How Carlsen thinks: an interview

by Johannes Fischer
6/19/2019 – On May 22, 2019, before the Lindores Abbey Tournament and Norway Chess, Energi Danmark invited Magnus Carlsen to come to Copenhagen, Denmark, to play a two-game exhibition match against 14-year old Danish IM Jonas Suhl Bjerre and a simul against 24 opponents. Carlsen won the match 2-0 and the simul 24-0 but between simul and match he still found time for an interview in which he talked about his development, how he got better, strategy, planning, and the way he thinks. | Photo: Screenshot from the interview | Energi Danmark

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


An interview with Magnus Carlsen

Throughout the interview with host Peter Lund Madsen the World Champion comes across as focused, articulate, and intent to share his views and thoughts on chess, motivation, learning, pattern recognition, memory, and a number of other topics.

Carlsen also gives insight into his thought and decision processes during games, showing surprising skepticism towards traditional ideas about planning and strategy.

The interview

The simul

In the simul Carlsen did not have much trouble and won all 24 games.


The match against Jonas Suhl Bjerre

Jonas Suhl Bjerre was born June 26, 2004, is an International Master and Denmark's greatest talent. In 2017 he won the European Junior Championship U14 and he currently (June 2019) has a rating of 2503. With this rating he is number nine in Denmark and one of the world's best players of his age but in the match against Carlsen he was, of course, the underdog – like any other player on earth. Bjerre indeed lost the match 0-2 but played focused and made Carlsen fight.

Game 1


Game 2


Energi Denmark...

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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