Chess champ ‘just average’
December 31, 2009 Edition 1

OSLO: The chess world’s new No 1, 19-year-old Magnus Carlsen, plots 20 moves ahead and can remember matches he played six years ago move for move, but insists he is pretty much an average teenager.

The brightest talent in a generation, according to his Russian coach, chess great Garry Kasparov, Norway’s Carlsen will officially become the youngest top-ranked player when new rankings come out at the start of next year.

Dubbed the “Mozart of chess”, Carlsen plays with a healthy dose of natural intuition on top of deep analysis and pursues other interests he believes help his game.

He brushes aside comparisons with the world’s troubled chess geniuses, such as champion Bobby Fisher, a prodigy who became engulfed by chess and detached from the rest of the world.

“The difference between him and me, for example, is that he was obsessed with chess in a way that is not healthy and that’s a line I don’t intend to cross,” said Carlsen.

“I try not to mix chess with life. When I don’t play I more or less do normal things for a teenager.”

Carlsen finished high school this year and has become a household name in Norway, where he has won a number of person of the year honours.

He began playing at the age eight, mainly to beat his older sister, which took him “a few weeks”. Within a year he was regularly defeating his father, who plays club-level chess, and at 13 he had a shock speed chess win against world champion Anatoly Karpov, and a draw against Kasparov.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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