In December 2010, Gary Kasparov had just flown 2,500 kilometers from Moscow to London, England. When at Heathrow Airport, London, the Russian chess legend immediately turned on the cellphone, seeing the fifth round match of the London Chess Classic Tournament between Magnus Carlsen against Vladimir Kramnik, the former world chess champion from Russia.
Kasparov shook his head after seeing the situation of the match. Mentor Magnus then murmured: “Impossible.”
Magnus, who was ranked second in the world, was in a corner. According to Kasparov, the Norwegian chess player could not possibly have survived the defeat. Computer analysis also agreed with Kasparov’s opinion. However, who would have thought the match was over was not as expected. Kasparov’s calculations also missed the computer machine: after 86 steps, Magnus miraculously forced the match to end in a draw.
“Both players continue to swing. Kramnik tested with the minister, Magnus moved the king. They did it three times, making the match automatically end in a draw, “wrote D.T Max, a New Yorker contributor who watched the match live.
Unbelieving in what had just happened, the people who watched the match immediately rained down Magnus with applause. The rescue mission that was far more dramatic than a victory also made Kasparov rectify his words.
“That (Magnus escaped defeat) turned out to really be happening,” Kasparov said with a smile.
A few days after that phenomenal event, Magnus finally succeeded in becoming the champion of the London Chess Classic Tournament, once again ranked 1st in the world. And advancing the next eight years, precisely in the 2018 World Chess Championship, Kasparov, once again, miscalculated the Magnus abilities.
Chess World Champion Four Times in a Row
In the 2018 World Chess Championship, Magnus has become a different chess player. He is no longer a potential chess player, but a chess world champion.
In 2013, he won the title from the hands of Viswanathan Anand, a chess player from India. One year later, facing the same opponent, the Norwegian chess player managed to defend his title. Finally, in 2016, he fought hard enough to defend the title from the shots of Sergey Karjakin, a Russian chess player. At that time, after drawing 6-6 in 12 classic chess matches, Magnus won 3-1 in a fast chess match.
Even so, Magnus’s hope of returning to defend the title was shaky at the hands of Fabiano Caruana, an American chess player who was predicted as Bobby Fischer’s successor. In London, England, where the 2018 Chess World Championship is held, Magnus concentration is no longer as strong as it once was. He made several fatal mistakes. If it does not make it fail to win, that mistake also makes the Norwegian chess player on the brink of defeat.
The course of the first match on November 8, 2018 can be an example. Playing with black chess pieces, opening steps brilliantly, Magnus dominated in the first 34 steps. However, Caruana, who slowed down the game, by thinking longer, apparently managed to lure Magnus to make a mistake.
Magnus insisted on eating pawns in C3 with the minister, igniting pawns in F4 which was actually his advantage. As a result, after competing for seven hours, Caruana managed to force a draw. Magnus pouted after the match ended, while Caruana was relieved.
“Normally you will not feel happy when only able to draw with a white chessman, but considering my position I am clearly happy. I am relieved to be saved, “Caruana said to the Guardian after the match.
In the next match, until the 12th match, Magnus was unable to appear as dominant in the first match. He again failed to maximize the situation in the 9th match and 12th match. The rest, Carauna managed to corner and force Magnus to save in order to avoid defeat.
When he failed to win the 9th match, Magnus did curse himself. The chess player who had received an Elo rating of 2882, the highest in the history of chess, said, “I destroyed it.” However, when he failed to win the 12th match, chess observers predicted that he would lose. An additional match, a rapid chess match, will destroy Magnus to dust. Gary Kasparov predicts that.
“Given the surprising draw from Magnus who is in a superior position and has more time, I reconsider my evaluation that he will win in a rapid match. The extra round requires incredible guts and Magnus has lost it, “whispered Gary Kasparov.
Kasparov’s reason is understandable. In 12 classic chess matches that always ended in a draw, which was the first phenomenon in the chess world championship, Magnus really played without passion. If when using a black piece he usually aims for victory, Magnus does the opposite: play it safe. He is trapped by Caruana’s character who is good at calculating and playing with thoughts.
As a result: 12 matches were almost boring. In one of the matches, Alexander Grischuk, who was a commentator at Chess 24, even asked Peter Svidler for fun to kill boredom, “Peter, what is your favorite Stephen King novel?” Also, when the 2018 Chess World Championship was confirmed to continue to in the extra round, he was also very disappointed by calling “the classic chess match RIP”.
However, the observers turned out to be the wrong address when assessing Magnus. Rapid chess uses the best-of-four format. In one match, each chess player has 25 minutes plus an additional 10 seconds after each step. There, quality talks more than mind games. Besides that, in a fast match, Magnus concentration is still reliable.
Magnus finally managed to bulldoze Caruana without mercy: 3-0. He successfully defended his world title, as well as becoming a world champion four times in a row. Chess observers could only shake their heads, while Kasparov was again forced to correct his words.
“Magnus’s consistency in a fast chess match is phenomenal. We will play poorly as we play faster and faster, but the ratio is the smallest, perhaps only decreasing by 15%. That will be his advantage in this format, “Kasparov said.
On 28 November 2018, Magnus still remained a man who had to be defeated at the next World Chess Championship.
The Meaning of a Champion
As the 2018 Chess World Championship took place, Andrew Keh, the New York Times correspondent from Berlin, went to Oslo, Norway, the birthplace of Magnus Carlsen. He immediately realized that Magnus had a big influence on his country.
“This is the Magnus Effect,” Martin Mortensen, one of the bar employees whose workplace was filled with people playing chess, told Keh. “Almost all Norwegians have a special relationship with chess these days. It shows on television and is in the newspapers all the time. ”
Not to be outdone by Mortensen, Lars Petter Fosdahl, one of the bar owners, then added, “I think Norway is currently the craziest chess country in the world.”
The words of the two Norwegians were later strengthened when Magnus competed against Caruana in the sixth match of the 2018 World Chess Championship. NRK, a Norwegian television channel that broadcasts the match in a format such as a talk show, said that the match was watched by a quarter of television viewers in Norway.
In the 2018 Chess World Championship, the Norwegians believed that when Magnus lost to Caruana, his legacy would keep the Norwegians playing chess. Magnus has made them fall so deeply in love with chess. He is as magical as a soccer star in Brazil or an American football star in America.
However, letters turned out to choose another path. Magnus won and the Norwegians probably understood very well that they still had a double duty: besides continuing to play and fond of chess, they had to keep pushing Magnus to the top.