Carlsen wins Silicon Valley

by ChessBase
1/18/2014 – "Magnus Carlsen unleashed enough of his dry wit to keep his audience tittering or applauding," reports Forbes. The 23-year-old World Champion spent a week winning hearts and minds in the Californian computer mecca – giving Mark Zuckerberg a chess lesson, agreeing to chair a $5 million chess programme, and speaking to PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel in this one-hour video interview.

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Here are some of the Carlsen statements in Silicon Valley:

  • He briefly took martial arts lessons a few years ago but says “it didn’t do much for me.” Other people may be impressed by the example of Josh Waitzkin, a one-time chess prodigy who has largely walked away from chess in favor of becoming a black belt in jiujitsu. Carlsen demurs, explaining: “Josh didn’t have enough of a killer instinct to be successful in chess. That’s probably why he switched to something more peaceful.”

  • “My parents had brainwashed me to pursue higher education after high school. I thought that was reasonable. But then I was doing well enough at chess to be making some money.”

  • Diet matters. “Earlier today I had a burger. It made me feel awful. If I tried to play serious chess tonight, I’d play awful.”

  • “I think in 15 to 20 years, you will see India and China as the greatest chess powers in the world.”

  • Playing ultra-fast, or blitz, chess “can help you develop as a young chess player.” Carlsen says that when he plays blitz, he relies mostly on intuition. In a standard, slower match, he can check his hunches with detailed calculations. But in blitz, “you don’t have that luxury. Usually I do whatever comes to my mind first.”

  • “In chess training, I do the things I enjoy. I don’t particularly enjoy playing against computers, so I don’t do that.”

  • “Chess I think will never be fully solved by computers.” There are databases already for all possible moves with six pieces on the board, Carlsen says. “But I don’t think we’ll see seven pieces resolved in our lifetime. And as for all 32 pieces, that’s probably never going to happen.”

Source: Forbes


Magnus Carlsen is joining forces with America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) to bring the First Move chess program into elementary school classrooms as a tool for enhancing critical and creative thinking skills. As part of this effort, Magnus Carlsen has agreed to be Honorary Chairman for the non-profit joining a prestigious group of sponsors including Paul Tudor Jones, Silicon Valley Bank, Concur, Qualcomm, ZMD and Two Sigma. This initial grant is the first step toward raising $5M to bring the First Move program to half a million students by 2017. Optimized for second and third grade classrooms, this formal and interactive chess curriculum gives teachers a powerful tool to engage children in learning chess while providing critical skills that will benefit them for years to come.

The board members of First Move with a million dollar check for...

... the Magnus Carlsen Critical Thinking Grant

Carlsen has seen first-hand how First Move engages students, regardless of gender or background. He also recognizes the importance of teaching chess during the school day to give every student the opportunity to learn and benefit from the centuries old game. "I love the way chess empowers kids," said Carlsen. "I consider First Move to be the most strategic way to give kids an advantage and help them live up to their full potential."

Source: PR Newswire

On Thursday, January 16, 2014 was interviewed in the Computer History Museum, Mountain View (right next to the Google campus), California, by Peter Thiel, Technology entrepreneur and investor, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, and the first outside investor in Facebook. Peter is a former US-rated Chess Master with a lifelong passion for chess. Topics covered included Magnus’s views on the game, his experience winning the championship, and the role he believes chess can play in advancing young people’s critical thinking, social skills, and ability to achieve academically. Prior to the onstage program, Magnus played six-board blindfold simultaneous chess demonstration.

Here's the must-watch one-hour interview with Peter Thiel:

The level of discourse and language is noteworthy when you consider that
this is a native German interviewing a native Norwegian. Chapeau!

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