Magnus Carlsen – The King of Chess

Childhood and Upbringing

Magnus was born in Tønsberg, Norway on November 30, 1990. During his early years, he moved between Finland and Belgium with his family before returning to Norway in 1998, growing up in the suburban area of Haslum.

From a young age, it was clear that he was a very gifted child with an impressive intellectual ability. At 2 years old, Magnus could solve 50-piece jigsaw puzzles and at 4, he skilfully made constructions out of Lego pieces intended for 10-14-year-olds. By the age of 5, his father (Henrik Carlsen) introduced him to chess, though he showed little interest at the time. Instead, he chose to apply himself to memorizing the areas, population, flags and capital cities of all the countries in the world.

However, at the age of 7, sibling rivalry struck when he saw his older sister and father playing. It was then he started to pick up the pieces to play. In 1999 Magnus played his first chess tournament, the Norwegian Chess Championship.

Magnus started studying under GM Simen Agdestein and over the next 2 years, he would go on to play almost 300 rated tournament games, several blitz tournaments, and various other events.

The Teenage Years

After finishing primary school, Magnus took a year off to travel around Europe playing chess. During this time, Magnus was awarded the International Master title and the Grandmaster title. At the age of 13 years and 4 months, Magnus became the youngest Grandmaster at the time.

Magnus was ranked at the top of the FIDE rating list in January 2010.

His Twenties to Present Day

In 2011, Magnus’ FIDE rating closed in on Kasparov’s historical record of 2851 (year 1999). In 2012, Magnus won the London Chess Championship for the third time. His rating increased from 2848 to 2861 and surpassed Kasparov’s “unbeatable” record.

In 2013 Magnus won the Candidates Tournament and qualified for a World Championship Match vs. Viswhanathan Anand. The match took place in Anand’s hometown, Chennai in November 2013. Magnus became World Champion by beating Anand 6,5 – 3,5.

In May of 2014, Magnus reached a peak rating of 2882. Later the same year he won both the Rapid and the Bitz World Championships. In 2014, Magnus defended his World Champion title and became the first player to simultaneously hold the title in all three FIDE rated time controls (Standard, Rapid and Blitz).

In October 2015, Magnus successfully defended his title in the FIDE World Rapid Championships held in Berlin — the first World Rapid Champion in history to do so. He reached the highest live rapid rating in history after the tournament and was at that point ranked No. 1 in all three disciplines simultaneously. He ended the year finishing joint first in the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the London Chess Classic.

Magnus started 2016 with his fifth win at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament and his first at the Norway Chess Tournament. He later went on to take out the Bilbao Masters Final in July. He finished the year with a win against Sergey Karjakin at the 2016 World Chess Championship in New York.

After a slow start to 2017, Magnus took out the rapid portion of the tournament at the Paris leg of the Grand Chess Tour in June, and won in both rapid and blitz the Leuven leg in July. After placing second at the Sinquefield Cup and fifth at the London Chess Classics, Magnus had accrued enough points to take out the 2017 Grand Chess Tour. He ended the year by winning taking out the title of World Blitz Champion in Riyadh – his third World Blitz Championship victory.

Magnus went into 2018 ranked No. 1 in the FIDE rapid and blitz rating lists, with Elo ratings of 2880 and 2965, respectively. In January, he took out his sixth Tata Steel Chess Tournament victory – a record for the tournament, and the unofficial Fischer Random World Championship in February. After receiving minor placings at the Grenke Chess Classic, Shamkir Chess and Norway Chess, Magnus tied for first at the 6th Sinquefield Cup in St Louis in August. In November, Magnus successfully defended his title against Fabiano Caruana at the 2018 World Chess Championship in London. In December, he also defended his World Blitz Championship title, with an impressive unbeaten result. This was Magnus’ tenth World Title and fourth World Bitz Title.



Model, Ambassador, Celebrity

Through his success in the world of chess, Magnus has become synonymous with the idea of “cool intellect.” In 2004, he gained his first sponsor: Microsoft.

In 2010, Magnus modeled for G-Star Raw’s Autumn/Winter collection with actress Liv Tyler and has since been featured by media all over the world. He has appeared in TV shows such as 60 minutes, The Colbert Show and Charlie Rose, as well as a cameo appearance in The Simpsons.

He was voted by Cosmopolitan magazine as one of the “sexiest men of 2013” and that same year, was also on TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people in the world.

Magnus has also appeared in several ad-campaigns for brands including Omega Watches and Porsche. In 2016 a film documentary about Magnus’ life, MAGNUS, was launched at the Tribeca Film Festival and was sold to 56 countries.

Magnus Carlsen – The Entrepreneur

During 2013, Magnus also set up his own majority-owned company, Play Magnus AS, with the aim of using this as a platform to use chess as a fun tool to make the world a smarter place.

The company’s first product was a slick mobile app allowing users to play a Magnus Carlsen-tuned chess engine at different ages (from ages 5 and up). The chess engine was created using a database of thousands of Carlsen’s recorded games. His company also focuses on partnerships, sponsorships, events and physical products.

The company’s second app, Magnus Trainer, was designed as a training supplement to the Play Magnus app. The app uses fun games and interactive levels to teach chess from beginner level to advanced.

A third app – Magnus’ Kingdom of Chess – was added to the product suite in June 2018. The game, created with the team behind the DragonBox products, introduces chess to kids as young as five, through a fun, adventure-style game.

Magnus Carlsen – The Philanthropist

As Honorary Chairman of America’s Foundation for Chess, Magnus has helped raise over one million dollars to bring chess, and critical thinking skills, to children across the United States.