Magnus Carlsen

March 19, 2014

Hello Reddit – I’m Magnus Carlsen, the World Chess Champion and the highest rated chess player of all time. AMA.

Hi Reddit!

With the FIDE Candidates tournament going on - where my next World Championship competitor will be decided - and the launch of my Play Magnus app, it is good timing to jump online and answer some questions from the Reddit community.

Excited for a round of questions about, well, anything!

I’ll be answering your questions live from Oslo, starting at 10 AM Eastern time / 3 PM Central European Time.

My Proof: * I posted a short video on my YouTube channel ( * Updated my official Facebook Accounts ( / * Updated my official Twitter Accounts ( /

Edit: This has been fun, thanks everyone!

What is your favorite chess game of all time?

Anand - Kamsky Candidates Match 1994

Hi Carlsen, First let me thank you for starting a channel in Youtube and your really well made app 'Play Magnus'

Recently you subscribed to ChessNetwork on youtube. What do you think of his videos because his 1min bullet games get a lot of attention in reddit like this and this?

When you are bored, do you play in any online chess websites?

Unfortunately I haven't had time to see many of the videos.

Yes, I play online chess in the past quite a bit on the ICC and a bit on

Do you ever log onto sites like, as an anonymous player, and just crush people for fun?

Once in a while I've used some of my friends accounts and won a couple of games... or a lot...

Follow up question; when playing on, do you ever run into a particularly tough opponent and think to yourself "I must have at least heard of him" because there are so few people that have even a chance to win against you?

You'll be amazed at the people i've lost to while playing online...

Hi Magnus,

Back in 2004 you gave a Simul on ICC. I was one of the lucky to get selected to play against you then. We agreed to a draw after 35 moves from a Sicilian Najdorf, English attack. My 2nd greatest chess achievement and an enormous honor to play you.

How serious do you take simuls? Once you leave a board, do you only focus on the next board or do you find yourself still considering previous positions? Do you have certain strategies you aim for, such as do you tend towards more sharp positions for fun and out calculate your opponents, or do you tend towards more positional games and out maneuver to victory?


  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. O-O-O Nxe3 12. Qxe3 Qc7 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. Rxd5 Nc6 16. Bd3 Rad8 17. Rxd8 Rxd8 18. h4 a5 19. a3 a4 20. Nd2 Nd4 21. c3 Nc6 22. Bc2 Na5 23. h5 Bc5 24. Qe2 Qb6 25. Ka2 Be3 26. Ne4 Nb3
  2. Bxb3 Qxb3+ 28. Ka1 f5 29. Qxe3 fxe4 30. Qxe4 Rd1+ 31. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 32. Qb1 Qe2 33. Qa2+ Kf8 34. Qd5 Qxg2 35. Qxb7 Qf1+ {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2

Sometimes when I play simuls, I make a mistake on one board and I spend some time being upset about that; but usually I try to move on and focus on the next one.

I take pride in what I do and I always try to do my best and play the best moves - not play for tricks.

It seems our game was pretty positional up until a certain point. You played well.

do you ever struggle playing yourself age 23 in the Play Magnus app? I personally pride myself in beating you at 8 years old.

I always struggle playing against Magnus 23. When playing younger "Magnuses" I'm occasionally successful.

Hi Magnus! Even though you were International Master and Grandmaster early on, did you ever feel like you have plateaued with your game, that you did not think you could get better, or did you always know that you could be the best player ever? And if you did think you could not get better, how did you get better?

Times when I was struggling, I always kept a very positive mindset. I thought that things would turnaround in the next game, or the next tournament. Eventually it did.

As for plateaued, I still feel that I have plenty to learn. It's just about translating more knowledge into better play and better results.

What do you think made you the strongest man in the world?


Time Controls are a big debate in the chess world. If it were up to you, would you make chess more spectator-friendly by reducing time controls or would you keep them where they are at the moment?

I think the currently classical time control is a good one, it gives plenty of time to think and come up with good ideas, while still keeping the excitement for viewers.

Thanks for doing the IamA, Magnus! I've recently gotten really interested in chess so this is exciting for me!


I usually consider from 1 -3 different moves and then the variations can be either fairly short or 15 - 20 moves if necessary.

Blunder: it's hard to say I've blundered Queens, rooks, minor pieces and pawns and check mates. Take your pick.

I see the whole "page"

Hey Magnus, let me just start and say that i'm a really big fan.

I'm trying to break the 2000 barrier and I was wondering if you could give me any advice to achieve my goal.

Thanks for doing an AMA!

Studying tactics, I would say. Up to that level, most games are still decided by someone hanging a piece...or blundering a checkmate - haha

Hey Magnus, You have been one of the major reason why I have gotten back into watching chess again.

My questions is: What is your favorite European football team, and who do you think will win the World Cup?

Cheers man.

I'm assuming you're referring to soccer? I think I'm going to be "original" and pick Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany in the semi-finals ... anything can happen from there.

Magnus, What was your most memorable/important victory and what was your most memorable defeat.

My most memorable victory was in the Norwegian Championship Under 11, when I was 9 years old.

Defeat: perhaps my loss to Ivanchuk in the Candidates last year, although fortunately that story had a happy ending.

Hi Magnus! Just wondering what is your favorite unorthodox opening?

I don't play an orthodox openings. I prefer to give mainstream openings my own spin.

Do you think you will be able to break the 2900 barrier in the next few years?

If I keep up my level and improving, I think I have a good chance. It's not a goal in itself, if I play well, it happens.

Hi Magnus! I'm a fan from Pakistan. We all know you as a child prodigy. What I wanted to know is whether you had a clear understanding of chess principles, openings and defenses as a child or did the game just naturally make sense to you and you winged it?

My coach Peter Heine told me that he saw me play as a ten year-old, and gained the impression of someone who knew a lot of theory but couldn't play that well on his own. So, it has been a long process and gradually I have learned more and more about the game.

I've always wondered; now that you are the best in the world. How can coaches help you get better? Or don't they at all? Is it just up to yourself now to improve?

Ignorer brukernavnet mitt, hehe!

Most of all it is up to myself to improve because even the best coaches don't fully understand what's going on in my mind - haha

How good were you in general classes in school. Like math, sciences, etc. I'm wondering if genius in chess translates to exceptional performance in all academics.

I think to be successful in anything, at least for me, you need to focus and spend time to get knowledge and understanding of different subjects. When I did that in school, I did very well. When I spent more time on chess than on school, I did less well.

Hey Magnus. Do you see yourself making live commentaries on your YouTube channel? For example, you play a game of blitz chess while commentating why you do this and that.

I will definitely consider doing that.

Have you ever played anonymous blitz online?

Yes, numerous times.

What's your favorite chess book? Favorite non-chess book?

Chess book: Kramnik: My Life & Games made a strong impression on my as a child

Non-chess book: close race between several Donald Duck comics (seriously).

I noticed on your Twitter account that you are closely following the 2014 Candidates tournament. Are there any games or positions that have struck you as particularly interesting or beautiful?

I was impressed by Anand's win against Aronian in the first round. It's not often that you beat the number 2 player in the world purely by technique.

If you could play any historic chess player in their prime, who would it be?

There are many options, but the first that comes to mind is Kasparov & Fischer, as well as Capablanca.

Hey Magnus! Thanks so much for doing this. I'm a big fan.

My second in the world championship Jon Ludvig Hammer is a huge fan of three checks and he has tried to teach me some of the finer points of the game so far in vain.

I really enjoyed Monopoly as a child. I played it all the time with my sisters.

I generally enjoy playing against the best in the world.

Hi Magnus, Welcome to reddit and thanks for doing AMA!

Is perfect chess a draw or win for white? What do you think?

I don't know, but I am very much leaning towards a draw.


I don't know... I've been into chess for such a long time, so I haven't really had a chance to think about it

Hey Magnus! Any tips for a beginner chess player? I'd like to hear from the master.

Play Magnus! Check out my videos on the app.

What's the biggest problem facing the world of competitive chess right now?

There are some good things happening right now, but I think there can be improvement in presenting the game so that it can reach a broader audience, draw more sponsors and thus have a more stable tournament cycle.

How has your life changed since winning the World Championship? Has it become more difficult to stay motivated?

My approach to tournaments has not changed that much, even before the World Championship I was the best player in the world, so in that sense it's the same and I am the one to beat. I have the confidence that I can always do well.

How many beers would you need to drink for a Master to be able to beat you?

There is no answer to this question... even extremely intoxicated my chess strength and knowledge is still in my bones.

(1) what do you think of the games / commentary of chessexplained / kingcrusher / curtains on youtube?

(2) How do you train? what do you think is the best way to improve as a chess player?

(3) Are there still aspects of chess that humans do better than computers? How good does a computer have to be to beat the best humans? Could my cell phone do it? If a computer disagrees with you, do you always think that the computer must be right?

(4) Why do master players online play so much blitz? Why not lengthy games?

(5) How do you think Fischer would do against top players like yourself, Carlsen, or Kasparov? How would Morphy do?

(6) Who are your favorite players throughout history and who do you think are the best players?

Training: it's mostly by thinking about chess, which happens all the time. More concretely, about opening analysis and tactical exercises.

Blitz online: playing long games online just takes too much time. It's fun to play blitz once in a while, where you can rely more on your intuition, your instincts rather than pure calculation and analysis.

What makes a good second and why did you pick the ones you did?

Basically two things: 1. Being good at chess 2. Getting along well with me

Hey Magnus. Do you manage the youtube channel yourself, or have someone else do it? For example your subscriptions for ChessNetwork, thechesswebsite and kingscrusher; have you watched their videos? Also, looking forward to more chess content on there with some advanced stuff. There's plenty of good beginner lessons available already. Cheers :)

I do the videos for my YouTube channel. I'm planning to make more content for the videos, it just takes time.

I don't have a lot of time to watch videos.

Hi! What do you think of Nakamura joking with calling you Sauron on Twitter?

I've never actually watched Lord of the Rings... if I had, and Nakamura had been a better chess player, I might have been more insulted.

Heisann Magnus,

Are there any other games you're particularily good at? Strategy games?

No I basically suck at everything else...

Hi. I see a lot of people asking this question on /r/chess and I'm curious about it as well.

Most amazing chess players and GMs that you hear about all started at a very young age, and were often very talented at that age. How much of an impact do you think starting at a young age has? Do you think it's possible to become a master after having started later in life? Is it so rare?


I think in order to be one of the best in the world, you need to start early on and have a passion and great drive to learn more. In order to become a Master or an International Master, I think you can start later and it's more about putting in the time and hard work rather than talent.

Will you ever play against the houdini engine? And do you think you would be able to beat it?

No, and no. I only play against Magnus 23.

Thank you for doing an AMA and for creating the "Play Magnus" app. I really love the app but what would make it even better would be if there was multiplier functionality. My questions is this, do you have a time frame for when multiplier will be added, and what other functionality is planed?

I assume you're asking about multi-player? I want this functionality in the app, but it will take some time to develop, I don't have a time frame for you yet, but hoping this year.

Hello Magnus,

  1. What are your thoughts on the ongoing Candidates 2014? Does Vishy winning make it easier for you or do you have another favourite in the tournament? I ask because judging from your tweets, you don't really hold Anand in the highest regard :)

  2. What is your response to the general idea that you are too much of a grinder? A great many number of people have said that you specialize in squeezing out dry positions rather than playing attacking chess. Many GMs have called your style of chess as its death in some aspects.

  1. No, it didn't have anything to do with Anand, I'm very impressed by his level of preparation and general play both tactically and technically so far in the Candidates.

  2. I think it's an important trait of a good player to be able to have the same level of focus and creativity in simple positions as well as more complicated ones and thus create chances at any point in the game. I don't think making few mistakes and playing very accurately for a long time should be a negative.

There's a pretty large age gap beetwen you and the 2014 Candidates participants Do you think that's to your advantage? Also of the younger Grandmasters who do you see as a future threat to the World title?

I think players like Anand, Kramnik, Topalov and Svidler are part of a very strong generation of players, so it's kind of natural that they're still sticking around.

To the second question: I think it is very early to say who will be a future threat, it's really hard to see those traits before players are fully developed.

What is your motivation to keep playing chess? Personally I play it for fun and get bored as soon as I play frequently. Do you just love the game or is it the winning instinct that keeps you going?

A bit of both. But most of all I want to learn and improve.

What is your favorite meal, and what do you eat before a match?

I don't have a favorite meal, but before the match I would usually eat an omelette or a some yogurt with fruit.

Hey Magnus Do have have any other plans or goals you want to achieve? You've conquered chess, what next?

I don't think I've conquered chess yet. I still have very much to learn and there is much room for improvement, so I think I'll stick to that for a while.

[No question]

Thanks everyone!

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Magnus Carlsen conducted on Reddit on 2014-03-19. The Reddit AMA can be found here.