The Talented Mr Agdestein

12/14/2005 – Simen Agdestein, 38, is Norway's strongest player, having won the national title a total of seven times. He was a grandmaster at 18 and runner-up in the World Junior Championship in 1986, ahead of Anand, Bareev and Piket. Simen also represented his country in football, playing for the A-team until a knee injury stopped this career. Now he is going for something new: ballroom dancing.

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The Talented Mr Agdestein


Agdestein, signing a book on his student and training partner Magnus Carlsen

Simen Agdestein, 38 years old, is Norway's strongest grandmaster (now being challenged by Magnus Carlsen). Simen won his first Norwegian championship at the age of 15 and won it a total of seven times, including this year. He became an IM at the age of 16 and a grandmaster at 18. At the World Junior Championship in 1986 he came in second, ahead of Vishy Anand, Evgeny Bareev and Jeroen Piket. As White he prefers Queen Pawn openings, as Black the Ruy Lopez, Dutch and semi-open games.

BUT: there are other dimensions to Simen Agdestein. He is very likely the only player in history who represented his country in chess and in football. Indeed, for a while he juggled an international career both in chess and soccer, doing so until a knee injury terminated his (hmmm, let us think....) yes, his soccer career. Since then he has worked at a sports academy, teaching chess and football.

He is also the personal trainer of Norway's greatest chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen, whom he ironically struggled to defeat in this year's Norwegian Chess Championship.

Now the Talented Mr Agdestein is branching off into something new: world class ballroom dancing. Okay, we exaggerate – Simen is one of ten celebrities who will appear on a show to be aired on January 15 by Norway's largest television channel, TV 2.

The show is structured after the BBC's "Strictly come dancing". Each celebrity is given a professional dance partner as a trainer, trying to get them to professional level in time for the show. The candidates are judged by the studio audience, and the lowest-rated contestants are replaced in the coming week by a new team.

Simen's brother Espen Agdestein, a FIDE Master rated 2400, was cynical about the talent his brother would demonstrate. In a TV 2 Nettavisen interview he said: "Simen dances like a kangaroo."

Simen himself thinks this is going to be "a scary adventure", especially since he has never invited a girl on the dance floor. His partner and trainer will be Gyda Kathrine Bloch Svela-Thorsen, who has won four Norwegian Championship titles as a dancer (we remind you: Simen took seven as a chess player).

Incidentally Simen is married and has three children. The mother, Marianne Aasen Agdestein, is a member of Parliament for the Labour Party. He has the blessing of all of them for his "scary adventure" – apparently Simen is also a world-class talker.

TV 2 Nettavisens chess site

We received the above information from the new TV 2 Nettavisens chess site, which is becoming very popular in Norway. During the Agdestein-Carlsen Championship games the site attracted 250,000 unique visitors. Currently they are following the games of Magnus Carlsen in Khanty-Mansiysk on a minute-by-minute basis – for instance in the game Carlsen vs Lautier, which began at 10.55h Norwegian time with "Velkommen til" and ended at 15.36h with "MAGNUS HAR VUNNET!"



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