Magnus Carlsen is the 16th undisputed World Champion. He won the crown from Viswanathan Anand in November 2013 and successfully defended it in a return contest with the former title holder a year later in November 2014.
FM (2002); IM (2003); GM (2004); vice-World U12 World Champion (2002); Norwegian Champion (2006); Candidate (2007 & 2013); World Champion (2013 & 2014); World Rapid Champion (2014) and World Blitz Champion (2009 & 2014).
Carlsen has been the world's top ranked player since January 2010, apart from six months between November 2010 and June 2011 when he was #2, and possesses the highest standard FIDE rating ever posted, as well as the highest ever live rating.
He was born in Tønsberg, Vestfold. His parents are Sigrun Øen and Henrik Carlsen, both of whom are engineers. His father taught him chess at the age of eight after which he soon played his first tournament, a junior (Miniputt) Norwegian championship. He was coached by seven-time Norwegian Champion Simen Agdestein and by Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen.
He won the title of International Master in 2003 at the age of 12 years 7 months and 25 days. In 2004, after having gained over 300 rating points in little over a year, he became the second-youngest grandmaster in chess history at the time, behind only Sergey Karjakin, at the age of 13 years 4 months and 27 days. Parimarjan Negi later pipped his record by five days to become the second youngest grandmaster ever.
<Age>: Carlsen won the Norwegian U11 Championship in 2000 and the U10 Nordic Championship in 2001. In 2002, he placed =1st in the Open Norwegian Junior Championship with 5.5/7, but easily won the same event the following year with 6/6. Carlsen started with 4/4 at the 2002 U12 European Championship but faded to finish sixth. In the 2002 U12 World Championship a few weeks later, Carlsen was sole leader coming into the last round, but was held to a draw by David Howell, enabling Ian Nepomniachtchi to equal his score and to win on tiebreak. He placed =3rd at the 2003 U14 European Championship, half a point behind Sergei Zhigalko and Tornike Sanikidze, a short time later placing =9th with 7.5/11 at the World U14 Championship in Halkidiki.
<National and Continental>: A couple of weeks after being eliminated from the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004) (see below), he placed =1st in the 2004 Norwegian Championship. However, after a two-game play-off match with co-leader and until then, six-time Norwegian champion, Berge Ostenstad was drawn, Østenstad was declared winner on tiebreak. In the 2005 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen again finished in a shared first place, this time with his mentor Simen Agdestein. A rapid game playoff between them resulted in Agdestein’s victory by 3.5-2.5 (+2 -1 =3). Carlsen finally won the Norwegian Championship in 2006, after defeating Simen Agdestein in a tie-break match.
Carlsen’s first and and so far only participation in the continental championship provided a solid 22-point boost to his rating when he scored 8/13 in the 6th European Individual Championship (2005).
<World>: Carlsen qualified for the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004), but was eliminated in the first round tiebreaker by Levon Aronian. His hopes to become a contender for the World Championship in the future took a big step forward by placing tenth at the FIDE World Cup (2005), becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for the Candidates. In his first Candidates match in Elista in May, he drew 3-3 in the six slow games of the Candidates Match: Aronian - Carlsen (2007) before losing in rapid-play tie-breaks. He reached the final four in the World Chess Cup (2007) before being defeated in the semi-finals by the eventual winner, Gata Kamsky. Carlsen's final placing in the 2007 World Cup qualified him for participation in the FIDE Grand Prix for 2008-09. Soon afterwards he tied for first place in the Baku Grand Prix (2008), the first round of FIDE's inaugural Grand Prix series. Carlsen later withdrew from the Grand Prix cycle despite his excellent result in Baku, complaining about "dramatic changes to ... regulations." and that “…changing the rules dramatically in the middle of a cycle is simply unacceptable.”
On the basis of his rating, Carlsen qualified for the Candidates Tournament that would determine the challenger to World Champion Viswanathan Anand in 2012. In November 2010, however, Carlsen announced he was withdrawing from the Candidates tournament. Carlsen described the 2008–12 cycle as not "...sufficiently modern and fair", and added that "Reigning champion privileges, the long (five year) span of the cycle, changes made during the cycle resulting in a new format (Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go through since Kasparov, puzzling ranking criteria as well as the shallow ceaseless match-after-match concept are all less than satisfactory in my opinion." Carlsen qualified for the World Championship Candidates (2013) that was played in London, again on the basis of his rating. He placed =1st with Vladimir Kramnik on 8.5/14 after both players lost their last round games, but as the first tiebreaker (score against each other in the tournament which was 1-1) failed to break the tie, he won on the second tiebreak which stipulated that the player with the greater number of wins takes first place; he had scored five wins to Kramnik's four. During the tournament, Carlsen set a new live rating record of 2878.9 after he defeated Gelfand in round 10.
In November 2013, Carlsen won the Anand - Carlsen World Championship (2013) that was staged in Chennai. The first four games were drawn before Carlsen won the fifth and sixth games. The seventh and eighth games were drawn, with Carlsen then winning the ninth game and drawing the tenth and last game to win by 6.5-3.5 (+3 =7).
World Championship Defence 2014
Carlsen defended his World Championship title against Anand - who won the right to challenge for the title by winning the World Chess Championship Candidates (2014) that was held in March 2014 - in Sochi in Russia in November 2014.
The first game of the Carlsen - Anand World Championship (2014) was a fighting draw with Carlsen playing Black and successfully defending a Grunfeld. He drew first blood in game two playing the White side of a quiet Ruy Lopez, breaking down Black's defences before the first time control. After the first rest day, Anand struck back strongly playing the White side of a Queen's Gambit Declined (D37), and overcame Carlsen before the first time control. In game 4, Anand played the Sicilian but Carlsen steered the opening into a quiet positional struggle that ended in a draw. Game 5 featured a Queen's Indian Defence by Carlsen which also ended in a draw. Game 6 may have been the turning point in the match. Anand missed a simple tactical stroke as Black that would have given him a very strong, if not winning position and the lead in the match. After missing this continuation, Anand's game weakened and Carlsen brought home the point to take the lead in the match for the second time.
Game 7 was another Berlin Defence by Anand who encountered difficulties and surrendered a piece for two pawns. However, his defence kept Carlsen at bay for 122 moves before the game was finally drawn due to insufficient mating material on the board. Game 8 in the match was another QGD, with Carlsen playing Black introducing an innovation from his home preparation that guaranteed him a relatively easy draw. After another rest day, play resumed with Carlsen playing the White side of a Ruy Lopez that turned into a Berlin Defence by Anand. The game quickly came to an end through a draw by repetition, with Carlsen content to maintain his one-point lead. In Game 10, Carlsen again defended a Grunfeld, albeit not as convincingly as in Game 1. However, he defended a long initiative by Anand to secure a drew to continue to maintain his one point lead. Game 11 was another Berlin Defence by Anand which turned into a complex and hard fought middle game following an innovation by Anand on the queenside, which was followed by an exchange sacrifice. Carlsen successfully defended to bring home the final point needed to secure his title for another two years.
Match result: Carlsen won by 6.5-4.5 (+3 -1 =7).
Next World Championship defence
Carlsen's next defence of his classical world title will be in 2016, date and venue to be decided.
Carlsen earned his first IM norm in January 2003 at the Gausdal Troll Masters when he scored 7/10. His second IM norm came in June 2003 at the Salongernas IM-tournament in Stockholm where he scored 6/9 and his third IM norm came in the following month at the 2003 Politiken Cup in Copenhagen where he scored 8/11. In early 2004, Carlsen made a major international impact when he won Corus C with 10.5/13, easily winning his first grandmaster norm and earning his entry to the Corus B in 2005. Carlsen obtained his second grandmaster norm in the 3rd Aeroflot Festival (2004) in February and his third grandmaster norm at the sixth 6th Dubai Open (2004), held between 18th and 28th April.
Soon afterwards he placed 3rd at the 12th Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament (2004) followed later that month with a solid =3rd place at the Politiken Cup 2004, a half point behind the leaders Darmen Sadvakasov and compatriot Leif Erlend Johannessen. In October 2005, he won the Gausdal Bygger'n Masters in Norway with 8/9 ahead of 9 other grandmasters.
He continued to improve in 2006, tying Alexander Motylev for first place in Corus Group B (2006). After several more strong performances during the year, including 6.5/9 at the XXII Reykjavik Open (2006), =2nd at Bosna Sarajevo Tournament (2006), =2nd behind Sergei Shipov at the Midnight Sun Challenge at Breivika videregaende skole in Norway, =2nd at Biel Int'l Festival (2006) (after beating the winner Alexander Morozevich twice), first at the Gausdal Classics GM-A and a joint second-place finish at Linares - Morelia (2007), he crossed the 2700-mark, the youngest player ever to do so. A relatively poor result at Dortmund (2007) (3/7) was followed by a win at Biel Chess Festival (2007) (His score was equaled by Alexander Onischuk and so they played a tie-breaker match to determine the winner. After drawing two rapid and two blitz games, Carlsen won the Armageddon game) and a par for rating =2nd at the Arctic Chess Challenge (2007) where he scored 7/9, a half point behind the leader Alexander Moiseenko, and 3rd at the Tal Memorial (2007) in November 2007.
In 2008 Carlsen was the joint winner of Corus (2008) A-Group together with Levon Aronian, and placed second in Morelia-Linares (2008) behind Anand. He won clear first place at Aerosvit (2008) with a dominant 8/11 score. His "disappointing" third placement at 41st Biel International Chess Festival (2008) with 6/10, a half point behind joint winners Leinier Dominguez Perez and Evgeny Alekseev, was nevertheless still a 2740 performance, whilst his equal second in the Bilbao Grand Slam Chess Final (2008) with 5.0/10 was a 2768 performance. His relatively meagre 7/13 at Corus (2009) was followed by equal second placement behind Kramnik at Dortmund (2009) with a 2773 performance and 2nd with 5/9 at the M-Tel Masters (2009).
The arrival of Garry Kasparov in 2009 as his coach enabled Carlsen's finest tournament performance to date, and one of the best tournament results in the history of chess. Carlsen eclipsed a stellar field consisting of Topalov, Peter Leko, Dmitry Jakovenko, Teimour Radjabov and Wang Yue to win clear first prize with 8/10 at the category XXI Pearl Spring Chess Tournament (2009). Carlsen's performance rating for the tournament was a record 3002 and lifted his FIDE rating in the November 2009 list to 2801, which made him only the fifth player to surpass 2800, and easily the youngest. After a slow start, Carlsen placed equal second with Vassily Ivanchuk behind Vladimir Kramnik in the Category XXI Tal Memorial (2009), which fielded ten of the world's top thirteen rated players. He saw out 2009 with a win at the London Chess Classic (2009), a point ahead of Kramnik, a result which pushed him to the top of the world ratings in January 2010.
In 2010, Carlsen's success continued, winning Corus (2010) outright with 8.5/13, half a point ahead of joint second place finishers Kramnik and Alexey Shirov. In June, he won the category XXI King's Tournament (2010) in Bazna in Romania by a clear two points with 7.5/10 and a 2918 performance. Following mediocre performances at the 2010 Olympiad and the category XXII Bilbao Masters (2010), Carlsen returned to form by winning the category XXI Nanjing Pearl Spring Tournament (2010) outright with 7/10 (+4 -0 =6) and a 2901 rating performance, a full point ahead of World Champion Anand who took outright second with 6/10, and finishing the year by winning the London Chess Classic (2010) for the second time in succession. After a slow start in the Tata Steel (2011) super tournament, Carlsen finished =3rd with Levon Aronian behind Hikaru Nakamura and Anand with 8/13 and a performance rating of 2821. He followed up in June by winning the Bazna King's Tournament (2011) on tiebreak ahead of Karjakin, both finishing with 6.5/10, and by winning Biel Chess Festival (2011) in July with a round to spare and with a final score of 7/10 (TPR 2835). After another characteristically slow start, Carlsen placed =1st with Ivanchuk at the 4th Bilbao Masters (2011) with 15 points under the Bilbao scoring system (+3 -1 =6) and a 2842 performance rating, ultimately winning the tournament in a blitz tiebreaker. Then in November 2011, Carlsen won the Tal Memorial (2011) on tiebreak with 5.5/9 (+2 =7 -0 and a TPR of 2850) over Aronian. Carlsen finished 2011 with 3rd place at the category 20 London Chess Classic (2011) behind Kramnik and Nakamura, scoring +3 =5 (TPR of 2879).
2012 started with =2nd (+4 -1 =8; TPR 2830) behind Aronian and alongside Radjabov and Fabiano Caruana at the Category 21 Tata Steel (2012). He won the category 22 Tal Memorial (2012) outright with 5.5/9 (+2 =7) and a TPR of 2849. The month after his strong results in the World Blitz he finished outright second behind Wang Hao in the Grandmaster Tournament of the Biel Chess Festival (2012). In October 2012, Carlsen repeated his 2011 feat at Bilbao by winning the Bilbao Masters (2012) in a tiebreaker, this time against Caruana. He finished up 2012 by winning the London Chess Classic (2012), the third time he has done so, with a score of 6.5/8 (+5 =3 -0) and a TPR of 2994 (only fractionally below his record effort at Pearl Springs in 2009). London 2012 was also made historic for the fact that Carlsen's result lifted his January 2013 rating to a new record, exceeding Kasparov's record 2851 by 10 points.
Building on his achievements of 2012, Carlsen won the category 20 Tata Steel (2013) tournament with a round to spare, his final score being 10/13. He also set a new live rating record of 2874 after his round 12 win over Nakamura, although this was superseded at the Candidates in March. In May 2013 he played in the category 21 Norway Chess Tournament (2013) held in the Stavanger Region of Norway and came 2nd with 5.5/9, half a point behind the winner Sergey Karjakin; in the preliminary Norway Chess Tournament (Blitz) (2013) held to determine the draw, he came 2nd with 6/9 behind Karjakin, thereby earning 5 games as White out of the 9 to be played. In June he again came outright 2nd, this time at the category 22 Tal Memorial (2013), half a point behind the winner Boris Gelfand. His last hit out before the World Championship match against Anand in November 2013 was the category 22 double round robin Sinquefield Cup (2013), which he won outright with 4.5/6 (+3 =3; TPR of 2966).
Carlsen's first tournament as World Champion was the Zurich Chess Challenge (2014), the first ever category 23 tournament (average rating 2801). He came from behind to take equal first with Aronian in the Zurich Chess Challenge (Blitz) (2014), which determined the colors in the main event (Carlsen has 4 whites and 1 black). By round 4 of the standard time event, he extended his live rating to 2882.6, breaking the record he established in round 3. His round 5 draw with Anand enabled him to finish the standard time event in first place, 2 scoring points ahead of Aronian. He needed 3.5/5 in the Zurich Chess Challenge (Rapid) (2014) played on the final day to guarantee his win in the event, however his 2/5 result was sufficient to win the combined event by one point under the scoring system used. His next event was the category 22 Gashimov Memorial (2014), a new event in honor of the late Azeri GM Vugar Gashimov, which he won outright with a score of 6.5/10, defeating Fabiano Caruana, his rival for first prize, in the last round. Although he was the only undefeated player at the Norway Chess Tournament (2014), he won insufficient games to win the event, which was successfully defended by last year's winner, Sergei Karjakin. In August 2014, he played in the category 23 (only the second such strength event) Sinquefield Cup (2014) and came outright second with 5.5/10, 3 points behind Caruana, the runaway leader of the tournament.
Following his successful defence of his title against Anand in November 2014, Carlsen won the Tata Steel (2015) outright with a score of 9/13 (+6 -1 =6), his six wins scored in succession after starting the event poorly with two draws and a loss. In April 2015, Carlsen won the category 21 Gashimov Memorial (2015) outright for the second year in succession with a powerful score of 7/9 (+5 =4), a full point clear of a resurgent Viswanathan Anand, who was outright runner up with 6/9. This high was followed by a low at the category 22 Norway Chess (2015) in Stavanger in June 2015, when he crashed and burned to his worst tournament result in almost a decade. After losing his first round game on time to Topalov in a won position, Carlsen never recovered and registered a 3.5/9 (+2-4=3) result that slashed 23 points from his rating. A slow start in the category 22 Sinquefield Cup (2015) following an early loss to Topalov, was followed by three successive wins which enabled Carlsen to draw level with the leader by round 5, before the rest day. However, a crucial loss to Grischuk from an advantageous position and missed opportunities to win against Nakamura relegated him to equal second in the event, a point behind the outright winner Levon Aronian. This result also caused him to shed a few ratings points.
Carlsen won the Glitnir Blitz Tournament in 2006 in Iceland. In September 2006 Carlsen placed 8th out of 16 participants at the World Blitz Championship (2006) in Rishon LeZion, Israel. In the blitz tournament associated with the Tal Memorial 2006, namely the Tal Blitz Cup, Carlsen scored 17½/34 points and placed 9th in a group of 18 participants. 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 of the 16th Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2007), he achieved eight draws and three losses (placing =9th) then scored three wins, seven draws and one loss in the 16th Amber Tournament (Rapid) (2007) (=2nd), for an overall 8th place in the combined tournament. 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. Carlsen achieved four wins, four draws and two losses in the Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2008), and three wins, two losses, and six draws in the Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2008), resulting in a shared second place in the overall tournament.
In the Chess Classic Mainz (2008), Carlsen finished in second place after losing the final to defending champion Anand 3:1 (two losses, two draws). 2009 saw Carlsen score equal first in the Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2009) with 7/11 alongside Kramnik and Aronian, and equal second with Veselin Topalov at M-Tel Masters (2009) behind Shirov with a 2822 performance. He also won the XXII Magistral Ciudad de Leon (2009), a rapid knockout tournament, ahead of Morozevich, Ivanchuk, and Wang Yue. Just a few days after his 2nd placement at the Tal Memorial (2009), he won the World Blitz Championship (2009) with 31/42, a full three points ahead of runner-up Anand. He shared first place at the 2010 Amber Rapid and Blindfold Tournament with Ivanchuk; scoring 6½ points in the blindfold and 8 points in the rapid, Carlsen accumulated 14½ from a possible 22 points. After a slow start in the Arctic Securities Chess Stars (2010) rapid tournament, he continued his success by defeating Anand in the two-game playoff for gold. In the World Blitz Championship (2010), held in Moscow on 16–18 November, Carlsen attempted to defend his 2009 title. With a score of 23½/38, he finished in third place behind Radjabov and the winner Aronian. After the tournament, Carlsen played a private 40-game blitz match against Hikaru Nakamura, winning with a score of 23½–16½. A phenomenal 9.5/11, 2.5 points clear of the field, in 20th Amber Tournament (Rapid) (2011) was insufficient for him to win the overall contest, as his results in the 20th Amber Tournament (Blindfold) (2011) were poor, resulting in a 2nd overall to 2008 and 2009 overall winner Aronian. In July 2012 he came clear 2nd in the World Rapid Championship (2012) behind Karjakin with 10.5/15, and clear 2nd in the World Blitz Championship (2012) with 19.5/30, half a point behind Alexander Grischuk.
In June 2014, he realized his ambition to be the triple champion (of standard, rapid and blitz chess) when he won the FIDE World Rapid Championship (2014) with 11/15, half a point ahead of runner-up Caruana, and the FIDE World Blitz Championship (2014) with 17/21, one point clear of Nepomniachtchi and Nakamura.
The DSB Bank match between Loek van Wely and Magnus Carlsen took place 28th April - 1st May 2006. The four game classical time limit match was tied 2-2. Carlsen won the blitz portion of the match 3.5-0.5. He won a rapid match against Peter Leko held in Miskolc, Hungary, scoring 5:3 (+2 =6). Carlsen played in a curtain raiser to the Norwegian Championship, winning the Carlsen - Predojevic Rapid Match (2013) by 2.5-1.5 (+1 =3); the match was organized by the "Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue" to celebrate the long-standing relationship between Lillehammer and Sarajevo. (1)
<Olympiad>: Carlsen represented Norway on board 1 in the 36th Olympiad (2004), the 37th Chess Olympiad (2006), the Olympiad (2008), the Chess Olympiad (2010) and in the Chess Olympiad (2014). His best result was in the 2006 Olympiad, where he scored 6 points from 8 games and came 5th for board 1.
<National> He played board 1 for Norway at the European Team Chess Championships (2007) and won an individual silver medal.
<Club> Carlsen played four seasons in the European Club Cup. In 2001 and 2003 he played for Asker Norway on board 6 and board 1 (after he had gained his FM title) respectively, while his father Henrik was reserve on both occasions. In 2007 he played board 3 for OS Baden Baden, and in 2008 he played top board for MIKA Yerevan. His total game result from these 4 seasons was 15.5/27 (+11 -7 =9). He also played in the Norwegian Team Championship in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006, in the Bundesliga in the 2004-05, 2006-07, 2007/08, 2008-09 seasons, and in the Dutch Team Championship 2007.
<Other Team> In August 2006, he played in the NH Hotels event featuring the older Experience Team vs Youth team (easily won by the Youth team 28–22), and was equal top scorer with Alexander Beliavsky with 6.5/10.
The highest official rating achieved by Carlsen to date was 2882 in May 2014. His highest live rating was 2889.2 on 21 April 2014.
Carlsen's 1 October 2015 FIDE ratings are:
<Standard>: 2850, making him the top ranked player in the world. By the end of the October 2015 rating period, he will have been world number one for a total of 63 months. He holds the record for the longest period as the world's top ranked Junior (U20) - 36 months - from 1 January 2008 until 31 December 2010. He was also both world number one junior and world number one player for the first 10 months of 2010. Furthermore, he holds the record for the highest rating acquired by any player aged 13, and 17 through to 24 inclusive.
<Rapid>: 2847 (world #2); and
<Blitz>: 2914 (world #1).
Carlsen won the Chess Oscars for 2009, 2010, and 2011, and he was also awarded Norway's annual Peer Gynt Prize for 2011 for being "a person or institution that has achieved distinction in society". (2) After he won the World Championship he was awarded Norway's "Name of the Year" award for 2013. (3) He has two sisters, Ellen Oen Carlsen and Ingrid Oen Carlsen. Carlsen helped Anand prepare for the World Chess Championships in 2007 and 2008 and 2010.
Carlsen has modeled for G-Star Raw, starting with its Autumn/Winter 2010 advertising campaign.
At the Sohn Conference held in New York in May 2015, Carlsen demonstrated his skill by playing three players in a blindfold clock simul. Carlsen and each of the three players were given nine minutes. Carlsen won 3-0. A video of the event can be seen at the link in footnote (4).
Carlsen's FIDE player card; Wikipedia article: Magnus Carlsen; live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; official website: http://www.magnuscarlsen.com/; blogs: http://www.arcticsec.no/index.php?b... (English language); http://simonsenlaw.no/ (Norwegian language); World Championship Index: http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/wcc...; and Olimpbase, the Encyclopedia of Team Chess: http://www.olimpbase.org/
(1) http://www.peace.no/index.php?optio...; (2) http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/03...; (3) http://www.nrk.no/sport/videoklipp/...; (4) http://en.chessbase.com/post/carlse...
Latest updated 4 October 2015