Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, who ranks as the best chess player in the world, said he was “surprised” but “quite proud” that he’d landed on an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as chosen by Time Magazine.
The US-based magazine claims to have more than 25 million readers around the world every week, and its annual list is considered important in defining the people who have the most influence on a global scale, for better or worse. Among them, for example, is the controversial president of North Korea Kim Jong-un, but also US President Barack Obama.
Carlsen, the 22-year-old former child chess prodigy from a western suburb of Oslo, also joins the likes of film director Steven Spielberg, rapper artist Jay-Z, the founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, and the new pope.
Time described Carlsen as a “chess wunderkind,” and former chess world champion Garry Kasparov called him “as charismatic and independent as he is talented.” Kasparov, asked by Time to write the magazine’s short profile of Carlsen, also claimed that after having “the opportunity to train Carlsen” three years ago, he believes the young Norwegian has “an intuitive style” that “conserves the mystique of chess at a time when every CPU-enhanced fan thinks the game is easy.”
Carlsen has been back in London, where he most recently won a major tournament that qualified him to face off against current world champion Vishy Anand of India, who won the title at a time when Carlsen had chosen not to compete because of disagreements over regulations. Anand himself has admitted that Carlsen is “probably the favourite” in their upcoming competition set for November.
Carlsen, his manager Espen Agdestein and Kasparov as well have recently been unhappy again about the world chess authorities’ plans to hold the championships in India, where Anand arguably would have a home turf advantage. Others feel the championship tournament should be held on neutral territory and in a country where climate, food and health issues aren’t major concerns.
This week, however, Carlsen and Agdestein seemed mostly happy that the young chess star was chosen for Time’s list. Carlsen called his inclusion an important international recognition of chess itself, and that he hoped it would further strengthen the position of chess in the world.
Agdestein told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “Magnus is very honoured to make the list.” Now they’ll need to evaluate whether to attend the magazine’s party for all those listed as being among the most influential.
Jan Egeland, the former peace broker from Norway who made the list in 2006 when he was the UN’s undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, advised Carlsen to “go to the party and have fun” if he has the time. Egeland declined his invitation to attend at the time because of a planned trip to Africa and doesn’t regret that, but said he simply failed to make it a priority.
“I didn’t put so much weight on being on the list at that point,” Egeland told NRK on Friday. “It was afterwards that I understood that other people weighed it more heavily than I did.”
Views and News from Norway / Nina Berglund