January 1, 2013

Magnus Carlsen, we bow down to you

Magnus Carlsen breaks Garry Kasparov’s 13 year old record for reaching the highest FIDE rating ever achieved by any chess player. Srinath Narayanan takes a look back at Magnus Carlsen's journey. A brief yet informative article.

Magnus Carlsen, we bow down to you
By Srinath Narayanan

Chess since Gary Kasparov

Happy New Year everyone! Now, Vishy has already announced his plans to make 2013 his year by playing much more tournaments.  Now if you think 2013 is going to be your year, you would be in sync with both Vishy and myself!

Initially, this article was supposed to be in the form of a report about Magnus Carlsen breaking Garry Kasparov’s 13 year old record for reaching the highest FIDE rating ever achieved by any chess player, but those things have come in all the chess blogs already, so who wants to hear more of that?

So lets go back to 1999, when i had just started to play chess.  Back then,  it was just Kasparov.  Kasparov was winning just about every tournament he played during this period.   Despite that setback in the match against Kramnik in 2000, he went on to win almost every single tournament he played at that  time except when he slowed down a bit in the 2003-04 period just prior to his retirement.  After Gary retired, Veselin Topalov played some top class chess, had a 30 point lead on occasions over the 2nd placed player in the rating list for a while, but there was no sustenance.  It can be safely said that there was no player actually dominating the chess scene during this interval.  It’s true that Viswanathan Anand proved himself to be the best player, but it was nowhere near the kind of dominance that Gary displayed when he was at the top.

I think after a short gap, we have a new leader.  Magnus is not yet a World Champion officially, but we haven’t seen a 50 point lead at the top ever since Garry retired, and since 2011, Magnus has finished in the top 2 in every single event, except Tata Steel 2011, where he finished 3rd.  I think it can be safely said that in this period, Magnus has been without doubt the strongest chess player in the World. 

Let us assume, after the first 13 undisputed FIDE World Champions, the 13th being Kasparov, if Kramnik is the 14th and 

Anand is the 15th(Topalov’s 2005 triumph being not counted because Kramnik didn’t take part and because of the Prague agreement), if Magnus becomes World Champion next year, he would become the 16th.  As pointed out by Garry Kasparov already, it’s interesting to note that  this would be a continuum of Steinitz(1st Champion) Botvinnik(6th Champion), Fischer (11th Champion) with a revolution accomplished by every 5th Champion.

Apart from his chess accomplishments, Magnus also modelled for G-Star's Autumn-Winter advertising campaign apart from appearing in various outlets of the media, mostly recently appearing in the American TV Series 'The Colbert Report'

While he astonishes everyone with his results, what really boggles me is his highly unusual style of winning from certain positions where others won’t even think of trying.  Here are a few examples:-

And this one against the No:2 ranked player in the World:-

To conclude, here is a video of Magnus Carlsen defeating fellow teen wonder Sergey Karjakin in the World Blitz Championship in Astana