Friendly relations: Magnus Carlsen and Donald Duck

by ChessBase
10/22/2014 – In Norway Magnus Carlsen is a hero. TV transmissions of chess events, in which he participates, attract hundreds of thousands of viewers, and popular culture also regularly pays tribute to Carlsen. And when the World Championship match begins in November, Norwegians will see their champion in the company of an old and familiar friend: Donald Duck.

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Magnus Carlsen to be celebrated in a Donald Duck comic strip

by Carl Peter Kirkebo

The world top ranked chess player is known to be a vivid football enthusiast. Less known might be that he is also a great Donald Duck enthusiast. Recently NRK - The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation - could report that Magnus Carlsen will be featured in a Donald Duck comic strip to be released the same time as the Anand - Carlsen match commences in November.

Magnus Carlsen (left) with illustrator Arild Midthun (center) and
author Knut Nærum (right) (Photo: Kristian Nymoen / NRK).
This comic is written by the norwegian writer Knut Nærum and Magnus Carlsen himself.
As a big Donald fan Carlsen has come up with ideas to the story during the process.

Magnus takes the shape of the character "Maxpuls Klarsyn" in the comic strip. Arild Midthun, the illustrator, based his drawings of the face of Magnus on a peanut indented in the middle! By following the above link, ChessBase readers can judge by themselves if the provided samples have captured Magnus's profile accurately!

Donald Duck playing chess with the champion. But who might be Kvakkamura? (Picture:, © Disney)

NRK reports in the same article that Magnus contributed to the script. When questioned about his terms for participating, Magnus answered that his only demands were that he could play some pranks on his competitors in the comic story. NRK's article does not reveal which competitors might be mentioned or portrayed. In addition to the above article, the story was also featured on NRK's main news broadcast. (It's report number 13, which starts at 23m13s).

Cover of the issue which will be published in November (© Disney)

In short glimpses from the comic strip, in addition to Magnus and Donald, one can recognize the Norwegian celebrity (crime story author, chess player and chess arbiter) Hans Olav Lahlum as the arbiter of the game between Donald and Magnus. In the interview, Magnus is asked if being part of a Donald story is greater than winning at chess. Jokingly, Magnus replies that this certainly is the case: Now he has achieved two of his main goals in life; he will be part of a Donald Duck story and he has been a guest at "Nytt på Nytt", a very popular satirical news program.

Although one hardly believes that Magnus would rank his many achievements on the chess board lower than featuring in a Donald Duck story, there is still some essence of truth in his statement. In Norway, Donald Duck is very popular both among the young and the old. Magnus Carlsen is one of many Norwegians who have grown up reading comics and Donald Duck in particular.

Magnus Carlsen still enjoys the company of Donald Duck.

At the most, the weekly editions sold about 250 thousand copies. This is quite spectacular considering the population of Norway at that time was slightly above 4 million inhabitants. How can one explain why Donald Duck is so popular in Norway?

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen has a head for jokes.

If you ask the average Norwegian or perhaps even Magnus, they might all struggle to give a good explanation. Donald appeared as a comic for the first time in Norway in 1948. One explanation that has been offered for the ensuing popularity is that Donald appeared at the right time in Norway. Following WWII, there was not much to be found in the form of entertainment. Decades ago, there was not the present abundance of TV channels, internet, videos, video games and other comics for that matter. Donald had little competition and the quality of the stories appealed to the readers. The stories by Carl Barks have become classics in Norway and the few times Carl Barks visited Norway, he was received as a pop star.

Donald and Magnus

Since Donald Duck and the other characters of Duckburg became household names in Norway in the late 40s and early 50s, the attachment to Donald has passed on from generation to generation. Many Norwegians have learned to read through the stories of Donald and friends. All though the above explanation might seem plausible, it alone does not explain why Donald has been so extremely popular in Norway as compared to other countries. An additional factor might be that Norway consists of a relatively homogenous population. If something becomes popular it will catch on fast and attract a relatively high percentage of the population.

The earlier mentioned tv show "Nytt på Nytt" is an example of this cultural phenomena. The show averages more than one million viewers every Friday, which is more than 20 % of the population. The world famous Late Show with David Letterman now averages about 3 million viewers per show. Since the first issue of Donald Duck was published in 1948, the oldest issues have all become collectors' items. Some days ago the first issue was sold at the record price of NOK 122.500 at an auction house.

The buyer wishes to remain unknown. Could it actually be Magnus?

More info about the cooperation will be found on the webpage when the World Cup starts.

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