Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen, 2008
Full name Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen
Country Norway
Born 30 November 1990 (1990-11-30) (age 20)
Tønsberg, Norway
Title Grandmaster
FIDE rating 2826
(No. 1 in the November 2011 FIDE World Rankings)
Peak rating 2826
(July 2010)

Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen (born 30 November 1990) is a Norwegian chess Grandmaster and chess prodigy who is currently the number-one ranked player in the world. In January 2010 he became the seventh player ranked number one in the world on the official FIDE rating list. His peak rating is 2826, the second highest peak rating in history after Garry Kasparov.[1]

On 26 April 2004 Carlsen became a Grandmaster at the age of &1000000000000001300000013 years, &10000000000000148000000148 days, making him the third-youngest Grandmaster in history. On 1 January 2010 the new FIDE rating list was published, and at the age of &1000000000000001900000019 years, &1000000000000003200000032 days he became the youngest chess player in history to be ranked world number one, breaking the record previously held by Vladimir Kramnik.[2] Carlsen was also the 2009 World blitz chess champion.

His performance at the September–October 2009 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament has been described as one of the greatest in history[3] and lifted him to an Elo rating of 2801, making him the fifth player to achieve a rating over 2800 – and aged 18 years 10 months at the time, by far the youngest to do so.

Based on his rating, Carlsen qualified for the Candidates Tournament which determined the challenger to World Champion Viswanathan Anand in the World Chess Championship 2012. However in November 2010 he announced he was withdrawing from the Candidates tournament; he was replaced by Alexander Grischuk.[4]



Born in Tønsberg, Vestfold, Carlsen currently lives in Haslum, Bærum, near Norway's capital, Oslo. He played his first chess tournament at the age of eight and was later coached at a Norwegian high school (for athletes) by the country's top player, Grandmaster (GM) Simen Agdestein. Agdestein introduced his civil worker Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, currently an International Master, to Carlsen, and they had one training session every week, along with one of Carlsen's close friends. Becoming an International Master, Carlsen was given a year off from elementary school to participate in international chess tournaments during the fall season of 2003. In that same year, he finished third in the European Under-12 Boys Championship.

Chess career


Carlsen playing simultaneous chess in Molde in July 2004

Carlsen was brought to the attention of the international chess world after his victory in the C group at the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee. He had a score of 10½/13, losing just one game (against the highest rated player of the C group, Dusko Pavasovic).[5] As a result of the victory, he took his first Grandmaster norm and achieved a performance rating of 2702. Particularly notable was his win over Sipke Ernst in the penultimate round, when Carlsen sacrificed material to mate him in just 29 moves.[6] Carlsen won the Audience Prize for that game, as the best game of the round (including the games played in the A and B groups). The first 23 moves in that game had already been played in another game Almagro Llanas-Gustafsson, Madrid 2003 (which ended in a draw), but Carlsen's over-the-board novelty immediately led to a winning position. Carlsen's victory in the C group qualified him to play in the B group in 2005, and it also led Lubomir Kavalek, writing for the Washington Post, to give him the title "Mozart of chess". Agdestein, who was once a young GM at 18, said in an interview that Carlsen was a significantly better player than he was himself at the same age. He also said that Carlsen had an excellent memory and played an unusually wide range of different openings. Carlsen's prowess caught the attention of Microsoft, who became his sponsor.[7]

Carlsen obtained his second GM norm in the Moscow Aeroflot Open in February 2004. In a blitz chess tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland, Carlsen defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov on 17 March 2004. The blitz tournament was a preliminary event leading up to a rapid knockout tournament beginning the next day, where Carlsen achieved one draw against Garry Kasparov, who was then the top-rated player in the world, before losing to Kasparov after 32 moves of the second game, thus being knocked out of the tournament.[8]

In the sixth Dubai Open Chess Championship, held 18–28 April 2004, Carlsen obtained his third Grandmaster norm (enough for getting the GM title), after getting four wins and four draws before the last game was to be played. As a result of this he was at the time the world's youngest Grandmaster and the second youngest person ever to hold GM status, after Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine who attained the feat at 12 years and 7 months of age in 2002.[9]

Carlsen was the youngest player ever to participate in the FIDE World Chess Championship 2004, but was knocked out in the first round on tie breaks by Levon Aronian.

In July 2004, Carlsen and Berge Østenstad (then the reigning Norwegian champion) tied for first in the Norwegian Chess Championship, each scoring seven out of nine possible points. A two-game match between them was arranged to decide the title. Both games were drawn, which left Østenstad the champion because he had superior tiebreaks in the tournament.


In Smartfish Chess Masters at the Drammen chess festival 2004–05 (Norway) Carlsen defeated Alexei Shirov, ranked number 10[10] in the world.[11] In June 2005 in the Ciudad de Leon rapid chess tournament Carlsen played a four-game semi-final against Viswanathan Anand, who was ranked second in the world at the time. Magnus lost 3–1. Carlsen was invited to the tournament as the most promising young chess player in 2005.

In the 2005 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen again finished in a shared first place, this time with his mentor Simen Agdestein. A playoff between them was arranged between 7 November and 10 November. This time Carlsen had the better tiebreaks, but the rule giving the player with better tiebreaks scores the title in the event of a 1–1 draw had been revoked previously. The match was closely fought, Agdestein won the first game, Carlsen won the second, so the match went into a phase of two and two rapid games until there was a winner. Carlsen won the first rapid game, Agdestein the second. Then followed a series of three draws until Agdestein won the championship title with a victory in the sixth rapid game.

At the end of 2005 he participated at the World Chess Cup 2005 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. In the knock-out tournament, Carlsen upset the 44th-ranked Georgian Zurab Azmaiparashvili in round one, winning 2–0 at rapid chess after a 1–1 tie in the normal length games, and proceeded to beat Tajik Farrukh Amonatov and Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov (also after rapid chess) to reach the round of 16. There he lost 1½–2½ to Evgeny Bareev, which prevented him from finishing in the top eight. He then won against Joël Lautier 1½–½ and Vladimir Malakhov 3½–2½ securing him at least a tenth place and therefore a spot in the Candidate Matches. Carlsen became the youngest player to be an official World Championship Candidate.

In October 2005 he took first place at the Arnold Eikrem Memorial in Gausdal with eight out of nine points and a performance rating of 2792 at the age of 14.[12]


In the January 2006 fide list, at the age of 15 years and 31 days, he officially attained 2625 elo rating, which made Carlsen the youngest person to break the 2600 elo barrier. In 2008, Wesley So broke that record. Carlsen qualified for a place in the Corus B group from his 2005 first place in Corus group C. His shared first with Motylev with 9/13 (+6 -1 =6) qualified him to play in the Corus A group in 2007.

In the 2006 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen was close to winning outright, but a last round loss to Berge Østenstad again tied him for first place with Agdestein. The last-round loss deprived Magnus of beating Agdestein's record of becoming the youngest Norwegian champion ever. Nonetheless, in the play-off 19–21 November Carlsen won 3–1. After two draws in the initial full time games, Magnus won both rapid games in round two, securing his first Norwegian championship.

Magnus won the 2006 Glitnir Blitz Tournament[13] in Iceland. He won 2–0 over Viswanathan Anand (2003 FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion, 2004 Amber Rapid Chess Champion, 2007 FIDE Classical World Champion) in the semi finals. Carlsen also won 2–0 in the finals.[14]

Magnus scored 6/8 in the 37th Chess Olympiad in 2006 against opponents averaging 2627 Elo, gaining 18 Elo (a rating performance of 2820 points). One of his notable wins was against top English grandmaster Michael Adams.[15]

In the Midnight Sun Chess Tournament, Carlsen had some misses and came in second, beaten by Sergei Shipov (FIDE-Elo: 2576).

In the 2006 Biel grandmaster tournament he achieved second place, after having beaten the eventual winner Alexander Morozevich twice (once with each color).

In the NH Chess Tournament held in Amsterdam in August 2006, Carlsen participated in an 'Experience' v 'Rising Stars' Scheveningen team match. The 'Rising Stars' won the match 22–28 with Carlsen achieving the best individual score for the youngsters, 6½/10 and a 2700 Elo performance, thus winning the right to participate in the 2007 Melody Amber tournament.[16]

In the World Blitz Championship at Rishon LeZion, Israel in September 2006, he was number 8 of 16 participants with 7½/15 points.

In the rapid chess tournament Rencontres nationales et internationales d'échecs in Cap d'Agde, France he got to the semifinal, losing to Sergey Karjakin.

Carlsen achieved a shared eighth place of 10 participants in the Mikhail Tal Memorial in Moscow with two losses and seven draws. In the associated blitz tournament Tal Blitz Cup he received 17½/34 points and ninth place in a group of 18 participants.


In the 2007 Corus chess tournament Carlsen, playing in group A for the first time, had to settle for the last place after nine draws and four losses, scoring 4½ points in 13 rounds.

Magnus Carlsen vs. Levon Aronian at Linares 2007

In the prestigious Linares chess tournament Carlsen met the following top-rated players: Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian, Peter Leko, and Vassily Ivanchuk (replacing Teimour Radjabov). With the significantly lowest Elo rating, he achieved a second place (on tiebreaks) with 7½ points after four wins, seven draws and three losses, and an Elo performance of 2778.

In March 2007, Carlsen played for the first time in the Melody Amber blind and rapid chess tournament in Monte Carlo. In the 11 rounds he achieved eight draws and three losses in the blindfold, and three wins, seven draws and one loss in the rapid part. This resulted in a shared ninth place in the blindfold, shared second place in the rapid (beaten only by Anand), and an eighth place in the overall tournament.

In May–June 2007, he participated in the Candidates Tournament for the FIDE World Chess Championship 2007. He was paired with the top seed Levon Aronian. The six-game match was drawn (two wins, two draws, and two losses), with Carlsen coming from behind twice. The four-game rapid playoff was drawn as well (one win, two draws, and one loss), with Carlsen winning the last game to stay in the match. Finally, Aronian won both tiebreaker (blitz) games, to eliminate Carlsen from the Championship.

In the July 2007 FIDE list, at the age of 16 years and 7 months, he officially attained 2710 Elo rating, which made Carlsen the youngest person to break the 2700 Elo barrier. As of January 2011, this record has not been broken.

In July–August 2007, he won the International Chess Festival Biel Grandmaster Tournament 2007, with a +2 record (an Elo performance of 2753). His score was equalled by Alexander Onischuk and by the tie-breaker rule of the tournament, they played a tie-breaker match to determine the winner. After drawing two rapid and two blitz games, Carlsen won the armageddon game. He became the youngest person ever to win a category 18 tournament.

Immediately after the Biel tournament, Carlsen entered the open Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, but his +5=4 and fourth place result was somewhat disappointing. In the first round, Carlsen surprisingly conceded a draw to his classmate Brede Hagen (rated 2034)[17] after having a lost position at one point.[18] A game which attracted some attention was his sixth round win over his own father, Henrik Carlsen.[19]

In December 2007, he reached the semi-final round of the World Chess Cup 2007, after defeating Michael Adams in the round of 16, and Ivan Cheparinov in the quarter-finals. In the semi-final, he was eliminated by the eventual winner Gata Kamsky, ½:1½.


Carlsen in Bilbao, 2008

Playing for the second time in the top group A of the Corus chess tournament, Carlsen showed a big improvement over his 2007 performance. His final score was eight points in 13 rounds, an Elo performance of 2830. Carlsen scored five wins (including as Black against former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik), two losses and six draws. He shared first place with Levon Aronian, becoming the youngest person ever to win a category 20 tournament.

At the 2008 Linares chess tournament, Carlsen had another 2800+ Elo performance, scoring eight out of fourteen (five wins, three losses and six draws). He finished in sole second place, ½ point behind the winner, world champion Viswanathan Anand.

In March 2008, Carlsen played for the second time in the Melody Amber blind and rapid chess tournament, which was held in Nice for the first time. In the 11 rounds he achieved four wins, four draws and two losses in the blindfold, and three wins, six draws and two losses in the rapid part. This resulted in a shared fifth place in the blindfold, shared third place in the rapid and a shared second place in the overall tournament.

Carlsen was one of 21 players in the six-tournament FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2009, a qualifier for the World Chess Championship 2012. In the first tournament, in Baku, Azerbaijan, in April–May 2008, he finished in a three-way tie for first place, with another 2800 Elo performance. Carlsen later withdrew from the Grand Prix cycle despite his initial success, citing "dramatic change[s] to ... regulations."[20]

Carlsen won a rapid match against Peter Leko held at Miskolc, Hungary, scoring 5:3 (two wins, six draws).[21]

In June, Carlsen won an annual Aerosvit event.[22] In his strongest tournament performance at that point in his career, he finished undefeated with eight out of eleven (five wins, six draws) in a category 19 field. His Elo performance was 2878.

Playing in a category 18 Biel tournament, Carlsen finished third with six points out of ten (three wins, one loss, six draws), with Elo performance of 2741, his first sub-2800 performance of 2008.

In the Mainz World Rapid Chess Championship, Carlsen finished in second place after losing the final to defending champion Anand 3:1 (two losses, two draws).[23] To reach the final Magnus played against Judit Polgár scoring 1½ point out of two (one win, one draw), against Anand scoring one point out of two (two draws) and against Morozevich scoring one point out of two (two draws).

In the category 21 Bilbao Masters, Carlsen finished second with a 2768 performance rating (three wins, three losses, four draws).


Playing in Group A of the Corus chess tournament, Carlsen tied for fifth with a 2739 performance (two wins, one loss, ten draws).[24]

In the Linares chess tournament, Carlsen finished third with a 2777 performance (three wins, two losses, nine draws). In this tournament, he defeated World Champion Viswanathan Anand[25] and the eventual winner Alexander Grischuk[26] for the first time under classical time controls.

Carlsen tied for second place with Veselin Topalov at the M-Tel Masters (category 21) tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. He lost to eventual winner Alexei Shirov in their final game, dropping him from first.[27]

Carlsen won the category 21 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament, 2½ points ahead of second-place finisher Topalov, the world's highest-rated player at the time.[28] He scored 8/10 (six wins, four draws, no losses), winning every game as White (against Topalov, Wang Yue, Leko, Radjabov, and Jakovenko), and also winning as Black against Jakovenko. By rating performance, this was one of the greatest results in history, with a performance rating of 3002.[29] This lifted his FIDE rating to 2801, making him the 5th and youngest player to ever surpass 2800.

In the Tal Memorial 2009, played from 5 November to 14 November, Carlsen started with seven straight draws, but finished with wins over Ruslan Ponomariov and Peter Leko. This result put Carlsen in shared second place behind Kramnik and equal with Ivanchuk.[30][31]

After the Tal Memorial, Carlsen won the 2009 World Blitz Championship, played from 16 November to 18 November in Moscow, Russia. His score of 28 wins, 6 draws and 8 losses left him three points ahead of Anand, who finished in second place.[32]

Carlsen entered the 2009 London Chess Classic as the top seed in a field including Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Ni Hua, Luke McShane and David Howell. He defeated Kramnik in round one and went on to win the tournament with 13/21 (three points were awarded for a win, and one for a draw; using classical scoring he finished with 5/7) and a performance rating of 2844, one point ahead of Kramnik. This victory has propelled him to the top of the FIDE rating list, surpassing Veselin Topalov.

Carlsen's average rating from the July 2009 and January 2010 FIDE lists will enable him to qualify for the Candidates Tournament of the World Chess Championship 2012 cycle.

In early 2009 Carlsen engaged former world champion Garry Kasparov as a personal trainer.[33] In September 2009 their partnership was confirmed in Norwegian newspapers.[34][35]

In a December 2009 interview with TIME Magazine, in response to a question whether he used computers when studying chess, Carlsen revealed that he does not use a chess set when studying on his own.[36]

He won the Chess Oscar for 2009.[37] The Chess Oscar is awarded to the year's best player according to a worldwide poll of leading chess critics, writers, and journalists conducted by the Russian chess magazine 64.


Ahead of 2010, Carlsen said that he would be playing in fewer tournaments the coming year. The cooperation with Kasparov continued until March that year.[38]

Carlsen won the Corus chess tournament played January 16–31 with 8½ points (five wins, seven draws, one loss). His ninth-round loss to Kramnik ended a streak of 36 rated games undefeated.[39] Carlsen appeared to struggle in the last round against Fabiano Caruana, but saved a draw leaving him half a point ahead of Kramnik and Shirov.[40]

The March 2010 FIDE rating list showed Carlsen with a new peak rating of 2813, a figure that only Kasparov has bettered.[41] In the same month it was announced that Carlsen had split from Kasparov and would no longer be using him as a trainer,[41] although this was put into different context by Carlsen himself in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel stating that they would remain in contact and that he would continue to attend training sessions with Kasparov.[42]

Carlsen shared first place alongside Ivanchuk in the Amber 2010 blindfold and rapid tournament. Carlsen scored 6½ points in the blindfold and 8 points in the rapid, giving 14½ points from a possible 22 points.

In May 2010 it was revealed that Carlsen had helped Viswanathan Anand prepare for the World Chess Championship 2010 against challenger Veselin Topalov, which Anand won 6½-5½ to retain the title. Carlsen had also helped Anand prepare for the World Chess Championship 2007 and World Chess Championship 2008.[43]

In his first tournament since his announced departure from Kasparov, Carlsen played in the Bazna Kings Tournament in Romania from June 14 through June 25. The tournament was a double round robin event involving Wang Yue, Boris Gelfand, former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, Teimour Radjabov, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. After drawing his first three games, Carlsen won his next four and set a personal livechess rating peak of 2825.1.[44] He finished with 7½/10 and a 2918 performance rating, winning the tournament by two points over Radjabov and Gelfand.[45][46] The victory ensured that Carlsen remained at the top of the Elo rating list. His official rating hit 2826, a figure exceeded only by Kasparov and just 25 points shy of tying Kasparov's all-time record.

Carlsen then played in a rapid tournament from August 28 to August 30 at the Arctic Securities Chess Stars tournament in Kristiansund, Norway. The field featured world champion Viswanathan Anand, female world #1 Judit Polgár, and Jon Ludvig Hammer. In the preliminary round robin, Carlsen scored 3½/6 to qualify for the final, second behind Anand.[47] In the final, Carlsen defeated Anand 1½-½ to win the championship.[48]

Following this event, Carlsen suffered setbacks in his next two tournaments. In the 39th Chess Olympiad from September 19 to October 4, he scored 4½/8, losing three games, to Baadur Jobava, Michael Adams and Sanan Sjugirov; these were his first losses with the black pieces in more than a year.[49] His team, Norway, finished 51st out of 149 teams.[50]

Carlsen's next tournament was the Grand Slam Masters Final from October 9 to October 15, 2010, which he had qualified for automatically by winning three of the previous year's four Grand Slam chess events (2009 Nanjing Pearl Spring, 2010 Corus, 2010 Bazna Kings). Along with Carlsen, the finals consisted of World Champion Viswanathan Anand and the highest two scorers from the preliminary stage held in Shanghai in September, which featured Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexei Shirov, and Wang Hao; Shirov and Kramnik qualified.[51][52] The official September 2010 ratings of Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik and Shirov made the Grand Slam final the strongest tournament in chess history, with an average ELO of 2789. In the first round, Carlsen lost on the black side of the Queen's Indian Defense to Kramnik; this was Carlsen's second consecutive loss to Kramnik, and placed his hold on the world #1 ranking in serious jeopardy. In his second round, Carlsen lost with the white pieces to Anand in the Ruy Lopez; this was his first loss as white since January 2010, and dropped him to world #2 in the live rankings behind Anand. Carlsen recovered somewhat in the latter part of the tournament, finishing with 2½/6, including a win over Shirov; the tournament was won by Kramnik with 4/6.[53] Carlsen finished this tournament with a rating of 2802, two points behind Anand at 2804 who officially ended Carlsen's reign at world #1. These setbacks called into question from some whether Carlsen's activities outside chess, such as modelling for G-Star Raw, was distracting him from performing well at the chess board.[54] Carlsen said he did not believe there was a direct connection, and that he was looking forward to the Pearl Spring tournament, where he had scored 8/10 in 2009.[55]

Following the Grand Slam Masters Final, Carlsen's next tournament was the 2010 Pearl Spring chess tournament, from October 19 to 30 in Nanjing, China, against Anand, world #2 Veselin Topalov, Vugar Gashimov, Wang Yue, and Étienne Bacrot.[56] This was the only tournament in 2010 to feature Anand, Carlsen and Topalov, at the time the top three players in the world, and was the first tournament in history to feature three players rated at least 2800. With early wins over Bacrot, Yue, and Topalov with white, Carlsen took the early lead, extending his winning streak with white in Nanjing to eight. This streak was halted by a draw to Anand in round seven, but in the penultimate round Carlsen secured first place by defeating Topalov with the black pieces. This was his second victory in the tournament over the former world #1, and improved his score to 6½/9.[57] The victory clinched Carlsen a place in the 2011 Grand Slam Chess Masters final, his final score of 7/10 (with a performance rating of 2903) was a full point ahead of runner-up Anand, and moved him back to world #1 on the live rankings.

Carlsen next played in the 2010 World Blitz Championship, in Moscow from November 16 to 18, attempting to defend his 2009 title. With a score of 23.5/38, he finished in third place behind Teimour Radjabov and winner Levon Aronian.[58]

Carlsen won the 2010 London Chess Classic from December 8 to 15 in a field comprising world champion Viswanathan Anand, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, American number one Hikaru Nakamura, and British players Michael Adams, Nigel Short, David Howell, and Luke McShane.[59] Carlsen had a rocky start, losing his Black games to McShane and Anand in rounds 1 and 3, but winning with White against Adams and Nakamura in rounds 2 and 4. He joined the lead with a Black win over Howell in round 5, and managed to stay in the lead following a harrowing draw with Black against Kramnik in round 6, before defeating Short in the last round with White. Since the tournament was played with three points for a win, Carlsen's +4=1-2 score put him ahead of Anand and McShane who scored +2=5 (a more traditional two-points-for-a-win system would have yielded a three-way tie, with Carlsen still on top having the better tiebreaker due to four games with black - Anand and McShane had to play only three times with black).

Carlsen won the Chess Oscar for 2010 by narrowly beating Viswanathan Anand.[60]


Carlsen competed in the GM-A group of the Tata Steel Chess (Corus) tournament from January 14 to 30 in Wijk aan Zee in an attempt to defend his title;[61] the field included world champion Viswanathan Anand, reigning world blitz champion Levon Aronian, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Hikaru Nakamura, and former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov among others. Despite losing games with White against Anish Giri and reigning Russian champion Ian Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen finished with 8.0/13, including victories over Kramnik and tournament winner Hikaru Nakamura. Although Carlsen's performance raised his rating from 2814 to 2815, Anand's 8.5/13 score elevated his rating to 2817, making him the official world #1 for the March 2011 FIDE rating list.

The first tournament victory of 2011 came in the Bazna Kings tournament, a double round-robin played in Medias from June 11 to June 21. Carlsen finished with 6.5 points (+3=7), equal with Sergey Karjakin but with a better tiebreak score. Carlsen won his White games against Nakamura, Nisipeanu, and Ivanchuk and drew the rest of the games.[62] This result raised Carlsen's rating by six points to 2821, and returned Carlsen to first place on the live rating list.

As of November 2011, Carlsen is again #1 on the official FIDE rating list with a 2826 rating.

Bilbao Masters October 2011 – Carlsen won the tournament after a blitz tiebreak. The first leg of the Grand Slam was staged in São Paulo, Ibirapuera Park, from September 25th to October 1st, the second leg took place in Bilbao, Alhóndiga, from 5th to 11th October. Tournament system: double round robin with six players over ten rounds. Participating in this grand slam chess event were world Champion Viswanathan Anand, world number one Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura, Vasily Ivanchuk, and Francisco Vallejo Pons.

Playing style

As a teenager, Carlsen became known for his attacking playing style. His win over Sipke Ernst in the 2004 Wijk aan Zee C-group[63] which ended with an epaulette mate was an example of the play that was admired by several other chess players. As he matured, Carlsen found that this risky playing style was not as well suited against the world elite. Around 2005 Carlsen was struggling against more experienced grandmasters, and had trouble getting much out of the opening. To progress, Carlsen became a more universal player, capable of handling all sorts of positions well. In the opening, Carlsen has alternated between various opening moves. Instead of specializing in either 1.d4 or 1.e4, Carlsen has alternated between them, thus making it harder for opponents to prepare against him.[64]

Since the announcement that he was coaching Carlsen, Garry Kasparov has repeatedly stated that Carlsen has a positional style, similar to that of past world champions such as Anatoly Karpov, José Capablanca and Vassily Smyslov, rather than the tactical style of Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Tal and himself.[65]


In the October 2006 FIDE Elo ratings, Carlsen advanced to world number 22 with a rating of 2698.[66] In the January 2007 ratings he dropped to 2690 and rank 24.[67] In the July 2007 ratings, after a series of strong results, Carlsen advanced to become world number 17 with a rating of 2710.[68] On the January 2008 FIDE rating list he was rated at 2733,[69] and on October 2008 he reached 2786 Elo rating.[70] He was placed sixth in the July 2008 list, but if his Aerosvit result had been included he would have been ranked second. The omission of the Aerosvit result, which finished after the cut-off date for the July 2008 list, caused some controversy.[71]

On 5 September 2008, after winning round 4 in the Bilbao Grand Slam chess championship, Carlsen, still under 18, briefly became number one on the unofficial live ratings list.[72][73]

Carlsen's September–October 2009 victory in the Nanjing Pearl tournament raised his official rating to 2801, making him at age 18 the youngest player ever to break 2800.[74] The youngest before him was Vladimir Kramnik at age 25.[75] Besides Carlsen, only Kasparov, Topalov, Kramnik, and Anand had achieved a 2800 rating (Levon Aronian later accomplished the feat in October 2010). Carlsen said that he hoped his victory would mark the "beginning of a new era."[76]

After the Tal Memorial (November 2009) he became number one in the unofficial live chess rating list with his new peak rating of 2805.7, 0.6 point over the number 2, Veselin Topalov.[77]

The official FIDE rankings were published on 1 January 2010, and the 16 games played at the Tal Memorial and the London Chess Classic were enough to raise his rating by 8.6 rating points to 2810.[78] This meant that Carlsen started 2010 by being the official (and, at the age of &1000000000000001900000019 years, &1000000000000003200000032 days, the youngest ever) world number one, and also the first player from a western nation to reach the top in the FIDE rating list since Bobby Fischer in 1972.[79][80] The press coverage of this feat included an interview and article in Time magazine.[81][82]

Standing on each top 100 FIDE list

Magnus Carlsen Elo rating evolution since 2001.
Rating list Rating Games Change World ranking Age
January 2006 2625 40 +55 89 15 years, 01 month
April 2006 2646 13 +21 63 15 years, 04 months
July 2006 2675 27 +29 31 15 years, 07 months
October 2006 2698 46 +23 21 15 years, 10 months
January 2007 2690 11 −8 24 16 years, 01 month
April 2007 2693 27 +3 22 16 years, 04 months
July 2007 2710 19 +17 17 16 years, 07 months
October 2007 2714 25 +4 16 16 years, 10 months
January 2008 2733 37 +19 13 17 years, 01 month
April 2008 2765 27 +32 5 17 years, 04 months
July 2008 2775 16 +10 6 17 years, 07 months
October 2008 2786 31 +11 4 17 years, 10 months
January 2009 2776 17 −10 4 18 years, 01 month
April 2009 2770 27 −6 3 18 years, 04 months
July 2009 2772 12 +2 3 18 years, 07 months
September 2009 2772 10 0 4 18 years, 09 months
November 2009 2801 10 +29 2 18 years, 11 months
January 2010 2810 16 +9 1 19 years, 01 month
March 2010 2813 13 +3 1 19 years, 03 months
May 2010 2813 0 0 1 19 years, 05 months
July 2010 2826 10 +13 1 19 years, 07 months
September 2010 2826 0 0 1 19 years, 09 months
November 2010 2802 14 −24 2 19 years, 11 months
January 2011 2814 17 +12 1 20 years, 01 month
March 2011 2815 13 +1 2 20 years, 03 months
May 2011 2815 0 0 2 20 years, 05 months
July 2011 2821 10 +6 1 20 years, 07 months
September 2011 2823 10 +2 1 20 years, 09 months
November 2011 2826 10 +3 1 20 years, 11 months
  • bold, new peak rating

Books and films

Beyond chess

Magnus Carlsen modeled for G-Star Raw's Fall/Winter 2010 advertising campaign.[84]


  1. ^ "Medias R10: Magnus Carlsen wins with two-point lead". ChessBase. 2010-06-25. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  2. ^ It's official: Magnus Carlsen is number one!, Chessbase, accessed 02 January 2010
  3. ^
  4. ^ Magnus Carlsen drops out of World Championship cycle, Chessbase, 5-Nov-2010
  5. ^ Corus Chess 2004: Crosstable of grandmaster group C. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
  6. ^ Corus Chess 2004: Report of round 12 – CCT 2004: Hiccup for Anand – Carlsen Supreme. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
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External links

Official links

News items and interviews

Preceded by
Leinier Domínguez
World Blitz Chess Champion
Succeeded by
Levon Aronian
Preceded by
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
Viswanathan Anand
World No. 1
January 1, 2010 – October 31, 2010
January 1, 2011  - February 28, 2011
July 1, 2011 - present
Succeeded by
Viswanathan Anand
Viswanathan Anand

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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