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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|Magnus Carlsen`s Blog|
|Successful Gashimov Memorial 2015|
You donít have to be superstitious to appreciate the statistics of tournament performances. In recent tournaments Iíve often lost round 3 and struggled in the last round. In Shamkir I won round 3, despite the black pieces. Yesterday as white against lowest rated Rauf Mamedov I got everything I could hope for from the opening having cemented his weak b-pawn at b7 and a pawn majority in the center. In the middlegame I did not find the best continuation and he defended very well. The queen and rook endgame is pleasant for white, but without a clear mistake from black it is difficult to make progress. If I had started to move my kingside pawns he would get counterplay. Surprisingly, slightly short on time, he blundered a pawn before the time control and resigned in disgust when I played Qf7. Not an entirely convincing last round victory, but overall Iím very satisfied with having made few mistakes, and the result 7 out of 9 is of course far better than expected.
Most of my strongest tournament performances in the past have been in 6-player double round robin tournaments. In 10 player all-play-all events (mainly Tal Memorial and Norway Chess) Iíve consistently scored +2 for several years. With the Grand Chess Tour using the 10-player format in Norway Chess, Sinquefield Cup and London Classics, scoring +5 in Shamkir was an encouraging prelude to the Tour☺
V.Anand played very well in Shamkir. In addition to the three victories he had some very promising and few worse positions. His clear 2nd place secured sufficient rating point gain to place 2nd on the May rating list.
My younger challengers Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana placed three and four with 5/9.
Iím leaving Shamkir tomorrow having spent the day at the local chess center playing a simul and enjoying a tour with spectacular views into the nearby mountains in the Gadabay district.
I hope to be back next year. The organizer Synergy Group has done everything possible to make the stay in Shamkir comfortable and pleasant for me and my team. Iím sure the other players join me in expressing gratitude for staging Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2015 in such an excellent way. Thank you!
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 27th, 2015
|Gashimov Memorial 2015 R7|
I have to go back to the winning streak in Wijk aan Zee in January to find something resembling the comfortable feeling of being in the zone at the chess board experienced here in Shamkir this week.
Today I tried to surprise Vladimir Kramnik in the opening with the choice of 1.e4 and a novelty in the d3 Ruy Lopez. Kramnik is probably the player with the best opening repertoire in the world, but still I was impressed with his knowledge in the variation today. He took the pawn I offered him on a5 and objectively the position was about equal. When he allowed Nxc6 I was getting optimistic and the queen against rook and bishop ending he went for should be winning for white. He made it simple for me with his Rd1.
The victory brought me to 5.5 points and a clear lead with two rounds to go. Anand won after an interesting exchange sacrifice against Adams and is sole second at 4.5 followed by Caruana and my opponent tomorrow Wesley So, at 4 points.
As during most chess tournaments my focus during the event is quite limited. I do appreciate that Shamkir is surrounded by snow-covered mountains in the horizon, and itís quite a sight on a clear sunny day. We visited a very good local restaurant a few kilometers out of town at the rest day Wednesday after the important and fun football tournament staged the same day.
Iím black against So at the usual 3pm local time Saturday.
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 24th, 2015
|Shamkir 2015 R1-3|
About an hour into round one Friday I blundered against Anand; A pawn down without counterplay. How different compared to last year when I started off with two quite nice victories and was close to winning round 3. Surprisingly, by now Iíve reached the same 2,5 out of 3 as last year. After the blunder I defended quite well against Anand. There might have been a win for white but the Kf5-line he chose ended draw after a few accurate defensive moves. Yesterday I won a smooth game against home favorite Mamedyarov. In round 3 as black against Caurana today I was a bit fortunate when Caruana started to drift in a drawish ending. He thought there were many ways to draw, but allowing Nf3+ was a mistake, and I donít think he could save the rook ending. Until a year ago we won several games each with white for a fairly even score, while from June 2014 onwards Iíve had black in six of our seven classical encounters and black has won four, white none!
Wesley So has played well and is co-leader after beating Giri and Adams with white and even putting some pressure on Kramnik as white. Kramnik is 3rd with 2 points followed by Anand, Vachier-Lagrave and Mamedov at 50%.
I have black tomorrow as well, against Michael Adams. I have a great score against him as white, but black is another matter.
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 19th, 2015
|Gashimov Memorial 2015 in Shamkir|
Last year Synergy Group demonstrated that they know how to organize a top level chess event, and I was thrilled to hear that they would host another elite event in memory of Vugar Gashimov in Shamkir this spring.
At the end of Easter I went for a training camp with Peter Heine Nielsen and others and arrived via Baku three days before the event. My opponent tomorrow, V.Anand, was already here. I drew no 7 and five black games in the grand opening ceremony earlier tonight. Having drawn 1st I have no one else than myself to blame☹. On the bright side I won most of the table tennis matches against Peter, my father Henrik and our chef Magnus Forssell this afternoon. Despite the harsh drawing, Iím filled with a joyous anticipation after a two-months tournament break.
We are staying at the fine Excelsior hotel a 10-minutes walk from the playing venue.
The participants include world no 2 Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand (6), Anish Giri (7), Wesley So (8), Vladimir Kramnik (9), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (11), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (13), Michael Adams (16) and Rauf Mamedov.
Iíve written a lot about my esteemed opponent tomorrow, V.Anand, in the past, and probably also the fact that we played already 10 years ago in a rapid-event in Leon in Spain. Since then we have played more than 50 classical games and many rapid and blitz (and blindfold) games. Finally during the World Championship match in Sochi last autumn I reached a positive score in classical chess after having trailed heavily in my teens (up to 1-6).
The organizer will broadcast the event and provide commentary in three languages. Round 1 starts at 3 pm local time (12 CET) Friday.
Magnus Carlsen, Shamkir, Azerbaijan, April 16th, 2015
A year ago my Rapid and Blitz chess ratings and world ranking (4th) was not satisfactory, and I promised to change the situation. Winning the World Rapid and Blitz Championships last summer helped, and based on live ratings I expect to be no 1 on both rating lists tomorrow March 1. It feels great to have all three World Championship titles and top rating spots simultaneously, but it is not going to be easy to defend that position.
In Baden-Baden early this month my level of play varied again as in Wijk, but as long as the overall performance was reasonably good, Iím quite satisfied. The final stage of the tournament was a thriller. After catching up with Naiditsch near the end, I had the chance to decide the tournament in the last round as white against Bacrot. It was not to be as I squandered a winning position just before the time control. Both Naiditsch and I drew our games reaching 4.5/7 and there was a blitz playoff that went all the way to Armageddon. After playing well in the first Rapid game my level of play went down drastically. With 2-2 in the Blitz portion I was unusually tense also for the must-win-with-white Armageddon. I got a nice initiative and he blundered or went astray with Bc5 after which I was simply winning due to his exposed king. Iím of course happy to have won another strong elite tournament, and Iím grateful to the hosts for organizing such a strong event in beautiful Baden-Baden!
My next tournament will be the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan in mid April, and if feels great finally to have had a few weeks at home, and still have time to both relax and prepare for the next event.
Next week Iím off to Barcelona and the week after to Cannes for my main sponsors Nordic Semiconductor and Arctic Securities respectively. Iíll also visit Iceland during Reykjavik Open, without playing myself, to finally see some of the attractions I missed out on in 2004 and 2006, and to see how some of my friends and my father are doing first hand☺
Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, February 28th, 2015
|Baden-Baden Grenke Chess Classic 2015 |
I played some Bundesliga games for the strongest German team Baden-Baden many years ago. It is great to be back in Baden-Baden for the arguably strongest tournament in Germany ever. The famous spa-town does have a long and important chess history with major events stretching back to the 19th century, as well as the first two editions of this event in 2013 and 2014.
I couldnít have asked for a better way to spend the few days between Tata Steel Chess and this event. Lots of sports every day and a great cross-country skiing trip last Saturday.
We are staying at the grandiose Brennerís Park-Hotel & Spa close to the playing venue, and during the five minutes walk to the venue for round 1 yesterday we had some real Norwegian weather with snow and hail. This must be my tournament!
We are playing 7 rounds with a restday Thursday, and my competitors are Caruana, Anand, Aronian, Adams, Bacrot, Naiditsch and Baramidze. The two local players qualified by winning the all-German edition last year. Nearly all of us have played for Baden-Baden in the past or are playing for Baden-Baden now. Some of the players as well as my coach Peter Heine Nielsen came straight from Bundesliga Sunday evening.
As in Wijk they turned the rating list upside down, and when it was my turn during drawing of lots Sunday night, no 6 was left resulting in 4 black games overall and 3 in the first 4 rounds.
The round 1 game against Aronian yesterday was quite interesting. After some maneuvering I got a bit too optimistic. Allowing gxf5 was an oversight, and I needed to find some accurate moves to equalize in time trouble from a cramped position. His advanced f-pawn turned out to be a weakness and I managed to but pressure on him in the 5th and 6th hour of play. He defended well and the game ended in a draw, as did all the other games.
Today I played white against the strongest UK player Michael Adams. He helped me during the World Championship match and knows me well. It was quite a challenge to find an interesting and promising opening. It was probably fairly balanced out of the opening, but at least my strong pawn center provided the potential dynamics to allow a lot of maneuvering. I felt I had found a good plan with a4 followed with b4 and a5 to force his bishop to a7. Surprisingly it was probably not enough to break through. Maybe he could have defended more successfully by simply standing still but completely passive defense is never easy. He gave up his b-pawn to keep his pieces active. It turned out he didnít have enough counterplay and I could slowly improve my position and trade off to a winning rook ending. All the other games ended draw despite lots of action, and Iím sole leader after two rounds.
Next Iím black against Naiditsch who beat me in the Olympiad in Tromsoe last year.
Magnus Carlsen, Baden-Baden February 3rd, 2015
|Winning Tata Steel 2015!|
It feels like ages since I had my 6-game winning streak. There are not many above-ten rounds elite tournaments outside FIDE, and even if I really like to come back to Wijk aan Zee year after year the last week is always long.
Some of my young competitors seemed to have retained enough energy for the last round, and I needed a draw to avoid a five-way tie for first.
The final round draw against Saric was my fourth in a row, and although I was unhappy with my own play (reminding me of the near-loss against Caruana in the last round of 2010), it was enough to win outright at +5. It brought me a slight rating gain for the first time since February 2014, and my fourth Tata Steel tournament victory.
It is also my first two wins in a row (2013 and 2015) in Wijk aan Zee as I didnít participate last year.
Vachier-Lagrave, Giri, So and Liren all ended at +4. Suddenly there are some 15-20 players in the world that may all win top events on the right day.
I need to continue to make progress to stay ahead in the future. A formidable challenge!
My 7 out of 13 decided games was more or less representative of the statís for the Masters group. It is always good to see a high number of decisive games.
On the way to the traditional closing event I was treated with an unexpected and heartwarming ceremony at the market square in Wijk aan Zee with the mayor, the local choir and lots of people present. Thank you!
The organizer did a great job as usual making the players feel most welcome and I think the ďtourĒ Ė playing two rounds in other cities - works well.
It is less than a week till my next tournament in Baden-Baden, and after some rest I hope to be back in good shape for another interesting event starting February 2nd.
Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, January 27th, 2015
|Tata Steel Chess Tournament R10|
In my last blog the tide had started to turn with the R4 victory against Loek van Wely. I consider myself an optimist but winning the next five rounds as well came as a pleasant surprise. I did play well in the important games against Aronian in R5 in Rotterdam and against Caruana the day after. I have mixed feelings about the next three games as I missed some tactical tricks. On the bright side my positional evaluations were in general satisfactory. And of course; Winning helps.
Maybe inspired by Norway Chess two rounds are played in other Dutch cities. With the traveling it results in potential long days for the players, but it is a great way to bring chess to the world.
Against V. Ivanchuk you never know what to expect. It turned out he just wanted to force a draw with white yesterday and the Ragozin line I played did not offer any real possibility of stopping him. The game in Den Haag finished in less than half an hour. I was happy to spend 30-40 minutes as a live-commentator instead. For those interested thereís an imbedded video at: https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-rampage-ends-with-a-brilliant-interview
The ridiculously short game yesterday followed by a rest day today is a bit too much. It helped to play some bowling yesterday evening and a long session of basketball this morning.
Currently Iím sole leader with 7.5/10 followed by Wesley So, US (former Phlipines) and Vachier-Lagrave, France at 6.5 and F.Caruana, Ding Liren from China, A.Giri from Holland and Ivanchuk, Ukraine at 6.
The below-25 players are dominating thus far. Whether it is the anticipated change of guard or the young composition of the field (without for instance Anand, Topalov, Kramnik and Grischuk) is hard to tell.
I look forward to play again Friday. Iím white against Vachier-Lagrave at 1:30 pm, and the tournament finishes Sunday.
Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 22nd 2015
|Tata Steel Chess 2015 is on!|
Eleven years ago I scored my first Grandmaster norm in the C-group here in Wijk aan Zee. At the time it was by far my best performance to date.
After two subsequent years in the B-group, I played the A-group seven years in a row 2007-13, winning three of them. It was with mixed feelings I watched the tournament last year from afar and Iím really happy to be back this year.
The Tata Steel Chess tournament (formerly Corus and before that Hoogovens) stands out due to the combination of strength, long tradition (77th edition!), the unique 14 players all-play-all format, and the combination of elite events with plenty of amateur tournaments in parallel.
With 13 rounds a slow start is not necessarily critical, but 1/3 after two draws against Giri and So and a loss against Anand-second Radoslaw Wojtaczek was just dismal.
Over the years the Dutch organizers hase been forthcoming in many ways, and on a number of occasions also the Dutch participants have contributed significantly to my results☺
Yesterday as black against Look van Wely I was worse out of the opening. He played solidly and my attempt at creativity once again turned out less of a success than I had hoped.
Fortunately he spent a lot of time in the critical early middle game and with several good knight-options available went for Qb3 instead having missed my response Qe6. After trading queens the position was about equal but with a lot of play for both sides. Short on time he made some accuracies and I managed to play fairly precisely to win just after the time control.
Ivanchuk is sole leader with 3.5/4 followed by Caruana and Ding Liren with 3/4. Iím in the middle of the pack with 2/4.
Iím here with my coach P.H.Nielsen as well as my father Henrik, and for a few days now a couple of friends from back home as well.
As usual we played football with some of the other chess players on the rest day today.
Last year the organizer introduced new playing sites for some rounds and this year round 5 will take place in Rotterdam and later we will go to Den Haag for round 10.
With 9 rounds to go I look forward to the continuation, and tomorrow Iím white against four-time winner of this event Levon Aronian!
Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 14th, 2015
|Looking back at 2014|
2014 has been a very good year for me as a chess player. Probably my best to date, although - while the results have been fully satisfactory for me -my level of play has varied too much. Iíll be striving to improve my game in 2015.
What about memorable moments? It depends on what matters most.
It is hard to compare winning the top titles (classical, rapid and blitz) in chess, or winning a close to perfect game, or the sensation of exceeding your own expectation or reaching a challenging target.
In the spur of the moment any one of those experiences are truly exhilarating, even compared to winning my first Norwegian (U11) championship back in year 2000 which in a way has been a yard stick for me personally.
Longer term; titles, world ranking and maybe also Chess Oscars are permanent achievements I will treasure now and later in life.
2014 has been remarkable in that most top level events have been covered live on main TV and through extensive internet coverage. I was thrilled to learn that more than half the Norwegian population tuned in to the Carlsen-Anand World Championship live TV coverage from Sochi in November.
Iím proud to note that Arctic Securities has been one of my main sponsors for more than 5 consecutive years and we will continue the stimulating cooperation in 2015. I wish all of you and all those reading this blog a Happy New Year!
Last but not least, let me thank all of you; sponsors, management, trainers, seconds and family and others, that have helped in the past or are helping me day to day or occasionally nowadays one way or another contributing to success!
Magnus Carlsen, December 31st, 2014