Squire of squares

Published Dec 1, 2013, 1:06 pm IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 9:16 pm IST
Magnus Carlsenis now the game's World Champion and also one of the world's most eligible bachelors.

The mozart of chess, 23-year-old Magnus Carlsenis now the game's World Champion and also one of the world's most eligible bachelors.

The world of chess has an exciting new cham pion. For a school dropout aged 23, Magnus Carlsen, has done pretty well for himself. He is as much at home on the world catwalk, rubbing shoulders with top supermodels and Hollywood celebrities and appearing on late-night satirical television shows as he is with facing grandmasters across a board of 64 squares.


Carlsen brings a bubbling vitality to a game that is avidly followed in close to 200 countries. Being the first champion from the West after Bobby Fischer, he is set to cash in on his fame and celebrity status. The young Norwegian has already been on the cover of Time and named one of “the sexiest men of 2013“ by the celebrated Cosmopolitan magazine. Hollywood offers cannot be far away .

Now that he is the world champion, Magnus might even believe he has the time to develop a serious relationship. One of the world’s most eligible bachelors, the grandmaster is said to be keen on a girlfriend now and girls must be queuing up already, says his manager, Espen Agdestein, revealing the innermost secrets of his ward.


“He doesn’t like too much drama and difficulties,” Espen explains.

There might have been a lot of drama in his young life already but difficulties have been few as evidenced in his trouncing of defending champion, Viswanathan Anand, on his home turf Chennai, without suffering defeat in 10 games, of which he won three decisively to take the match 6.5-3.5 points.

Talent at outdoor sport came so naturally to him that it may have been genetically typed. He climbed mountains when he was 11, skied down slopes like a natural and enjoyed himself at tennis, football, basketball and general athletics.


Proficiency at the cerebral game of chess may have come as a surprise to those who saw Magnus grow like any other kid with outdoorsy sporting blood in him in Norway.

His dad, Henrik, saw in his enthusiasm at climbing mountains a metaphor of a boy aiming for the peaks.

Barely eight, Magnus set his eyes on reaching the peak of a mountain range in South Africa. He was not a trained trekker, only a tourist visiting his aunt. Along with his father, the boy trekked up the 3,482-metre tall Drakensberg peak and also scaled another popular hill known as the Cathedral Peak.


“He was a small boy and it was real climbing. The mountains were steep, but he pursued his goal and reached the top,” said his father. “You can surely draw parallels about him scaling the mountains and reaching the pinnacle in his career by winning the world chess championship and staying on top of the ‘Elo’ ratings. I believe that my son is capable of achieving everything that he wants to,” said his doting dad.

Such is Henrik’s belief in Magnus, with history’s highest ever ‘Elo’ rating, achieving whatever he aims at that he thinks if his son changes his mind he can still crack all academic exams and be a top scholar. Of course, Magnus has a few subjects to clear in high school. “He has not been to school for the last five years. He didn’t finish high school and he doesn’t want to finish. But maybe in a few years if he plans to go to university, then he will change his mind and complete the leftover studies at school,” Henrik explained.


The champion of brain-buster chess may have left the world of academia behind but he does keep himself posted on subjects dear to his heart like social studies. “He is updated on all countries in the world, rivers, mountains, capitals, number of inhabitants and so on.

He reads books and also uses internet as a source of information,” Henrik said proudly.

Magnus is an ardent fan of Real Madrid and its Galactico, Cristiano Ronaldo. As chess champion, he may not be in the same income tax bracket as one of the world’s highest paid footballers but the Norwegian has done well for himself as $1.5 million in prize money for the world championship shows. And as Wall Street firms look to him for endorsements, Hollywood may take a shine to his wild boy looks.


Aptly called the Mozart of Chess, he is expected to be the beacon of the modern game in its newest era.

Be it modelling for fashion brand G-Star and posing with supermodel and Lord of the Rings actress Liv Tyler or being a guest on The Colbert Report, an American satirical late night TV programme,

Carlsen lived a life of a celeb even before winning his first world title.

Norwegian GM Simen Agdestein, who spotted the chess talent in Carlsen when he was just nine years old, says anything is possible at the moment for Carlsen. But, how does the mentor see Magnus at the chess board when he seems fidgety, full of grave expressions and even contorts his sporting body into all kinds of postures? “The world No. 1’s expressions might look as if he is suffering while playing the game. But his moves show the genius in him. He has all the ingredients of taking the game to the masses,” he said.


His gestures, perhaps, reflect the tensions geniuses are known to suffer from. But, as Agdestein points out, “Magnus only needs to keep his feet on the ground and an exciting time lies ahead.”