Chennai: He wanted to be part of the journey. So he quit his job as a vice-president at Norway's biggest magazine group Egmont to join Team Carlsen as the world no. 1's manager. As his client had just conquered the world, Espen Agdestein, 48, is happy that he took that decision. Running parallel to Magnus Carlsen and having same goals as the chess superstar, Agdestein has emerged as the best second in the game.
The well-built and soft-spoken Norwegian, who himself was a decent chess player with 2350 elo rating, idolises Mark Steinberg, who was a sports agent for Tiger Woods. In chess, only a few have full-time managers. Anand's wife Aruna doubles up as his manager. In Chennai, Agdestein was one of the busiest men and he acted as a buffer for Carlsen. The affable manager kept the media in good humour leaving his ward to focus completely on chess.
“Today, it has become important to have full-time managers. You need to create a brand .
Someone has to take care of the media. The chess training and tournament schedule has to be arranged. Sponsors have to be wooed and your itinerary to take part in public events and endorsement activities need to planned. The personal life also requires to be sorted out. Only with a full-time help, a player can focus on the sport and try to achieve his or her best,“ said Agdestein.
Carlsen's father Henrik was ini tially taking care of his son's needs. But as Carlsen became a GM at 13 years of age and started travelling around the world, he took the help of Agdestein to get spon sorship from Microsoft.
Later in 2008, when Carlsen was to work with Kasparov, the family again approached Agdestein, who helped them get sponsors to pay the Russian's exorbitant coaching fees. The relationship continued for a couple of years till Carlsen requested him to become his full-time manager in 2011.
“The last three years have been very interesting for me. Carlsen has done a lot of things apart from reaching the incredible elo rating of 2870. He modelled for G-Star, visited Harvard University and took on 10 lawyers in blindfold chess, played simul chess at Wall Street. He also got invitation for a big TV show in the US,“ said Agdestein, who added that every sport needs a profile and Carlsen is in the process of creating history in chess.
While Agdestein noted that it was difficult to get sponsorship in chess initially, because it was not a TV sport, yet the personality, age and achievement of Carlsen have made corporates including tech giants such as Apple look towards him.
“Everything gets easier when Carlsen is doing well at the chessboard,“ he said, adding that the US would be the next big destination for the Norwegian wunderkind....