Magnus Carlsen

“Without the element of enjoyment, it is not worth trying to excel at anything.”

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Magnus Carlsen holding a trophy


(last updated 09.01.2022)

Even from a young age, Magnus Carlsen’s extraordinary talent and ability to become a top player was evident. Since becoming Chess World Champion in 2013 and the highest-rated player in history in 2014, the Norwegian Grandmaster has stayed at the very top in classic, blitz, and rapid chess.

An image og Magnus Carlsen as a child in front of a chess board


Before Magnus Carlsen amazed the world with his prodigious chess talent, he was just a kid lost in deep thoughts.

Early Years

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 just outside Oslo.

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.

Magnus 13 years old.


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.

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. 2012 was spent qualifying for the 2013 WCC.


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.

Magnus Carlsen celebrating his new title as Chess World Champion



Magnus Carlsen takes over the Chess World Champion title, after beating Vishy Anand in a fascinating knight endgame. A new king was crowned. Long live the king.

In May of 2014, Magnus reached a peak rating of 2882. Later the same year he won both the Rapid and the Blitz 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.

Magnus winning 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 at 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 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. was Magnus’ tenth World Title and fourth World Blitz Title.

Magnus winning the 2018 World Chess Championship in London


Magnus started 2019 by winning one of his favorite super tournaments, Wijk aan Zee, for the record-extending seventh time. He developed his success by finishing in first place in Shamkir Chess, Grenke Chess Classic, Côte d'Ivoire Rapid & Blitz, Lindores Abbey Chess Stars Tournament, Norway Chess, and Grand Chess Tour in Zagreb, resulting in a phenomenal streak of eight consecutive tournament victories. This streak skyrocketed his rating to 2882, equaling his peak set in 2014, the all-time chess record. After a few somewhat less remarkable performances, Magnus won Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz, the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour. In the first official FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship, he became the runner-up, getting crushed by Wesley So, 13.5-2.5. Magnus stormed through the World Rapid Chess Championship in December, clinching gold undefeated. After prevailing in the World Blitz Chess Championship as well, Carlsen simultaneously held all the three main chess crowns (classical, rapid, blitz), increasing his total count of World Champion titles to 12.

The year 2020 turned out to be relatively uneventful due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic. To compensate for the lack of offline events, Magnus and Chess24 organized the Magnus Carlsen Invitational – an online super tournament with an impressive $250k prize fund. Magnus ended up winning it. In October, Carlsen collected another tournament victory at Norway Chess, setting an unprecedented world record of 125 games without defeat. The period in question spanned 2 years, 2 months, and 10 days. Moreover, most of the games took place in elite events, including the World Chess Championship.

In 2021, Magnus won three out of nine stages of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and then the Final. This series of online tournaments had a prize fund of $1,500,000 – a figure previously unheard of for online chess. In the World Cup, Magnus succumbed to the eventual winner, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, earning the bronze medal. He came out on top in the Norway Chess round-robin in September. The year's pinnacle for him was whitewashing Ian Nepomniachtchi 7.5-3.5 in the World Chess Championship match. This feat brought Carlsen the fifth ultimate chess title, while his total count of World Champion titles reached 13.

5 time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen