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|
|Back to business as usual!|
In Tata Steel Chess 2016 I had the same good old feeling about chess as I had in the 1st quarter of 2015 and the two to three previous years. I felt in control during my games, and (with the exception of the game against Loek van Wely) the computer didnít spring nasty surprises on me after the game. It clearly has helped to play several tournaments in a row. Right now Iím pretty tired but playing again soon would be tempting too. A good sign!
Leading a tournament is always slightly more stressful than trailing (if Iím not trailing too far behind of course). After 10 rounds I had 7 points and was sole leader while Caruana at 6.5 and theoretically the guys at 5.5 could still catch me. For me round 11 against the best female player in the world Hou Yifan became pretty decisive. As black she had held quite comfortably against Caruana with the Russian defense. I allowed her to play the same opening variation as I had some ideas on how to improve whites play. Her position was passive in the early middle game. She could hardly move, but the plan she found of moving the queen from d7 to f8 seemed good. At the critical junctions I probably played slightly inaccurate and she defended well. I had to exchange most pieces without significant progress. The queen endgame is better for white but I could not find a way to make further progress and allowed the exchange of queens with 44.Qc3. She thought for quite some time and did exchange queens followed by h5. Playing 45Ö. a5 instead would have drawn and during the game I was quite surprised by her mistake. When it happened it seemed quite obvious to me that a5 would hold. Well, it turns out that a5 indeed would have held, but not at all as easily as I had thought. White can still push and in many variations the correct defense (and triangulation) black needs to find to stop white from entering either on the queenside or in the middle is very difficult to find. In the game after h5 I could just move my king to b6, play b4, b5 etc. In the end she loses the d-pawn and the game.
With a one-point lead I was satisfied with a short draw as black against Wesley So in round 12 and to enter a slightly better rook and bishop ending against Ding Liren in the last round. Caruana had won round 12 and could still catch me even if I drew, but after he made a mistake in the opening his opponent Tomashevsky played maybe his best game in the event and won quite convincingly. Ding managed to hold the rook against rook and bishop endgame and the draw left me with 9 points in total (+5) and clear first one point ahead of Caruana and Ding. It is my fifth tournament victory in the A-group in Wijk aan Zee and Iím especially satisfied with having won the last three editions Iíve participated in (2013/15/16).
Iíd like to thank Tata Steel management, the organizers and all the volunteers for keeping this great tradition alive and kicking. As last year people from Wijk had gathered on the main square after the last round and they greeted me with speeches and songs before we went to the closing ceremony over at Tata Steel.
Iím still in Wijk aan Zee and today I went for a swim in the inviting but pretty cold sea followed by a simultaneous display in the Dutch parliament in Den Haag!
Tomorrow Iím flying to Los Angeles for an event and a week overseas.
Wijk aan Zee, February 2nd 2016, Magnus Carlsen
|January at the Dutch coast|
You will find my own take on the chess year 2015 on my youtube channel. Overall Iím quite satisfied having recovered well from some unusually poor performances in June in Stavanger and on Iceland in October. Winning five strong classical tournaments with elite participation in a calendar year is a personal best for me and probably quite unusual by any standards.
Prior to Wijk aan Zee I played a blind simul against a dozen people at the annual Arctic event in London. It was both fun and quite difficult. After some adventures I was quite relieved to win all the games.
I looked forward to Tata Steel Chess (and nearly three weeks on the Dutch coast) more than in many years and it feels good to be in the lead with four rounds to go. It is hard to match the sensation of playing here for the first time (in the C-group) back in 2004 as an IM at 13 being able to watch the world elite playing in the same event. Now, at 25 Iím part of this great tradition for the 12th time! As last year I had a slow start here in Wijk, but after four draws Iíve played several exciting games and been victorious in four of them. Early leader Fabiano Caruana is a point behind in second.On the rest day yesterday we walked along the beach over to the pier by the channel leading to Amsterdam in beautiful weather. A sunny and warm day with little wind! Two of the rounds are organized in major Dutch cities, and tomorrow Iíll play Anish Giri with the black pieces in the Utrecht Railway Museum!
Magnus Carlsen, Wijk aan Zee, January 26th, 2015
|Qatar Ė ending 2015 on a high note!|
Qatar Masters Open 2015 has been a great experience. The strong field, the playing hall, the Torch Doha hotel, the atmosphere, summer outside and the organizerís attention to detail made this an extraordinary event. And for me personally winning really helps.
Success brings confidence of course. By nature Iíve always been optimistic prior to tournaments and before individual games. As a youth I played a majority of higher rated players but never felt intimidated. Nonetheless my not so stellar performance in the six months period prior to London Classics did put a dent in my usual confidence, and I needed to stabilize to get back on track. I was close to winning several of the first games in London, but maybe the combination of somewhat lowered confidence and slightly more of a safety first-approach than earlier this year contributed to some missed opportunities.
In Qatar I managed to continue where I left in London (where I won two out of the last three games as well as the tie-break rapid match against M.Vachier-Lagrave). After conceding a draw in the first round I won four in a row including a quite spectacular game against Chao Li (2750). There were more draws at the top boards than last year, and after two draws against Wesley So and Anish Giri I was still joint leader and on board one in the penultimate round. Despite the black pieces I won quickly against Mamedyarov. His attacking plan simply didnít work, but understandably he didnít want to play d5 and enter a slightly worse ending with a miserable few hours ahead. A few accurate defensive moves were sufficient to defuse his attack and a pawn down he went berserk and lost immediately. As white against Kramnik today I decided to play safe. Being half a point behind me, Kramnik needed to win but seemed happy with a quick draw in a topical Ruy Lopez 5.Re1 line.
Last years winner 21 year old Yu Yangyi finished impressively again with two wins including a fighting victory against Wesley So today. In the Blitz tie-break for first, Yu never got going. I won a decent game with white and when he had blundered a piece on move 16 in the second game he simply resigned. 7/9 followed by 2-0 in the tie-breaks, and my first Open tournament in some 8 years ended with victory!
Iíd like to thank Arctic Securities and my other main sponsors for the good and pleasant cooperation in 2015 and wish all of you a successful 2016!
Magnus Carlsen, Doha, December 29th, 2015
|Between London Classics and Qatar Masters Open|
Early in my chess career I sometimes traveled from one tournament to the next without any brake. Not so in recent years. After London a part of me wanted a brake, but most of all Iím eager to play again.
Flying via Doha many times in 2013/14 to other destinations, my first real visit to Doha was for a training camp prior to Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan in April this year. That turned out to be one of my best tournaments ever so going back to Doha for the Qatar Maters Open 2015 brings forth fond memories and pleasant feelings.
Having struggled tremendously in Stavanger and to some extent also in Sinquefield Cup it was a huge relief and highly satisfactory for me to win London Classics and also the Grand Chess Tour last week! As most chess-pundits know by now, things went my way on the last day. Trailing the leaders by half a point I had to win. I outplayed Grischuk in the early middle game but it was hard to make progress. I lost control and we both blundered in the complications that arose. Fortunately he missed his one chance for a clear advantage, and later missed the draw. Instead he went for a perpetual that just wasnít there, leaving him without any more options. He resigned a rook down. As expected both leaders (Anish Giri and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave) drew with black and play-offs followed. Having beaten Nakamura and Grischuk (and not tail-enders Anand and/or Topalov as the others had done), I had the best SB correction giving a bye in the first rapid play-off round. By the time Maxime had returned from the abyss and won against Giri in the armageddon I felt calm and very confident (as opposed to earlier in the day against Grischuk). In game one, Maxime somehow managed to escape from a precarious middle game but failed the last study-like rook-ending test. In the second game he threw light punches at me throughout the game, and all I needed to do was to spend enough time to refute the challenges. When he sought a repetition in a lost ending that was fine with me. 1,5-0,5.
The stay in London was overall very pleasant and the playing conditions at the London Chess Classics very good. The organizer did a good job, although the Grand Chess Tour does need to review regulations and their communication for 2016 as much can and should be improved upon. Three such top-level events with great merits on their own canít afford any lack of professionalism when brought together to bring mutual benefits for all.
I look forward to starting over in Stavanger in April, but first there is Qatar Masters Open 2015! After two days in Oslo we flew directly Oslo-Doha yesterday and has settled in excellent The Torch Doha close to the playing venue here in the Aspire zone. I drew the white pieces in round one and look forward to getting started tomorrow!
Magnus Carlsen, Doha, December 19th, 2015
|Back in London for the Classic|
London Chess Classics has become a Classic and it is great to be back for the 7th edition. When I heard about the plans to stage a top level event in London back in 2009 prior to the 1st edition, I felt that it was such an encouraging step for our sport to be represented in this great city. And of course winning the first two editions and also the 4th contributed to a sense of satisfaction and anticipation knowing that the Classic goes on. The last time I played in London was the highly intense Candidate tournament in the spring of 2013. Due to World Championship matches in November 2013 and November 2014 I have not been playing the 5th and 6th editions.
As you may know the London Chess Classic has partnered up with Norway Chess and Sinquefield Cup (in St.Louis) this year for the Grand Chess Tour. The results in the first two events have left the overall competition wide open, and the winner of London is likely the overall winner as well.
A lot of good work has been done with chess in schools in the UK in parallel with the Classics over the last 6-7 years, and maybe it was a sign of the times that I was invited to a major talkshow earlier tonight (BBC The One Show). After an intro about Fischer-Spasskij I played bullet chess with time handicap with one host while the other host fired questions at me. A good concept in my view. I hope the audience enjoyed it as well.
The pairing for the 9-round main event was done earlier with colors reversed from Sinquefield, and tomorrow Iím black against the Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. We have had many interesting battles including a few this year. I look forward to get started, at 4 pm local time tomorrow. The tournament will be covered live on Norwegian TV and on internet.
Magnus Carlsen, London, December 3rd, 2015
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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