“I’m not a genius.” This is what 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen of Norway stated in a recent video interview with Rainn Wilson on the actor’s Metaphysical Milkshake Internet series. Carlsen indicated that if he were to write a book, this might be the opening sentence. His remark establishes one fact: that he is not a prima donna, and that he is among the many grandmasters with an even temperament. However, his assertion of not being a genius is beyond his power to deny. By winning the recent London Classic tournament, he elevated his rating to 2872, breaking Garry Kasparov’s record of 2807, and achieving the highest in the game’s history.
An interview in New in Chess explains how he had planned, as he put it, “to bring chess to a higher level.” The Norwegian press prior to the London tournament revealed that winning the first game of the tournament would put him over the Kasparov record. However, Carlsen felt that he needed 5.5 points to maintain the new achievement. It turned out, he later said, that he needed 6 points and he got 7. In the process, he performed at a towering 2994 and set commentators to work wondering how he manages such triumphs. New in Chess published a special article on the subject by British Grandmaster Jon Speelman titled “End Game Magic.” It seems that Carlsen does not specialize in strong openings, but from a position of equality, or even worse, he improves his position gradually and his end game is fearfully accurate and probably his most lethal weapon. His opponents are now loath to go into any end game with him; it seems they would be happy just to get a draw.
The Candidates’ tournament starting March 15 will test Carlsen’s ability to continue his roll. It’s a double round robin among nine grandmasters. The winner will play Viswanathan Anand of India for the world championship later this year. Anand, who had some poor results last year, has elected to play more often in 2013. He won clear first with a score of 6.5/10 at Baden Baden, Germany, a six-player round robin, having passed Fabiano Caruana in the last round.
Anand and Caruana moved on to the Zurich Chess Challenge, a double four-player round robin, where they faced Boris Gelfand and Vladimir Kramnik, who will be among Carlsen’s opponents March 15. Caruana, who will not be in the Candidates’, beat Anand on the black side of a Ruy Lopez in one of two encounters, and won the tournament, a point ahead of Anand.
Brevity: V. Mikenas vs. S. Flohr (1933) 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 dxc4 8.d5 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Ne5 10.0–0 Qd7 11.Qe2 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 0–0–0 13.b3 e6 14.bxc4 exd5 15.Bf4 d4 16.Nb5 Bc5 17.Rab1 Qc6 18.Qh3+ Qd7 19.Nxa7+ Bxa7 20.Qa3; 1-0.
Winners: Newburyport February Swiss: 1st-2d: Geoffrey Collins, John Elmore, 3.5-0.5; Boylston February Thursday Night Swiss: 1st-4th, Evan Rabin, Daniel Schmidt, Terrence Fricker, Anthony Di Nosse, 3-1.
Coming Events: 22d Annual Eastern Class Championship, March 15-17, Host Hotel at Cedar Lake, 366 Main St., Sturbridge, www.chess
tour.com/ecc13.htm; Western Mass. Open, March 23-24, Holyoke Community College,
313 Homestead Ave., Holyoke, RonGist@