Magnus Carlsen defeats Stephen Colbert 2-0

4/25/2012 – We know he is the strongest in the world, but did you know this was true about rock-paper-scissors? Magnus Carlsen was on the Colbert Report (pronounced Coll-bair Re-por) last night, and after obediently answering the chess questions was challenged by the host to a best-of-three in the well-known hand game. The chess prodigy won convincingly with a perfect 2-0 score. You can watch it here.

Magnus Carlsen on the Colbert report

As we recently reported the world's highest ranked chess player, Magnus Carlsen, had, like President Barack Obama and Beatle Paul McCartney, been invited toe the American satirical Colbert Report. Yesterday was the day and here is the memorable appearance:

You can watch the full episode of the April 24 Colbert Report here. The Colbert Report is a spin-off from The Daily Show that satirizes conservative personality-driven political pundit programs. The show focuses on a fictional anchorman character named Stephen Colbert who is a "well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot." You can watch the show regularly here.

In the Colbert Report Magnus is asked about the way he thinks in chess, his image as a fashion model and his views on Bobby Fischer. Here is a transcript:

Steven Colbert: My guest tonight is currently the number one ranked chess player in the world. I'm gonna ask him what the little horsy does. Please welcome Magnus Carlsen! Magnus, thank you so much for coming on, honored to meet you – Magnus Carlsen. We're not so different, you and I, we're both geniuses, number one in our fields and both very young.

Magnus Carlsen: I can say that, yeah!

You are the third youngest grandmaster of all time. And you were the youngest – aged nineteen – the youngest number one chess player in the world. How old were you when you started playing?

I was about eight.

Eight years old. And by the time you were thirteen you were a grandmaster. What was the affinity you had for chess from the beginning?

I don't know. I just started playing, I liked the game and I started studying a lot....

But a lot of people like the game. What do you see when you look at a chessboard. Are you seeing, like, little wooden pieces on a board, or are you seeing some sort of fouth dimensional tesseracts. Do the pieces turn to you in your mind and talk to you and say "move me Magnus"? Do you see the board differently than a normal, average, not-genius?

No, not really. I just see the board, the pieces, everything, and obviously I think of patterns, what to do next and so on. But the pieces, in general, they're just tools for me.

So they don't talk to you?

No, not too much, no.

Now you're not just a chess player, you've also done a little bit of modeling. Jim, do we have those photographs here... That might be the sexiest chess player I've ever seen.

In Europe, where they love the chess, you're a superstar, right?

Especially in Norway.

Okay, in Norway you've two big sports. You've got chess and... sadness. It's an indoor sport, chess. Does that help in Norway, since you've got the long winters?

Yeah, probably. I guess in Norway when it's cold and dark outside people need something to do.

Do you have any special moves? Do you psych out your opponent, like, do you get up and walk around or anything like that?

Yeah, I do sometimes get up and walk around, but...

And that's not to psych out the opponent?

No, that's usually just because I'm bored.

Really, you're so good that you're mostly bored in competition? When you win, do you have, like, a special move, do you, like, spike the bishop and go "how ya like me now'"

No, not really, I just try to be as respectful as possible to my opponent.

What do you think of Bobby Fischer? He was our great champion. He went, er, the crazy. Is there a fear that that would happen, that you would think about chess too much and you will lose your mind?

No, I mean...

Really? Do you like Fischer?

Yes, absolutely, he was one of the greatest players of all time. It's impossible not to like his chess. You can say whatever you want about him as a person, but as a chess player I cannot help but admire him greatly.

Any time I have a guest who is a competitor, I don't let them leave this building without competing with them. I am a grandmaster of my own, I am the second-youngest grandmaster of rock-paper-sissors of all time. Would you play me best two out of three?

Of course.

Let's be clear here: it's one, two, three, shoot! How are you strategizing right now, because I got a strategy already, I'm like seeing twenty steps ahead. And there's only one step...

For me it is a hundred percent random.

I see you have no opening.


[You can watch the memorable rock-paper-sissors match, in which Colbert is severly
trounced by the chess super-grandmaster, in the video embed given above. Hilarious.]


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