Magnus Carlsen answers fans' questions online

3/21/2014 – Following up on Nakamura's much appreciated online Q&A session with fans, Magnus Carlsen followed up with his own, leading to a fun mixture of usual questions with odd ones and unexpected replies. See what the world champion has to say about training and evolving, playing online anonymously ("You'd be amazed at the people I've lost to"), and even the candidates tournament. Don't miss it.

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Most amazing chess players and GMs that you hear about all started at a very young age, and were often very talented at that age. How much of an impact do you think starting at a young age has? Do you think it's possible to become a master after having started later in life? Is it so rare?

I think in order to be one of the best in the world, you need to start early on and have a passion and great drive to learn more. In order to become a Master or an International Master, I think you can start later and it's more about putting in the time and hard work rather than talent.

Magnus Carlsen, still an IM, held Kasparov to a draw after a sensational win over Karpov

What is your response to the general idea that you are too much of a grinder? A great many number of people have said that you specialize in squeezing out dry positions rather than playing attacking chess. Many GMs have called your style of chess as its death in some aspects.

I think it's an important trait of a good player to be able to have the same level of focus and creativity in simple positions as well as more complicated ones and thus create chances at any point in the game. I don't think making few mistakes and playing very accurately for a long time should be a negative.

When you play a game, how many variations are you going over in your head? How many moves out do you usually visualize?

I usually consider from one to three different moves and then the variations can be either fairly short or 15 - 20 moves if necessary.

What's the biggest blunder you've made since reaching GM status?

It's hard to say. I've blundered queens, rooks, minor pieces and pawns and check mates. Take your pick.

Everyone makes mistakes

Now that you are the best in the world. How can coaches help you get better? Or don't they at all? Is it just up to yourself now to improve?

Most of all it is up to myself to improve because even the best coaches don't fully understand what's going on in my mind – haha

Garry Kasparov provided training for Magnus Carlsen

How many beers would you need to drink for a Master to be able to beat you?

There is no answer to this question... even extremely intoxicated my chess strength and knowledge is still in my bones.

What was your most memorable/important victory and what was your most memorable defeat?

My most memorable victory was in the Norwegian Championship Under-11, when I was nine years old. Defeat: perhaps my loss to Ivanchuk in the Candidates last year, although fortunately that story had a happy ending.

What is your favorite chess game of all time?

Anand-Kamsky Candidates Match 1994

(Ed: Carlsen does not clarify which game, but we presume it is game four, which had more fireworks than New Year's)

Here is the game from Megabase 2014 with Anand's notes, and several other GMs:


[Event "Candidates FIDE sf1"] [Site "Sanghi Nagar"] [Date "1994.??.??"] [Round "4"] [White "Kamsky, Gata"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2695"] [BlackElo "2720"] [Annotator "Anand"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "1994.07.??"] [EventType "match"] [EventRounds "8"] [EventCountry "IND"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1994.10.01"] 1. d4 {Ftacnik Dautov} Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Bd2 Be7 8. Qc2 O-O 9. e4 Nxc3 10. Bxc3 Nd7 11. O-O-O c6 $5 $146 (11... c5 { Dautov}) (11... Qc8 {Dautov /\Rd8}) (11... Qc8 {Ftacnik} 12. h4 Rd8 13. d5 $1 (13. Rh3 h6 (13... Ba6 14. Bxa6 Qxa6 15. Rg3 Qc4 16. Kb1 Bf8 17. h5 f6 $2 18. e5 $1 f5 19. Ng5 Qd5 20. Re3 Be7 21. Nh3 Nf8 22. g4 $1 $16 {Anastasian, A-Stefansson,H/Luzern WchT/1993/1-0 (53)}) 14. d5 Nf6 15. Ng5 hxg5 16. hxg5 Ng4 17. f4 Bc5 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Qc3+ e5 20. Be2 Bd6 21. f5 Rg8 22. Bxg4 Kf8 23. Qf3 c6 24. f6 {Akopian,V-Granda Zuniga,J/Groningen PCA (03)/1993/0.5 (40)}) 13... Nf8 14. Rh3 $1 exd5 15. Rg3 g6 16. h5 $1 dxe4 17. Bc4 $16 Qf5 18. Ne5 Rxd1+ 19. Qxd1 Ne6 20. hxg6 hxg6 21. Bxe6 Bg5+ 22. Rxg5 $1 Qxg5+ 23. Kb1 fxe6 24. Qd7 $18 {Lputian,S-Hjartarson,J/Biel izt (13)/1993/1-0 (26)}) (11... c5 { Ftacnik} 12. Bb5 (12. dxc5 Qc7 13. cxb6 Nxb6 14. Kb1 Rac8 15. Rc1 Qd7 16. Ne5 Qe8 17. Qe2 Bf6 18. Qe3 Qa4 19. f4 Bxe4+ 20. Bd3 Bxd3+ 21. Qxd3 Nd5 22. Bd2 Nxf4 23. Bxf4 Qxf4 24. Nd7 {Dinstuhl,V-Almasi,Z/Budapest Elekes (03)/1993/0-1 (41)}) 12... Qc7 (12... a6 13. Bxd7 Qxd7 14. dxc5 Qc7 15. Ne5 Bxc5 16. Rd7 Qc8 17. Qd3 Bc6 18. Nxc6 Qxc6 19. Qg3 e5 20. Qxe5 Qh6+ 21. Kb1 Qg6 22. f3 Qxg2 23. Rhd1 a5 24. h4 {Lputian,S-Anastasian,A/URS-OT56 Blagoveshchensk/1988/1-0 (50)}) 13. d5 exd5 14. exd5 Rfd8 15. Rhe1 Nf8 16. Qe4 Ng6 17. h4 Bf8 18. g3 a6 19. Ba4 b5 20. Bc2 Qe7 21. Qg4 Qd7 22. Bf5 Qd6 23. h5 Ne7 24. Re6 {Piket,J-Polugaevsky, L (4)/Aruba m/1994/1-0 (44)}) 12. h4 $1 (12. Bd3 b5 {/\ a5<=>} (12... h6 { Dautov} 13. h4 b5 14. g4 a5 15. Bd2 Qb6 16. g5 h5 $13) (12... b5 13. d5 $1 cxd5 14. exd5 Bxd5 15. Bxh7+ Kh8 16. Rxd5 $1 exd5 17. Qf5 Bd6 (17... Nf6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Qh5 Kg7 20. Nd4 Rh8 21. Nf5+ Kf8 22. Re1 Rc8+ 23. Kb1 Rc7 24. Qh6+ Ke8 25. Qg7 $18) 18. Qh3 Bf4+ 19. Kb1 Nf6 20. Bf5+ Bh6 21. g4 $18)) 12... b5 13. Rh3 (13. e5 $5 {/\ Ng5}) (13. Ng5 $6 {Dautov} h6 14. e5 hxg5 15. hxg5 Bxg5+ 16. Kb1 g6 $19) (13. Kb1 $5 {Dautov} a5 14. d5 cxd5 15. Bxb5 Nf6 $13) 13... a5 14. d5 cxd5 (14... b4 $2 {Dautov} 15. dxe6 fxe6 16. Bc4 $18) (14... exd5 $2 {Dautov } 15. exd5 b4 (15... cxd5 16. Bxb5 $16) 16. dxc6 Bxc6 17. Ne5 $1 bxc3 18. Nxc6 cxb2+ 19. Kb1 Qe8 20. Re3 $18) 15. Bxb5 Nf6 (15... Rc8 $1 16. Ng5 $140 (16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Ng5 (17. Bxd7 Qxd7 18. Ng5 f5 $17 {/\Bf6}) 17... Nf6 $15) 16... Bxg5+ (16... Nf6 17. e5 $18) 17. hxg5 Qxg5+ 18. Kb1 Nf6 (18... Nf6 {Dautov} 19. exd5 Bxd5 20. Bxf6 Rxc2 21. Bxg5 Rxf2 22. g4 $18)) 16. Ng5 $1 Qb6 $1 $8 (16... h6 $2 {Dautov} 17. e5 $1 (17. exd5 Bxd5 18. Bxf6 Rc8 19. Bc3 hxg5 20. hxg5 Bxg5+ 21. Kb1 f5 $13) 17... hxg5 18. exf6 Bxf6 19. hxg5 Bxg5+ 20. Kb1 f5 (20... Bh6 21. Rxh6 $1 gxh6 22. Rd3 $40) 21. Qe2 Qb6 22. Rdh1 $40) 17. exd5 (17. e5 { Ftacnik} Ne4 18. Nxe4 (18. Bd3 Nxg5 19. hxg5 Bxg5+ 20. Kb1 h6 $15) 18... Qxb5 ( 18... dxe4 19. Bd7 (19. Ba4 Rfd8 $132) 19... Bd5 $36) 19. Nd6 Qc6 20. Nxb7 Qxb7 $15) 17... Rac8 $1 (17... Qxb5 {Ftacnik} 18. Bxf6 Rfc8 19. Bc3 g6 20. dxe6 Bxg5+ 21. hxg5 Qxg5+ 22. Kb1 $16) (17... Rfc8 {Ftacnik} 18. Bd7 Bxd5 19. Bxc8 Rxc8) 18. Bd7 Bxd5 $1 $44 (18... Rc7 $2 {Ftacnik} 19. dxe6 $16) 19. Bxc8 Rxc8 20. Rxd5 (20. Qd3 {Dautov} h6 21. Nf3 Ne4 $17) (20. Re1 {Ftacnik} Bb3 21. Qd2 Nd5 $36) 20... exd5 (20... Nxd5 $4 {Ftacnik} 21. Qxh7+) 21. Qf5 (21. Rd3 { Ftacnik} h6 22. Nf3 Ne4 $17) 21... Qa6 22. Kd2 $6 (22. Kb1 Qf1+ 23. Ka2 Qc4+ $10 (23... Qc4+ {Dautov} 24. Kb1 d4 $1 (24... g6 {Ftacnik} 25. Qd3 h6 $15) 25. Bxd4 Rd8 26. Nf3 (26. Bc3 $2 Rd1+ 27. Kc2 Qe2+ 28. Kb3 a4+ 29. Kxa4 Qc4+ 30. b4 Rd6 $19) 26... Rxd4 27. Nxd4 Qxd4 $15)) (22. Qd3 {Dautov} Qxd3 23. Rxd3 h6 24. Nf3 Ne4 25. Kc2 Bf6 $15) 22... g6 23. Qe5 (23. Qd3 {Ftacnik} Qb6 24. Bd4 Qc7 $17) 23... Re8 24. Re3 $2 (24. Qd4 Bd8 $1 (24... h6 $2 25. Re3 $1 $16) (24... Qf1 {Dautov} 25. Re3 $1 Qxf2+ 26. Kc1 $44) 25. Re3 Rxe3 26. Qxe3 h6 $13) (24. Qc7 {Ftacnik} Qf1 25. Rf3 Ne4+ $17) (24. Qd4 {Ftacnik /\ Re3+/=}) 24... d4 $1 $15 25. Bxd4 (25. Qxd4 $2 Rd8 26. Rxe7 Rxd4+ 27. Bxd4 Qd6 $19) 25... Bb4+ 26. axb4 Rxe5 27. Rxe5 (27. Bxe5 {Ftacnik} Ng4 $19) 27... Qc4 (27... axb4 {Ftacnik} 28. Nf3 $17) 28. Nf3 Qxb4+ 29. Kd3 (29. Bc3 {Ftacnik} Ne4+ 30. Kd3 Nxc3 $19) 29... a4 30. Nd2 (30. Bc3 {Ftacnik} Qb6 $17) 30... Qb7 $1 {פf6,e8} 31. f3 (31. Ne4 {Dautov} Qa6+ 32. Kd2 Nxe4+ 33. Rxe4 f5 $17) (31. g3 $5 {Dautov}) 31... Qa8 32. Nc4 Nd5 33. Nd6 (33. g3 {Ftacnik} Nb4+ 34. Ke2 Nc6 35. Re4 f5 $19) 33... Nf4+ 34. Kd2 Ne6 35. Bc3 Qd8 36. Rd5 Qxh4 37. Ne4 Kf8 38. Bb4+ $2 (38. Bf6) 38... Kg7 (38... Ke8 {Ftacnik} 39. Nd6+ Kf8 40. Ne4+) (38... Kg8 {Ftacnik} 39. Bc3 f5 40. Nf6+ $132) 39. Rd7 (39. Bc3+ $1 {Ftacnik} Kh6 40. Kc2 f5 41. Bd2+ Kg7 42. Bc3+ Kf8 43. Nf6 Qh1 44. Rd2 $17) 39... g5 $1 $19 40. Bc3+ Kg6 41. Ke3 h5 42. Ra7 Qh2 43. Kf2 (43. Rxa4 $2 {Ftacnik} Qg1+ 44. Nf2 Qc1+ 45. Bd2 Qc5+ $19) 43... Qb8 $1 44. Ra6 (44. Rxa4 f5 $1 (44... Qb6+ {Dautov} 45. Kg3 (45. Ke1 {Ftacnik} Qg1+ $19) 45... Qg1 $19) 45. Nd2 Qb6+ $1) 44... Qc8 $1 45. Ra5 (45. Rxa4 {Ftacnik} f5 46. Nd2 Qc5+ 47. Kf1 Qb5+ 48. Rc4 Nc5 49. Kg1 Nd3 $19) 45... h4 $4 (45... Qc6 $1) (45... Qc7 $1 {Dautov}) 46. Nf6 $4 (46. Rf5 $1 Qc7 47. Rf6+ Kh7 $15) 46... a3 $1 $19 47. Rxa3 Qc5+ 48. Kf1 Qb5+ 49. Kg1 Qe2 50. Ng4 Nf4 51. Nf2 h3 52. Ra8 (52. gxh3 {Ftacnik} Qxf3 53. Kf1 Qg2+ 54. Ke1 Qg1+ $19) 52... h2+ $1 (52... hxg2 53. Ra1 Qxf3 $19) 53. Kxh2 Qxf2 0-1

Do you ever log onto sites as an anonymous player and just crush people for fun?

Once in a while I've used some of my friends accounts and won a couple of games... or a lot...

When playing on online, do you ever run into a particularly tough opponent and think to yourself "I must have at least heard of him" because there are so few people that have even a chance to win against you?

You'd be amazed at the people I've lost to while playing online...

Signing autographs for the fans

What do you think of Nakamura joking with calling you Sauron on Twitter?

I've never actually watched Lord of the Rings... if I had, and Nakamura had been a better chess player, I might have been more insulted.

If you could play any historic chess player in their prime, who would it be?

There are many options, but the first that comes to mind is Kasparov and Fischer, as well as Capablanca.

I noticed on your Twitter account that you are closely following the 2014 Candidates tournament. Are there any games or positions that have struck you as particularly interesting or beautiful?

I was impressed by Anand's win against Aronian in the first round. It's not often that you beat the number two player in the world purely by technique.

For the full Reddit Q&A click here.


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Fabio Biancalana Fabio Biancalana 3/21/2014 09:53
In my opinion he means Anand - Kamsky 1994 Marshall gambit - way more interesting than the game you showed here

Fabio
1