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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After Berlin 2015

I considered myself the main favorite in the Blitz World Championship last week, but maybe it was easier to win the Rapid part. Not necessarily because of how it turned out in the end. The margins are smaller in Blitz, and my own expectations maybe too high. In the longer time control I managed to stay calm and won fairly controlled by playing reasonably well with just a few exceptions. In the Blitz I played really well the first day, but the last round loss against Karjakin (resulting in 9 out of 11 after day 1) rocked the boat. In three-days events you may win even with one poor day, not so in a two-day Blitz. I blundered over and over again on the second day, and didnīt manage to find my rhythm. Despite the poor 50% score of the day I was still in contention for 1st with two rounds to go. Blundering mate in two against Ivanchuk in a good position after having survived a disastrous opening sealed a 6th place in the end. Congratulations to Grischuk who clinched 1st in the end ahead of long time leader Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik. Overall it was a great and very exciting event and hopefully a valuable learning experience for future Rapid and Blitz events. The coming week Iíll visit Trondheim for my main sponsor Nordic Semiconductor on Monday and Bergen to play a simul for my main sponsor Simonsen Vogt Wiig on Wednesday. I look forward to both events. The next two weeks will be relatively quiet before a period of four classic events in just two and a half months. First Iíll play for Norway in the European Team Championship in Reykjavik from November 13, followed by London Classics early December, Doha Open late December and last but not least Tata Steal Chess 2016 in 2nd half of January. Magnus Carlsen, Oslo, October 18th, 2015

2015-10-19 00:40:35

Rapid & Blitz World Championship Berlin 2015

The Rapid and Blitz World Championships take place in well-suited facilities in Bolle Meierei in Berlin this year. Iíve been looking forward to these events for quite some time. Winning both events in 2014 in Dubai gave me the clear goal of defending my titles this time. Iíve prepared specifically for these events for some time, including a training camp with Nielsen and Fressinet in Oslo the week before last. A week ago I did a challenging blindfold clock simultaneous display against 5 players with 12 minutes on the clock in Vienna for one of my main sponsors. Arriving in Berlin early I spent three days playing training games with Vladimir Kramnik (who finished 6th in the rapid). The Rapid event attracted most of the World elite grandmasters with the exception of the strongest Americans (who take part in Millionaire Chess in Las Vegas instead) and the Chinese. The time control was 15 minutes each plus 10 seconds increments per move per player. We played 5 rounds spread over more than 7 hours per day for three days. Last year I scored 4, 4 and 3 points on the three days, and 11 points was enough to win outright. 4/5 on day one was enough for shared 2nd this time, and another repeat 4/5 on day two brought me into shared lead. I was generally doing well winning several hard-fought battles in pressed situations and equal endgames by a combination of more time on the clock, experience and good technique. As usual the final stretch was decisive. In 2014 I played Aronian, Anand and Grischuk in rounds 11 to 13 while this year they were all out of contention (with 5.5/10 points) at this point. In round 11 I played black against surprise co-leader Sergei Zhigalko whom I met for the first time since Youth events in 2003! I sacrificed a pawn to activate my pieces in the Ruy Lopez variation, and after a complicated middle game I managed to force mistakes in the rook and queen endgame and win. In round 12 I met Ivanchuk who had been on a rampage winning something like 6 in a row and he outplayed me in the middle game with black. I defended stubbornly, and when he over-pressed slightly in the rook endgame I quickly changed mindset and starting to play for a win. He gradually slipped allowing me to reach a queen and pawn against queen endgame. It is tricky to defend against a c-pawn and he quickly went wrong with queen checks forcing my king to b6. With a 1,5 points lead and 3 rounds to go, I played two quick draws against Dominguez and Kramnik. It was enough to secure 1st with one round to go! After a 75 minutes break It was difficult to focus properly in the last round against Mamedyarov. Having more than equalized with black from the opening I made several inaccuracies, and he put me under serious pressure at some point. Fortunately I managed to defend and draw to stay undefeated with 8 wins, 7 draws and 11,5 points in total. Ian Nepomniachtchi came second with Teimour Radjabov 3rd both a point behind. The Blitz event October 13-14 is my favorite event, and it feels great to enter the battle with the Rapid win in the pocket. We will play 21 rounds in total, and Norwegian Television channels NRK and VGTV will cover the event live. I look forward to an exciting finish to the Berlin championships! Magnus Carlsen, Berlin October 12th, 2015

2015-10-13 02:25:59

Sinquefield Cup 2015 R5

Things have been shaping up for me after the shaky start! I got a small but clear edge from the opening against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and managed to put enough pressure on him to win quite comfortably. Against Anish Giri in round 4 I was doing fine out of the Sicilian Sveshnikov opening. He outplayed me for some time in the middle game and I had to find some accurate moves to keep the balance. He offered a draw in a dead drawn position as soon as the no-draw-before-move-30-rule allowed him to. Wesley So, whom I know from a training camp many years ago, is now playing for the US and he got the organizer wild card for the Sinquefield Cup. Wild card might be a bit misleading as he was offered a regular place in the whole Grand Chess Tour but had to decline due to other obligations. As white I played the Najdorf with Be3 and he played a sideline I didnít know that well. White has compensation for the pawn but after my Bc4 black had his share of the chances. Maybe he played slightly indecisively at some point, and I improved my position gradually with the monstrous knight dominating on d5 more than compensating for the pawn down. Close to the time control I was a bit fortunate to find and play winning moves despite a couple of oversights. We have seen more than 50% decided games and Iíve contributed more than my part with just one draw. Most of the top ten players in the world, of which nearly all are present in St.Louis enjoys a fighting game and the lack of increments before the first time control clearly increases the likelihood of decisive games. The lack of restrictions on our use of time should in theory improve the quality of the games, and I think we all try to manage our time efficiently. Clearly indecision and not correctly foreseeing the remaining complexity until move 40 sometimes cause crazy time scrambles as in my game with Caruana in round 2. Yesterday against Wesley So I was generally doing fine time-wise although a missed opportunity on move 40 brought two more hours of concentrated thinking to bring home the full point. As last year Iíve played football and basketball (twice) with the chess students over at Webster University after the round, and enjoying the rest day today Iím optimistic about the continuation of the tournament. Following our mutual training camp prior to the tournament, Aronian Ė who scored another brilliancy in round 4 against Wesley So - and I, have raised our level significantly compared to Stavanger and share the lead with 4 rounds to go! Magnus Carlsen, St. Louis August 28th, 2015

2015-08-29 01:21:32

Sinquefield Cup 2015 R2

Today it was great fun playing chess. Mostly because of the good fight. Black against Fabiano Caruana - who won the Sinquefield Cup so convincingly last year - is always a challenge. Today I managed to get a reasonable position in an Arkhangelsk Spanish opening transposing to Anti-Marshall. Fabiano played the middle game slowly but well and I was forced to calculate deeply to find countermeasures to keep the balance. Short on time long before the first time control we could both have chosen more drawish continuations. Both desperately wanted to win as I lost to Topalov and Caruana to Aronian in round 1 yesterday. My b4-push kept the position messy while probably objectively dubious. Despite having to blitz out moves Caruana played well nearly all the way to the time control. Then he went from clearly better to about equal and in move 40 blundered away the game by first trying to avoid a perceived mate threat (where the saving combination eluded both of us) and by capturing on d2 on reflex. After the horrible result and play in Stavanger in June (7th place) I hope the training camp with Peter Heine and Levon Aronian - who is playing very well here in the Sinquefield Cup - at the East coast a week ago helps bringing me back to normal form. Iím feeling fine and it is fun playing chess. I canít ask for more really. Sinquefield Cup is part two of the new Grand Chess Tour (following Norway Chess in Stavanger), and Topalov, who won in Stavanger, has taken the lead with 2 points here. Tuesday Iím white against M.Vachier-Lagrave who started with a win against Wesley So and a quick draw against Aronian. Magnus Carlsen, St. Louis August 24th, 2015

2015-08-25 18:32:55

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

2015-04-28 00:04:16

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

2015-04-28 00:03:39

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

2015-04-19 22:58:24

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

2015-04-16 21:50:17

February update

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

2015-03-02 15:35:11

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

2015-02-04 01:14:20

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