Soccer was Magnus’ first love, not chess: Father
Susan Ninan, TNN | Aug 20, 2013, 05.51 AM IST

CHENNAI: A prodigy is not born in every household who goes on to take the world by a storm and redefine sporting dynamics. Magnus Carlsen is one such case in point and his father Henrik is by far both the biggest contributor and testimony that went into the making of the 22 year-old reigning world No. 1 chess player – creative, brilliant and master of all he surveys.

“I have to pinch myself now and then to believe that all this is true,” his father says of Magnus’ international stature. An amateur player himself, Henrik initiated Carlsen into the world of 64 chequered boxes. “He wasn’t too keen on the sport when I first exposed him to it. I decided not to be pushy and left it there. Till he was seven or eight, he was into football, before he returned to chess on his own volition.”

Allowing their son to drop out of high school would not be an easy decision for any parent. But when Magnus had to do so to focus more on his chess, his father stood by his choice and allowed him to pursue his passion.

“In Norway, the education system is flexible unlike many other countries. So he had the leeway to take up a sport. I was happy to see that he was making rapid progress in the sport and thought it prudent to allow him to take his game to the next level. In a country like ours, chess is not really a popular sport. But the evolution of the internet has helped in many ways.”

Both Henrik and his wife are engineers (mechanical and chemical respectively) and apart from Carlsen, have three daughters. While the eldest Ellen is pursuing medicine, Ingrid has completed her high school and is set to join a dance academy while the youngest Signe, is in high school.


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