What if one of the famous football commentators, Essam al-Shawali or Raouf Khalif, was asked to comment on the final match of the FIDE world cup that took place in the Azerbaijani capital Baku last August, which ended with Norwegian Magnus Carlsen winning the title, after defeating India's Ramishabu Prajnanda? (1)

We can imagine hearing the following enthusiastic phrases: the king's pawn is two steps forward, the black responds with the pawn in square five, 10 minutes of preparation and attempts to control the center of the field, the white king sends his horse threatening the black pawn, O curtain, you mind dangers, the black supports the pawn through a jump from the minister's wing horse, the white elephant goes arrogantly and occupies the "C4" square.

That elephant in particular, gentlemen, will be humiliated and reeling at the end of the role, when all the outlets are closed to it. Minutes and the game ends, the Norwegian clasps his horse in front of the Black King, "It's not possible! Forgive me, unbelievable; the castle in "A3" and checkmate is not possible, Daddy, Daddy! The Norwegian is Baba, how much legends are insulted, Carlsen!"

This is the first time that the Norwegian has won the International Chess Federation Cup, although the treasury of the Grand Master Carlsen is full of many titles, most notably winning the World Cup Championship 5 times, and winning on 4 occasions the World Rapid Chess Champion, in addition to 6 Blitz chess champion titles.

The recent win confirms the Norwegian's position at the helm of the game, and Carlsen's trophy variety of classic, fast and blitz indicates an incredible ability to navigate between a calm and sober style and an intense format that requires quick and sharp decisions. Carlsen has been ranked first in the FIFA rankings since July 2011, as well as the record for the longest unbeaten run in classical chess history, with 2882,<> points, the highest ever ever held by a chess player.

المباراة النهائية في بطولة كأس العالم للاتحاد الدولي للشطرنج FIDE world cup. (مصدر الصورة: كأس العالم للاتحاد الدولي للشطرنج)

صعود البطل

Sven Magnus Carlsen was born on November 30, 1990, in the southern Norwegian city of Tønsberg. His mother Sigrun Owen is a chemical engineer, and his father Henrik is an IT consultant and has played the game as a hobby. The Carlsen family moved between Finland and Belgium before returning to Norway and settling in Barum. From an early age, Carlsen showed the ability to face intellectual challenges, as he could assemble a puzzle game of 50 pieces at the age of 2 years. The boy's competitive nature can be seen when he announced in 2010 that the motivation behind studying chess at the age of five was his desire to defeat his older sister, who had played the game before him.

Magnus made his debut at the age of eight, winning the Norwegian U-11 Championship. He finished sixth in the U-12 category at the European Championships, followed by second place in the U-12 boys' category at the World Youth Championships in Greece in 2002, after losing to Russia's Jan Nepomniachi. Curiously, Carlsen has not been able to win any tournament for young age groups in Europe. Russian chess coach Oleg Stichko (3) sees this as evidence of Magnus's ability to develop: "Where are those who preceded him in his boyhood?"

Carlsen was awarded the title of International Master in August 2003. In his 13th year, he won the title of Grand Master after finishing second at the Dubai Open. Earlier that year, the lad defeated former world champion Anatoly Karapov and drew another match against chess legend Gary Kasparov during a blitz chess tournament in Iceland. Surprisingly, Kasparov was on the verge of defeat in that match while the boy was a pawn, had it not been for time putting pressure on little Carlsen. Dirk Guisendam, managing editor of New in Chess magazine, commented on that match that it was a historic moment, the boy ranked 700th among the players at the time, while Kasparov, 28 years older than the boy, was ranked number one in the world, and there was certainly no chance for the youngster.

Carlsen finished tenth at the 2005 Chess World Cup in Mansiysk, Russia, thus becoming the youngest player to earn a place in the candidates' matches in 2007, however, he lost in the first round to Armenian chess player Levon Aronian (who finished seventh in the World Championship).

Carlsen was distinguished since his childhood with a strong memory, as he was keeping the capitals of the world's countries, their flags and population when he reached his fifth year, this feature prompted Ukrainian Adrian Mikhalkishin (4), the great professor (GM) and chess coach, to compare him to the geniuses of the game in the twentieth century, such as Fisher and Kasparov. Norwegian Semen Agdestein, a great professor who has trained the boy for 4 years since 1999, recounts that he gave the boy a book specializing in editorials to read, and the next day Carlsen made the opening excellently. Mikhalkishin comments on Carlsen's editorials: "His ability to take sharp positions immediately after the opening was completed was not clear, like Fischer and Kasparov when they were his age, but the boy quickly gained confidence, and by the age of 15, he could play complex openers, such as Sicilian and Slav-like defense."

Good motion guide

The first meeting between Carlsen and Ajdastein came at the Norwegian College of Senior Athletes, while the boy was studying under a Norwegian chess professor named Ringdal Hansen, who was doing his military service at the school. Ajdastein and Carlsen spent two or three hours analyzing a match (5), and Bent Larsen's Good move guide is the first book Carlsen read. Larsen was the first Western player to challenge the Soviet Union's dominance of the game over the past century, and was known for his innovative and unconventional style that confuses rivals.

Larsen's book is divided into 4 sections: look for the combination, look for the plan, look for the excellent move, and then explain some closing positions in chess roles. In the first part, Larsen laid out 100 positions, each of which includes an expected combination of chess pieces, and the reader must make the move that achieves that position. In the second section, there are 48 positions that highlight the mid-role and strategies followed. In the search for the best move, Larsen developed 40 games, during which he challenges the reader to search for the right move. Going deeper into Larsen's book leads to brainstorming and asks the reader questions, from the type of position that is best for the piece and finding an appropriate exchange between the pieces, or what is known in chess as sacrifice, as well as how to read the gaps above the board, whether they belong to the opponent or the player himself.

The book "Finding the Plan: A Good move guide" by Danish Bent Larsen. (Image Credit: Social Media)

Coach Oleg Stitchko recounts that by 2004 Agdestein realized that he was unable to raise the level of the youth further, and began the journey of searching for a suitable coach. Initially, Agdestein felt that Kasparov could bring the best care to the boy, but contact with the Russian came to nothing, until he found Denmark's Peter Heine Nielsen and saw him as the right coach for the boy.

Nielsen has been watching Magnus for a long time, and about a year before their cooperation he told a newspaper that the West had never known such talent since American hero Bobby Fischer. Working with Nielsen, Carlsen expanded his opening capabilities, which had to be modernized. Oleg recalls that Carlsen stopped using the opening of the Indian king's defense when playing black, and became more flexible in tense situations.

Nielsen was collaborating with world champion Vishvanathan Anand, and when he started working with Carlsen, he sometimes used him to prepare Anand ahead of the Indian's participation in important tournaments. For example, Carlsen was involved in Anand's preparations before facing Kramnik in the 2008 World Championship final, a tournament that was crowned by the Indian, who remained world champion until 2013, when he lost his title in the finals to his young friend Carlsen.

Magnus method

Frenchman Emmanuel Nieman (6) explains that this final highlights one of Carlsen's important potential, which is his ability to snatch victory in situations where things seem equal and the game is heading for a draw. In the sixth match against Anand, Carlsen conceded the "H" pawn giving the Indian a lead, but Carlsen's sacrifice was intended to open the way for the "F" pillar pawn, prompting the Indian to surrender.

Carlsen's style seems deceptively simple, genius lies in simplicity, and when you play in front of him his movements seem clear and not quirky, and you feel that this is the logical way to follow, but more often than not, his opponents - the best players in the world - do not expect how to attack.

Nieman explains one of the Norwegian's methods through what he calls "preventive thinking", as Carlsen chooses moves that push play to continuity, preventing the opponent from getting a draw, and as long as the play continues, there is a chance that the opponent will make mistakes, and here comes the role of the Norwegian in exploiting those mistakes.

Carlsen himself admitted this after the match between him and Russia's Daniil Dubov in December 2020: "I was trying to keep the situation alive, while I feel like there is no move to win, but suddenly I managed to deceive him and win. To be fair, it looked a bit casual, but it's okay, as long as a draw is possible, you can finally get something from games like this."

The Norwegian constantly changes his position during the turn, rallies his pieces towards the opponent's minister, and when the opponent counters his attack, Carlsen moves flexibly towards the king's wing, constantly changing the formation of pawn structures through exchanges, forcing the opponent to make a mistake (7). When the opponent is happy to counter an attack, such as a student answering a question on the exam, Carlsen will not give him a truce, and will immediately ask another question, perhaps different and more difficult, and his matches against Russian Sergey Karyakin are a model of this style.

The quest to change the course of play constantly is a trick known to chess players, when they fall into a bad situation or when things get in trouble, but for Carlsen it seems to be a basic way to get an advantage, even when he is in a good position, unlike great players like Fischer and Kramnik, their focus was on playing the best move, without running after changing the course of the board, this constant quest for change is exhausting and sometimes backfires, Carlsen himself suffered a loss from this style to strong defenders Flex, representing Frenchman Fashier Lagrave in the 2017 Snickfield Cup.



1- Carlsen vs Bragananda World Cup Final

2-  https://magnuscarlsen.com/en/bio

3- Oleg Stetsko & Adrian Mikhalchishin. Fighting chess with magnus Carlsen

4- Ibid.

5- Wonderboy Magnus Carlsen by Agdestein Simen

6- Emanuel Neiman. The Magnus method

7. Andrew Soltis. Magnus Carlsen: 60 Memorable Games