Carlsen's Conquests – at 22 he has broken all records

2/13/2013 – In light of his merciless treatment of the field, it seems worth paying yet another visit to Carlsen's recent performance in Wijk aan Zee. He has won the event three times, this year with a 1.5-point margin – only achieved before by Short (in 1986) and once by Kasparov (in 2000). His general achievements are "monstrous", according to Michael von Keitz, who has tracked them in table form.

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Carlsen's Conquests

By Michael von Keitz


Record winners in Wijk aan Zee: Max Euwe (four times), Lajos Portisch (four), Viswanathan Anand (five)

Started in 1938, in its early days, Wijk aan Zee played host to the Netherlands' favourite son, Max Euwe. No slouch, he managed to take the title an impressive four times. History, however, had another dominant force in mind for the all-time record. This came in 2006 when, in a tie with Topalov, Anand clinched his fifth title. In comparison, Carlsen has now taken the title thrice: once in 2008, again in 2010, and, most recently, in 2013.

1940 - Max Euwe
1942 - Max Euwe
1952 - Max Euwe
1958 - Max Euwe (+ Donner)
1965 - Lajos Portisch (+ Geller)   
1972 - Lajos Portisch
1975 - Lajos Portisch
1978 - Lajos Portisch

1989 - Viswanathan Anand (+ Nikolic, Ribli, Sax)
1998 - Viswanathan Anand (+ Kramnik)
2003 - Viswanathan Anand
2004 - Viswanathan Anand
2006 - Viswanathan Anand (+ Topalov)
2008 - Magnus Carlsen (+ Aronian)
2010 - Magnus Carlsen
2013 - Magnus Carlsen

Leading up to this year's edition, the largest margin of victory in recent memory had been a full point, as achieved by Aronian in 2012 en route to a 9/13 score. A nice 2891 performance rating accompanied the result, the best-ever in this event up to that point.

Carlsen's +7, however, has now earned him a noticeably better performance of 2930 and, equally important, a 1.5-point margin. In fact, under the modern 13-round model, the record margin of victory is 1.5 points, achieved twice before: once by Short in 1986 (9.5/13) and once by Kasparov in 2000 (9.5/13). Carlsen was well-placed to eclipse this mark, but Giri had other plans, leaving the Norwegian with nothing more than a share of this particular record. Other players over the years that have secured the same margin, over greater or fewer rounds, include: Taimanov (12/15 in 1970), Portisch (10.5/15 in 1972), Browne (11/15 in 1974) and Nikolic (7/9 in 1994).

Although he only managed to edge Anand by a half a point in doing so, as opposed to the 1.5 margin of the year following, Kasparov also has the highest score ever achieved under this format (10/13 in 1999), now joined by Carlsen, who, again, perhaps seemed poised for something greater. The main difference between these two outings, though, lies in the fact that Carlsen managed to remain unbeaten, while Kasparov did not.

The takeaway message seems to be that Carlsen, at the tender age of 22, may have just logged the best showing Wijk aan Zee has ever seen: an undefeated +7, with the highest performance rating, margin of victory (tied) and total points (tied) ever witnessed at this event under the 14-player RR format. To top it all off, with years of play ahead of him, he is already only two tournament victories away from the all-time record for this event. Shudder-inducing, to be sure.

These event-specific accolades, of course, are great, but Carlsen also rose to the challenge of leveling a few lifetime scores, which are included amongst the following (reflected as Carlsen's record against [post-event], under standard time controls, followed by the result of their encounter in this event):

Opponent
wins
draws
losses
  Carlsen's result in Wijk 2013
Levon Aronian
8
21
4
  draw
Fabiano Caruana
2
5
1
  draw
Sergey Karjakin
2
10
1
  win (broke tied lifetime score)
Vishy Anand
2
19
6
  draw
Hikaru Nakamura
6
14
0
  win
Wang Hao
3
1
1
  draw
Peter Leko
2
10
3
  draw (missed opportunity to level)
Anish Giri
0
4
1
  draw (missed opportunity to level)
Pentala Harikrishna  
1
2
1
  win (evened lifetime score)
Loek van Wely
5
5
2
  win
Ivan Sokolov
1
0
1
  win (evened lifetime score)
Erwin L'Ami
3
0
1
  win
Hou Yifan
1
0
0
  win

What Carlsen has achieved to date is monstrous, but it is surely only the beginning. Some highlights:

Youngest world #1   19 years, 32 days, shattering Kramnik's prior record (20 years, 190 days)
Youngest 2800+   18 years, 336 days
Youngest 2700+   16 years, 213 days
Youngest 2600+   15 years, 32 days, since broken by Wesley So (14 years, 357 days)
Highest all-time rating   2872, pushing past Kasparov's own seemingly unachievable 2851 mark
Highest all-time performance rating   3002 (Nanjing Pearl Spring 2009)


Magnus Carlsen in his final game in the Pearl Spring 2009

If Carlsen made a New Year's resolution, one can only assume it was to add to this list in November by equaling Kasparov in securing the World Championship title at the age of 22. Until that time, however, we can continue to follow his uncompromising style in super-tournaments, of which he has now won 18. Alekhine, who might be considered the recordholder, won 39 "super-tournaments" of his own, over a span of 30+ years. Meanwhile, Carlsen's 5+ years of success, starting with Biel in August 2007, puts him on pace to achieve well over that indelible mark.

As goes without saying: "Lights! Carlsen! Action!"

Copyright von Keitz/ChessBase


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