Judging from the results, Magnus started playing at a new level in the European Championship in 2005. He won the last two rounds - the last against Peter Heine Nielsen whom he had cooperated with earlier - and he qualified for the World Cup in December. In the World Cup, during which he turned 15, he came 10th overall and qualified for the Candidates (as the youngest ever). His rating shot up from 2530 towards 2700 in 15 months, and he started getting invitations to elite events.
Trying to adjust to the new level of opposition in Tal Memorial 2006 and Corus A 2007, he started winning games at the top level and shared 2nd place in Linares 2007.
Early great tournament successes including winning Biel 2007, sharing first with Aronian in Corus A 2008 with the whole elite present, shared first in the Baku Grand Prix and clear 1st in Foros 2008.
He continued to surprise his opponents in the opening by playing a variety of openings and variations. I especially remember some interesting Sicilian Dragon games, inspired by analysis help from chess theoretician Dag Sodtholt.
Magnus was no 1 on live rating for a few days in September 2008, at 17.
Still, towards the end of 2008 Magnus felt something was missing. Compensating for lack of experience and deep opening knowledge through energetic fighting spirit on the board was highly exhausting, and in 2009 he started a cooperation with Garry Kasparov.
To be continued.
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., November 1st, 2013
|The road to Chennai 2013 – Early development|
What did it take for a Norwegian to reach a match for the World Championship title?
In addition to a talent for and deep interest in chess, I think it was important to get possibilities and encouragement on the way. Support from family, friends, trainers and sponsors are helpful in providing the necessary possibilities. Encouragement came through results and also support from various people.
During the Norwegian youth team championship in 2000, a strong junior player was asked for the result by a friend after one of the rounds, and he responded with self deprecating irony something like: “Well, I played a 9-yr old as white and was a piece up by move 5…”. His friend had drawn his conclusions by the time he added: “And I lost”.
Magnus’s piece sacrifice was not theoretically correct but highly enjoyable for the spectators and certainly encouraging for people around him. For Magnus personally, the last round draw against the strongest Norwegian U16 player Tallaksen was maybe even more gratifying.
By this time Magnus had already had a couple of valuable sessions each month for half a year with Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen (Simen Agdestein’s assistant) at the Top Athletes School Chess group.
In Norway children participation in sports competitions is restricted in general.
In chess the practices have varied, and when Magnus was 11 back in 2002 he was allowed to participate in the European and World Youth U12. This represented a first opportunity to fight with the best peers in the world (except for Karjakin who was already a GM and did not participate any longer). In the European U12 Championship the Russian child stars Nepomniachtchi and Andreikin dominated as usual, while in the World Youth U12 Magnus was already catching up and came 2nd on tiebreak after the winner Ian Nepomniachtchi.
By this time, Simen Agdestein himself had already been the trainer of Magnus for about a year, and a little later Computas became his first sponsor for 6 months.
In January 2003 another event was staged by Hans Olav Lahlum at the traditional chess site of Gausdal amidst inspiring mountains with downhill and cross country skiing tracks. Magnus needed a last round win against his somewhat older adversary and friend IM Bluvshtein from Canada, and surprised many by achieving the necessary victory after a good game and a hard fight.
The international break-through securing a GM-norm and winning the Corus C-group in 2004 is well known to many, and less emphasis is put on the huge number of tournaments Magnus played in the autumn of 2003 during a family sabbatical year, that prepared him for the progress seen in 2004.
By this time, Microsoft Norway was sponsoring Magnus and facilitating his participation in tournaments every month.
Prior to our sabbatical, Simen Agdestein and other Norwegians had been very optimistic about the prospects of Magnus as a chess player, and during the 1st half of 2004 a number of strong players and international chess journalists showered praise on the young Norwegian providing encouragement for both Magnus himself and people around him.
To be continued.
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., October 29th, 2013
|The road to Chennai 2013 – Match information|
Being busy with preparations for the World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand starting in a little over two weeks, Magnus has asked me to write about the match and how he got there. Let me start with some practical information about the match.
The match will be held in the Hyatt Regency Chennai hotel in Chennai in India.
The opening ceremony and drawing of lots takes place November 7th 2013.
They play best of 12 rounds. The match is decided if and when one player reaches 6.5 or 7 points. In case of 6-6 after 12 rounds the match goes to tie-break; four rapid games, and if still equal, there will be two blitz games at the time. If still undecided after five times two blitz games, an Armageddon (sudden death) game will be played with a time handicap for black and white has to win.
The time control for the classical 12 round part will be two hours for 40 moves, another hour for the next 20 moves, and another 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 seconds increment per move from move 61.
The 12 rounds are scheduled for 3 pm local time on November 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24 and 26th. There is a rest day after every second round, and an additional rest day between round 11 and 12.
The tie-break is scheduled for November 28th and the closing ceremony for November 29th. If the match finishes earlier, the closing is one or two days after the last game.
The homepage of the match: http://chennai2013.fide.com/
has more information and online purchase of tickets to the playing hall.
V.Anand is qualified for the match being the reigning World Champion, after successfully keeping his title in the match against Boris Gelfand in Moscow in 2012.
Magnus qualified as the challenger by winning the Candidates Tournament in London in March 2013.
The World Championship match follows a more than century long tradition although the format has changed several times. 24 game matches used to be the standard, as in the Spassky-Fischer match in Reykjavik in 1972. Some World Championship Tournaments have been held. First to six victories was used for a period but abolished after the never-ending Karpov-Kasparov match in 1984. The number of games was gradually reduced and from 2006 onwards 12 games have been played.
V.Anand has played several World Championship matches in the past, while for Magnus it is his first title match.
For Team Carlsen, Henrik C., October 24th, 2013
|Sinquefield Cup 2013 Victory|
The Sinquefield Cup was my last tournament prior to the World Championship match in November, and it exceeded expectations both with regard to the excellent organisation of the event and my own result.
Kamsky had a promising position against Nakamura in their sharp encounter in the last round yesterday, but the latter put up a tenacious defence and it ended in a draw. Kudos to both players for putting up a real fight.
Well before the first time control Aronian and I knew the stakes. I needed a draw to win the tournament, he needed a win for a three-way play-off.
Aronian had outplayed me early in the middle game from the black side of the Ruy Lopez in a line we played also in London Chess Classics 2012. His piece activity more than compensated for his pawn weaknesses. He won a pawn on a5, but suddenly his pieces were tied up defending the knight on a5 and the pawn on b4. Black looked much better after the pseudo sacrifice Rd4, but he had missed my Ne1 resource with the threat Rxe4 Nd3 Rb5 c4! winning a piece.
With his rook on d2 the position was balanced, and when he withdrew his rook white was already better despite the pawn down.
He offered a draw, but I decided to play on as the game continuation looked fairly promising and I really wanted to win the last game. After capturing on c4 his position just collapsed. 1-0, and with 4.5 points I won outright ahead of Nakamura at 3.5 points, Aronian 2.5 points and Kamsky 1.5 points, gained 8 rating points to get back to 2870 and gained confidence prior to the match in November.
I was my first tournament in the US but certainly not my last. I’d like to thank the Sinquefields for organizing this great event, and everyone involved for being helpful and showing great hospitality!
I spent the evening today playing football and basketball at the Webster University and enjoyed another dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.
We are leaving for Europe tomorrow.
Magnus Carlsen, St. Louis, September 16th, 2013