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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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



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

2015-01-28 00:09:49



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

2015-01-23 00:15:30



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

2015-01-15 01:20:59



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

2014-12-31 18:18:42



Sochi Chess World Championship Victory!

Yesterday was a highly emotional day. Surprisingly I remained relatively calm during most of the game even when Anand got some initiative through his well-timed b5-break. But when he sacrificed the exchange on b4, and I subsequently moved my king to the centre (e4), played Nh5 and saw Rd7 that should be winning for me, I was overcome by anxiety. The release of emotions suppressed for weeks was overwhelming. With some time on the clock I managed to calm down and finish the game efficiently to clinch the World Championship title with 6.5 Ė 4.5 ! With the next match coming up in two years, the time has come to reveal all my seconds and helpers for this match. In the last minutes of the round 11 game, Norwegian media interviewed my hardworking seconds located at the Kragero Resort south of Oslo; Jon Ludvig Hammer, Laurent Fressinet and Michael Adams! A special thanks to the three of them and to my main coach Peter Heine Nielsen present in Sochi. Iím very grateful also to Garry Kasparov for valuable advice before and during the match and some really good help from my friends (and former European Champions) Ian Nepomniachtchi and Vladimir Potkin who was having a training camp at the player hotel in preparation for Ianís participation in the Russian Super Final starting later this week. Thinking back one year; In addition to several of the above seconds, Pavel Eljanov contributed significantly before and during the Chennai match. Iíd like to thank all of you very much, and the same goes for the rest of my team consisting of manager Espen, chef Magnus, doctor Brede and my family for the support and help during the two Anand matches. My esteemed opponent former World Champion Viswanathan Anand was excellently prepared and put up at great fight. The match was not decided at all until the end of the 11th round cliffhanger. The Agon organizers deserve praise for a well-organized match and for doing their utmost to make me and my team as comfortable as possible here in Adler, Sochi. Directly, and through Espen and my father, Iíve received so many joyous greetings after the game yesterday and during the celebration last night, from friends, fans, family and representatives of Arctic Securities and my other main sponsors. The prize giving will take place at 6 pm Tuesday and Iíll return to Norway on Wednesday. Magnus Carlsen, Sochi, November 24th, 2014

2014-11-24 20:40:23



Halfway lead in Sochi!

The opponent W. Anand is the same as in Chennai. The match format, regulations and FIDE rules are the same as in Chennai. But each match has a life of itís own, as has been demonstrated in the first six rounds of the Sochi match. This time the players offered energetic fights and exhilarating excitement from day1. Magnus felt slightly uncomfortable in the early middle game against the innocent-looking Bd2 variation in the Grunfeld. The white bishop on h3 paralyzed black, and Magnus had to find several precise defensive moves. Anand let him slip and the slightly better ending for black was nothing but harmless. Magnus achieved a significant edge, but instead of the probably winning Re3 he went for Re2. He had missed Anandís only defence (Qh1), leaving both players fairly satisfied with the outcome of the first game. Game 2 was a treat for the spectators. After achieving a fairly equal but playable position Magnus launched a formidable kingside attack. Anandís defensive moves where not always the best, and in due time Magnus could convert the attack into dominance of the open e-file supported by the white f5-pawn. Anand blundered in a difficult position and Magnus got an early match lead. Anand hit back immediately and impressively after being close to winning out of the opening in game 3. In the next two games, white was pressing. Magnus drifted a bit in game 4 and Anand escaped by finding some only-moves in the queen ending. Magnus was in trouble in game 5 but surprisingly Anand decided to force a draw instead of trying to push to benefit from the destroyed pawn structure of white. Game 6 has already received a lot of publicity due to the mutual blunders. The rest of the game is worth a closer look. Magnus got the opportunity to demonstrate how to exploit the initiative with a nice rook lift to d3 and pressure in the g- and h-files. As warranted by the general game development (outside the blunders), Magnus won his second white game in the match to catch the lead 3.5 - 2.5 at the halfway mark! Calling the hotel, the food and the playing venue in Chennai high class is an understatement. The Radisson Blu Paradise hotel we are staying at in Sochi is also very good. In addition to the usual amenities, the spa and the outdoor sports facilities are splendid. Coupled with close to 20oC in the sun at noon, Magnus and his team are enjoying the days in Sochi! The match is covered extensively in Norwegian media, including live coverage in main channel NRK1 and VGTV, and the coverage is also impressive in many other countries. Towards the end of the match we expect more journalists and visitors from Magnusís main sponsors. Hopefully the basketball session today is a good preparation for the important game 7 tomorrow. Colors are reversed halfway in the match, so that Magnus has the white pieces once again in game 7. For Team Carlsen; H.Carlsen, Sochi, November 16th, 2014

2014-11-16 20:42:03



World Championship Match 2014

When I visited the winter Olympics in February this year, the idea of coming back later this year for the World Championship match did not cross my mind, and certainly not when (non-Russian) Anand won the Candidates. In retrospect it is maybe not such a surprise that Sochi was chosen as the venue considering how the Russians consistently host international events in Sochi. Last month they staged a Formula 1 race, and towards the end of November chess will coincide with World Robot Olympiad. Itís now two months since I signed the contract to play in Sochi at the backend of the Sinquefield Cup 2014. Preparations for the match have progressed as planned. My team and I particularly enjoyed a week of chess, hiking, skiing and team building in the Alps in the middle of October. Back in Norway we had a media day for the two official seconds, Peter Heine Nielsen and Jon Ludvig Hammer, and more training in the posh head offices of Arctic Securities. I arrived in Sochi Tuesday night together with manager Espen, trainer Peter Heine and my father. The chef Magnus was already in place and the docí Brede arrived yesterday to complete the core team. We are staying at the seaside Radisson Blu Paradise hotel in Adler. The climate is nice and we enjoyed a good game of basketball in the sun both yesterday and today. The playing venue is scheduled to be ready tonight for the final inspection. The opening ceremony is Friday November 7th (as last year!) and Game 1 Carlsen-Anand 2014 finally starts on Saturday at 3 pm. Magnus Carlsen, Sochi, November 6th, 2014

2014-11-06 21:02:12



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