World #1 Magnus Carlsen visits the Bay Area
By Tom Langland   
November 28, 2012
On the way to Mexico, world #1 rated player Magnus Carlsen made a couple of stops in California.  He met such notables as musician Fred Durst and had lunch with Art Levinson the chairman of the board of Apple.  He also took the time to show off his chess skills in the San Francisco Bay area.

He played a quick blitz game with local chess prodigy, and U-12 World Champion, Daniel Naroditsky. He then did a studio interview with Silicon Valley Bank's Aaron Gershenerg.  He spoke about how difficult it was to achieve his excellence in the game.  Later, he did reflect upon a moment in time, right before he became a Grandmaster when all of his training allowed him to suddenly see everything at a new level. 


Next, in an event organized by both the Silicon Valley Bank and the America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C), Magnus enthralled a crowd of 100 visitors, keen to watch a blindfold simultaneous exhibition by the Grandmaster.   Held at the SVB World Headquarters in Santa Clara, youth players Elias Nasr, Reka Sztary, Agnes William and Anirudh Seela were the lucky four young players in attendance to be selected to play Magnus.
Reka was thrilled about being selected-she has a poster of Magnus on her door at home.  Reka had just switched to using the French Defense, and in her game, Reka castled queenside, which allowed Magnus to sacrifice the exchange on c6 and develop a quick mating attack. Elias fell prey to Magnus's Kingside fianchettoed bishop attacking his queenside rook on a8 along an open diagonal.  Magnus's highest rated foe was Anirudh at 1835, who kept the game score. 


Anirudh tried to play conservatively, hoping that he could manage a draw against the topmost player in the World.   Anirudh said he felt tense with the pressure of the simul, but excited throughout the game.

magnus_autographing_boards.jpgAfter winning all four games in a short 15 minutes, Magnus autographed the boards for the contestants as well as several other chess sets donated by the AF4C that were raffled off.   During the autograph session, Magnus remembered which game was Anirudh's and suggested to him that he should have played 5. ... d5.

Magnus graciously took questions from young chess admirers in the crowd.  When asked about what he does when he is not playing chess, he said he enjoys playing soccer, and was on a team when he was 16 or 17.  Magnus shared that he does not mind spending a lot of time to playing and studying chess because he still finds the game fun and enjoyable. Questioned about his favorite opening, he said he didn't necessarily have one in particular, but he does have many games with the Ruy Lopez both with white and black.  He finds there are many chances for both sides with that opening, as well as the ability to generate complicated positions from the beginning, without having to play forcing lines.

When asked who his favorite player was, Magnus revealed that he doesn't really have one.  He tries not to emulate any particular player, but tries to learn from the contemporary champions as those from the past.  He feels that if you have just one favorite player, it gives you too narrow a view of the game to become one of the best.

From the archives: A US Chess Scoop video on Magnus Carlsen vs. the World in 2010.