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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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

Sinquefield Cup 2014 Half way

In the first half we saw 10 decisive games out of the 15 exciting games, and Caruana cruising through the field with a highly impressive 5/5. In round one as black against Vachier-Lagrave I accepted his invitation to play a sharp line. Unfortunately he seemed better prepared, but I managed to find the right continuation. The ensuing battle was tense and sharp all through the game. He found a perpetual at the end. If felt great to play in St.Louis once again! I was black again against Nakamura in round two, where I went for an unusual sideline. My opponent chose the safe rather than risky continuation both in the opening and in the middle game. I allowed the awkward looking pawn structure in the centre with my pawns on d4 and d6, with just enough time to create a king side attack before he could round up my d4-pawn. He wisely allowed a perpetual, and in lack of any better alternative for me, we drew well before the time control. Caruana won against Vachier-Lagrave with a novelty in a sharp Caro-kann and Aronianís bishops came alive to finish off Topalov after the latter won an exchange out of the opening. With white against Caruana I made several mistakes in the opening, and by the time I understood I was worse I was already in trouble. When he allowed the interesting bishop sacrifice on f7 I felt the game could go either way. Despite the ensuing complications, he played the rest of the game very accurately. Having missed his great Nd3 resource I ended up a pawn down without much hope of salvation, when I even blundered horribly just before the time control losing immediately. In round 4 with white against Topalov I had a strong initiative in the middle game with ample compensation for the sacrificed pawn. My e4-plan was dubious as he could sacrifice back a pawn to reach an equal ending. I seemingly tried very hard to lose the game, over-pressing well beyond being in control. If he had seen Rc5 I would have had to find some really accurate defensive moves to save the draw. He didnít, and we swapped all pieces and drew with kings and one knight left each. Despite playing below par in round 3 and 4, it didnít feel as if I was doing as bad overall as the meager 1.5/4 would indicate, and it felt great to win with black in round 5 against Aronian. A fairly decent game by me, but winning with black usually requires some assistance from your opponent as well. A pawn down he seemed to be defending. His Nb3 was a mistake, and maybe the 5 against 4 pawn-ending can be held for white but it is pretty difficult. Instead of pushing g6 he could have chosen the 3 versus 2 pawn ending where I would have had a passed pawn in the e-file. That might also be a theoretical draw, but in practice it is very difficult to defend. Finally I got my first victory in this event, and Topalov and I are an ocean of points (2.5) behind Caruana with 5 rounds to go. On the rest day today we played golf at the excellent 1904 Olympic course at Glen Echo, and later there was The Burning Boards event at the World Chess Hall of Fame in the evening. Tuesday at 2 pm local time Iím white against Vachier-Lagrave. Magnus Carlsen, St.Louis, September 1st, 2014

2014-09-02 07:17:31

Sinquefield Cup 2014 in St. Louis

It was not only about chess. Iíve looked forward to coming back to St. Louis and the Sinquefield Cup for some time, having had lots of good experiences during the visit last year. The people, excursions, sport activities, restaurants, the nearby park and even some sightseeing are fond memories. And it was no drawback that I won and gained confidence prior to the Chennai match. The hospitable Sinquefields hosted a nice dinner yesterday and today we had signing and photo sessions, done interviews and of course the opening ceremony with the drawing of lots. For once Iíll start with two black games against M. Vachier-Lagrave and H.Nakamura. The rest of the historically high-rating-field averaging above 2800 consists of L.Aronian, F.Caruana, V.Topalov and me. The chess Olympics in Tromso wasnít a great success for the Norwegian top team as lost a critical match against Croatia in the penultimate round. Until then we had had many good results merged with the occasional disappointing result. In the last round my teammates won 4-0 as expected, and it was enough for 29th place. In the past, being the best Scandinavian country was an ambitious goal. This time this achievement did not feel as much of a consolation. Iíd like to congratulate the Open group winners China, and the silver and bronze medalists from Hungary and India with their impressive results. Especially when considering that none of them were rated top three in advance and both China and India played without several of their highest rated players. Hopefully the Olympics and the broad Norwegian media coverage contributed further to an (even) broader national chess interest. The Sinquefield Cup will be covered live on TV2 starting tomorrow at 2 pm local time in St.Louis. Magnus Carlsen, St.Louis, August 26th, 2014

2014-08-27 04:58:23

Tromsoe Chess Olympiad update

I started with a decent win against Caruana after the rest day. Since then my play has been unusually erratic. Spoiling a much better position against Najditsch and even losing in the end was pretty tough, especially as we lost the match against Germany 2.5-1.5. I wasnít happy with my play yesterday against Borki Predojevic either, but it was enough to win. Today we faced Turkey and in the NRK live studio after the game one of the reporters questioned my inspiration. The problem today was rather too much inspiration. In a topical Slav set-up I went for a g4-g5 plan, while missing the strength of Solakís counterplay a pawn down. Without a safe haven for my king I chose to castle long. He maintained a strong initiative but seemed to panic in time trouble, and after his a3-check I was finally calling the shots and managed to win the tricky ending. With two draws and a loss on the other boards we drew against Turkey and needs to win tomorrow against Croatia in the penultimate round. Norway2 came close to another sensation today but lost 2.5-1.5 against Russia in the end. I look forward to the rest day after tomorrow! Magnus Carlsen, Tromsoe, August 11th, 2014 "

2014-08-12 01:04:01

Tromsoe Chess Olympiad 2014 R5-6

The favourites start to float to the top in the Open section with Azerbaijan and Cuba at 11 match points ahead of Russia, China, Armenia ++ at 10. After nice summer weather early in the Olympiad, weíve had a few days of tropic rain hopefully making travellers from afar feel at home. Unfortunately, a heavy rainfall on the rest day yesterday coincided with our daily football session. Fortunately, I avoided catching a cold, and the football session might even have helped me stay focused during the game today. In my second black in a row against a 2800 player, Caruana this time, I was slightly worse out of the opening, without any real compensation for his bishop pair. The flip side was that the unusual Scandinavian variation brought us out of known territory and he spent much time in the early middle game. At one point I had to calculate precisely to avoid real problems, but when he played e4 I was starting to get ambitious. I did not like his Nd6 plan. (Well I guess I liked facing it, but it wasnít the best plan available for white.) Later he could have entered a drawish position by returning to e4 with his knight in time, but after c5 his position quickly deteriorated, and I followed in the footsteps of my compatriots Lie (18-move victory) and Hammer to secure a solid and strong Norwegian 3-1 victory against Italy to reach 9 match points. This was just what we needed after the 2.5-1.5 loss to Armenia in round 5 (where Agdestein lost a difficult ending, and the rest of us drew.) The Norwegian top female team outclassed the strong Venezuelan team 4-0, and things look quite promising for the home teams with 5 rounds to go. Tomorrow we face Germany. Just now hurtigruten (MS Trollfjord) docked 50 meters from my balcony at Rica Ishavshotel. Got to go! Magnus Carlsen, Tromsoe, August 8th, 2014

2014-08-09 01:24:02

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