Mozart, Einstein, Picasso and now…Carlsen?


Photo Courtesy of Forbes

Chess is an intellectual and strategic game that millions of people across the globe play. Almost everyone knows what chess is and sort of how to play it, but do you know who the world chess champion is? Do you know who reached No. 1 in world rankings at 19, who became the world chess champion at 23 and who has held that place for the past eight years? Norway’s own Magnus Carlsen is an underrated genius who deserves more recognition.

Since he was a child, Carlsen behaved like a genius. By the time he was two, he was completing complicated puzzles, and by four he had all 356 Norwegian municipalities memorized. Though childhood success does not necessarily lead to genius, in this case, it did. No one expected him to be the next Einstein or Mozart, but Magnus is the Hawking of chess. 

In today’s world, most major chess players use computer algorithms to determine ways to beat their opponents. But Carlsen is better than those computers. He rules the board through intuition. Today’s top chess players memorize games. They use computers to analyze an opponent’s moves, but Carlsen’s strategy remains an enigma. His brain is beyond what those computers can predict, and he avoids using his own computer as much as possible. Other competitors dislike him for his inconsistent plays which let him compete beyond what can be mapped or pre-programmed. Carlsen’s style of play resulted in a 125 win streak, the longest confirmed unbeaten streak at an elite level.

Beyond his many statistical records, Carlsen is also inspiring other young people to take up the game of chess. When he won the world chess championship, Norway virtually sold out of chess sets. Though the news wasn’t covered much in the United States, his impact on the youth of the chess community is astonishing. He has encouraged children to take up a strategic game that can help them enjoy learning and grow as people.

He is also hilarious. When he was a mere 29-year-old, he began playing online chess under aliases such as “DrDrunkenstein,” “DannytheDonkey” and “DamnSaltyThatSport.” Carlsen would live-stream these online games, revealing the inner workings of his brain and also living up to the name of “DrDrunkenstein.” Eventually, after a streak of lower scores (which ripped my heart out of my chest), he announced that he has stopped drinking and will take competitive chess more seriously. Where most people take winning for seven years straight as a serious accomplishment, his downplaying of the incredible feat makes him even more enchanting. With his carefree and joking attitude, Carlsen is better able to connect with the younger generation. 

Chess is not a mainstream interest (and even I didn’t know a thing about chess until I watched Carlsen’s documentary, which has an 81 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so check it out), but the game has recently surged in popularity, especially with the recent arrival of “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. I’ve learned how gratifying chess is and have a deeper understanding as to why this game has lasted over fourteen centuries. 

As you can see by my strong emotional attachment to this man, I was devastated when I went to watch the well-known chess YouTuber Antonio Radić also known as “agadmator” announced that Carlsen has decided to retire from chess on March 31, 2021. I was shocked and burst into tears. That was until I went to click on the attached article that would supposedly tell me more about this retirement. The most popular chess YouTube channel in the world rick-rolled us for an early April Fools Day prank. 

I, for one, will forever be a Magnus stan and I can assure you that I will be inconsolable if he ever truly retires or loses his title. Magnus Carlsen is a genius and deserves so much more recognition. Long may he reign.