Hi Reddit!

With the FIDE Candidates tournament going on - where my next World Championship competitor will be decided - and the launch of my Play Magnus app, it is good timing to jump online and answer some questions from the Reddit community.

Excited for a round of questions about, well, anything!

I’ll be answering your questions live from Oslo, starting at 10 AM Eastern time / 3 PM Central European Time.

My Proof: * I posted a short video on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vSnytSmUG8) * Updated my official Facebook Accounts (www.facebook.com/magnuschess / www.facebook.com/playmagnus) * Updated my official Twitter Accounts (www.twitter.com/magnuscarlsen / www.twitter.com/playmagnus)

Edit: This has been fun, thanks everyone!

Comments: 3820 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

cbarr812709 karma

Do you ever log onto sites like Chess.com, as an anonymous player, and just crush people for fun?

MagnusOenCarlsen3476 karma

Once in a while I've used some of my friends accounts and won a couple of games... or a lot...

arkofcovenant807 karma

Follow up question; when playing on Chess.com, do you ever run into a particularly tough opponent and think to yourself "I must have at least heard of him" because there are so few people that have even a chance to win against you?

MagnusOenCarlsen1916 karma

You'll be amazed at the people i've lost to while playing online...

pranjie1977 karma

What do you think made you the strongest man in the world?

MagnusOenCarlsen2809 karma


Piano_Frenzy1943 karma

Hey Magnus. Do you see yourself making live commentaries on your YouTube channel? For example, you play a game of blitz chess while commentating why you do this and that.

MagnusOenCarlsen2750 karma

I will definitely consider doing that.

Reffen1687 karma

do you ever struggle playing yourself age 23 in the Play Magnus app? I personally pride myself in beating you at 8 years old.

MagnusOenCarlsen1919 karma

I always struggle playing against Magnus 23. When playing younger "Magnuses" I'm occasionally successful.

koreanknife1193 karma

Hi Magnus,

Back in 2004 you gave a Simul on ICC. I was one of the lucky to get selected to play against you then. We agreed to a draw after 35 moves from a Sicilian Najdorf, English attack. My 2nd greatest chess achievement and an enormous honor to play you.

How serious do you take simuls? Once you leave a board, do you only focus on the next board or do you find yourself still considering previous positions? Do you have certain strategies you aim for, such as do you tend towards more sharp positions for fun and out calculate your opponents, or do you tend towards more positional games and out maneuver to victory?


  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. O-O-O Nxe3 12. Qxe3 Qc7 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. Rxd5 Nc6 16. Bd3 Rad8 17. Rxd8 Rxd8 18. h4 a5 19. a3 a4 20. Nd2 Nd4 21. c3 Nc6 22. Bc2 Na5 23. h5 Bc5 24. Qe2 Qb6 25. Ka2 Be3 26. Ne4 Nb3
  2. Bxb3 Qxb3+ 28. Ka1 f5 29. Qxe3 fxe4 30. Qxe4 Rd1+ 31. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 32. Qb1 Qe2 33. Qa2+ Kf8 34. Qd5 Qxg2 35. Qxb7 Qf1+ {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2

MagnusOenCarlsen1479 karma

Sometimes when I play simuls, I make a mistake on one board and I spend some time being upset about that; but usually I try to move on and focus on the next one.

I take pride in what I do and I always try to do my best and play the best moves - not play for tricks.

It seems our game was pretty positional up until a certain point. You played well.

kalebreath894 karma

What is your favorite chess game of all time?

MagnusOenCarlsen1312 karma

Anand - Kamsky Candidates Match 1994

MagnusOenCarlsen815 karma

Thanks everyone!

coldplayer725 karma

Hi Magnus! I'm a fan from Pakistan. We all know you as a child prodigy. What I wanted to know is whether you had a clear understanding of chess principles, openings and defenses as a child or did the game just naturally make sense to you and you winged it?

MagnusOenCarlsen918 karma

My coach Peter Heine told me that he saw me play as a ten year-old, and gained the impression of someone who knew a lot of theory but couldn't play that well on his own. So, it has been a long process and gradually I have learned more and more about the game.

YOU_ARE_A_FUCK481 karma

I've always wondered; now that you are the best in the world. How can coaches help you get better? Or don't they at all? Is it just up to yourself now to improve?

Ignorer brukernavnet mitt, hehe!

MagnusOenCarlsen985 karma

Most of all it is up to myself to improve because even the best coaches don't fully understand what's going on in my mind - haha

Alijas637 karma

How many beers would you need to drink for a Master to be able to beat you?

MagnusOenCarlsen2129 karma

There is no answer to this question... even extremely intoxicated my chess strength and knowledge is still in my bones.

BetelgeuseSC514 karma

Magnus, What was your most memorable/important victory and what was your most memorable defeat.

MagnusOenCarlsen875 karma

My most memorable victory was in the Norwegian Championship Under 11, when I was 9 years old.

Defeat: perhaps my loss to Ivanchuk in the Candidates last year, although fortunately that story had a happy ending.

shakedrizzle491 karma

If you could play any historic chess player in their prime, who would it be?

MagnusOenCarlsen773 karma

There are many options, but the first that comes to mind is Kasparov & Fischer, as well as Capablanca.

bobthebobd474 karma

How good were you in general classes in school. Like math, sciences, etc. I'm wondering if genius in chess translates to exceptional performance in all academics.

MagnusOenCarlsen958 karma

I think to be successful in anything, at least for me, you need to focus and spend time to get knowledge and understanding of different subjects. When I did that in school, I did very well. When I spent more time on chess than on school, I did less well.

perrii411 karma

Hi! What do you think of Nakamura joking with calling you Sauron on Twitter?

MagnusOenCarlsen2184 karma

I've never actually watched Lord of the Rings... if I had, and Nakamura had been a better chess player, I might have been more insulted.

Jester_Don379 karma

Hi Magnus! Just wondering what is your favorite unorthodox opening?

MagnusOenCarlsen813 karma

I don't play an orthodox openings. I prefer to give mainstream openings my own spin.

Sonata2348 karma

Hi Magnus! Even though you were International Master and Grandmaster early on, did you ever feel like you have plateaued with your game, that you did not think you could get better, or did you always know that you could be the best player ever? And if you did think you could not get better, how did you get better?

MagnusOenCarlsen524 karma

Times when I was struggling, I always kept a very positive mindset. I thought that things would turnaround in the next game, or the next tournament. Eventually it did.

As for plateaued, I still feel that I have plenty to learn. It's just about translating more knowledge into better play and better results.

mike143708323 karma

Thanks for doing the IamA, Magnus! I've recently gotten really interested in chess so this is exciting for me!

  • When you play a game, how many variations are you going over in your head? How many moves out do you usually visualize?
  • What's the biggest blunder you've made since reaching GM status?
  • When you look at a chess board, are you thinking about individual pieces or the whole board? Is it anything like a speed reader, who sees "the whole page" rather than reading word by word?


MagnusOenCarlsen494 karma

I usually consider from 1 -3 different moves and then the variations can be either fairly short or 15 - 20 moves if necessary.

Blunder: it's hard to say I've blundered Queens, rooks, minor pieces and pawns and check mates. Take your pick.

I see the whole "page"

R3ADIT293 karma

Hi Magnus, Welcome to reddit and thanks for doing AMA!

Is perfect chess a draw or win for white? What do you think?

MagnusOenCarlsen440 karma

I don't know, but I am very much leaning towards a draw.

tundrawolf250 karma

Do you think you will be able to break the 2900 barrier in the next few years?

MagnusOenCarlsen459 karma

If I keep up my level and improving, I think I have a good chance. It's not a goal in itself, if I play well, it happens.

LittlePeasant229 karma

Time Controls are a big debate in the chess world. If it were up to you, would you make chess more spectator-friendly by reducing time controls or would you keep them where they are at the moment?

MagnusOenCarlsen346 karma

I think the currently classical time control is a good one, it gives plenty of time to think and come up with good ideas, while still keeping the excitement for viewers.

nmpraveen191 karma

Hi Carlsen, First let me thank you for starting a channel in Youtube and your really well made app 'Play Magnus'

Recently you subscribed to ChessNetwork on youtube. What do you think of his videos because his 1min bullet games get a lot of attention in reddit like this and this?

When you are bored, do you play in any online chess websites?

MagnusOenCarlsen189 karma

Unfortunately I haven't had time to see many of the videos.

Yes, I play online chess in the past quite a bit on the ICC and a bit on playchess.com

it_isnt_everyday175 karma

What's the biggest problem facing the world of competitive chess right now?

MagnusOenCarlsen361 karma

There are some good things happening right now, but I think there can be improvement in presenting the game so that it can reach a broader audience, draw more sponsors and thus have a more stable tournament cycle.

lmarianiti174 karma

Hey Magnus! Any tips for a beginner chess player? I'd like to hear from the master.

MagnusOenCarlsen282 karma

Play Magnus! Check out my videos on the app.

Sirkama165 karma


MagnusOenCarlsen331 karma

I don't know... I've been into chess for such a long time, so I haven't really had a chance to think about it

kalebreath148 karma

What's your favorite chess book? Favorite non-chess book?

MagnusOenCarlsen568 karma

Chess book: Kramnik: My Life & Games made a strong impression on my as a child

Non-chess book: close race between several Donald Duck comics (seriously).

blackberry_throw123 karma

I noticed on your Twitter account that you are closely following the 2014 Candidates tournament. Are there any games or positions that have struck you as particularly interesting or beautiful?

MagnusOenCarlsen365 karma

I was impressed by Anand's win against Aronian in the first round. It's not often that you beat the number 2 player in the world purely by technique.

fra403119 karma

Hey Magnus, let me just start and say that i'm a really big fan.

I'm trying to break the 2000 barrier and I was wondering if you could give me any advice to achieve my goal.

Thanks for doing an AMA!

MagnusOenCarlsen247 karma

Studying tactics, I would say. Up to that level, most games are still decided by someone hanging a piece...or blundering a checkmate - haha

LeonardoFibonacci111 karma

Hey Magnus! Thanks so much for doing this. I'm a big fan.

  • Do you like any chess variants? I know Chess960 is reasonably popular among high-level players, but what about more off-the-wall stuff like fairy chess?

  • What about board games other than chess?

  • Is there a specific player against whom you particularly enjoy playing?

  • What's your favorite thing that's ever happened to you at a tournament on or off the board?

MagnusOenCarlsen157 karma

My second in the world championship Jon Ludvig Hammer is a huge fan of three checks and he has tried to teach me some of the finer points of the game so far in vain.

I really enjoyed Monopoly as a child. I played it all the time with my sisters.

I generally enjoy playing against the best in the world.

IAmAQuantumMechanic98 karma

Heisann Magnus,

Are there any other games you're particularily good at? Strategy games?

MagnusOenCarlsen437 karma

No I basically suck at everything else...

tundrawolf93 karma

Have you ever played anonymous blitz online?

MagnusOenCarlsen186 karma

Yes, numerous times.

Qulijah79 karma

Will you ever play against the houdini engine? And do you think you would be able to beat it?

MagnusOenCarlsen225 karma

No, and no. I only play against Magnus 23.

Spmsl72 karma

Hi. I see a lot of people asking this question on /r/chess and I'm curious about it as well.

Most amazing chess players and GMs that you hear about all started at a very young age, and were often very talented at that age. How much of an impact do you think starting at a young age has? Do you think it's possible to become a master after having started later in life? Is it so rare?


MagnusOenCarlsen120 karma

I think in order to be one of the best in the world, you need to start early on and have a passion and great drive to learn more. In order to become a Master or an International Master, I think you can start later and it's more about putting in the time and hard work rather than talent.

Australian_AMA60 karma

Hey Magnus, You have been one of the major reason why I have gotten back into watching chess again.

My questions is: What is your favorite European football team, and who do you think will win the World Cup?

Cheers man.

MagnusOenCarlsen154 karma

I'm assuming you're referring to soccer? I think I'm going to be "original" and pick Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany in the semi-finals ... anything can happen from there.

TheZenDom56 karma

Hello Magnus,

  1. What are your thoughts on the ongoing Candidates 2014? Does Vishy winning make it easier for you or do you have another favourite in the tournament? I ask because judging from your tweets, you don't really hold Anand in the highest regard :)

  2. What is your response to the general idea that you are too much of a grinder? A great many number of people have said that you specialize in squeezing out dry positions rather than playing attacking chess. Many GMs have called your style of chess as its death in some aspects.

MagnusOenCarlsen127 karma

  1. No, it didn't have anything to do with Anand, I'm very impressed by his level of preparation and general play both tactically and technically so far in the Candidates.

  2. I think it's an important trait of a good player to be able to have the same level of focus and creativity in simple positions as well as more complicated ones and thus create chances at any point in the game. I don't think making few mistakes and playing very accurately for a long time should be a negative.

too_weak_too_slow55 karma

What makes a good second and why did you pick the ones you did?

MagnusOenCarlsen130 karma

Basically two things: 1. Being good at chess 2. Getting along well with me

BetelgeuseSC38 karma

How has your life changed since winning the World Championship? Has it become more difficult to stay motivated?

MagnusOenCarlsen123 karma

My approach to tournaments has not changed that much, even before the World Championship I was the best player in the world, so in that sense it's the same and I am the one to beat. I have the confidence that I can always do well.

sigtot32 karma

What is your favorite meal, and what do you eat before a match?

MagnusOenCarlsen60 karma

I don't have a favorite meal, but before the match I would usually eat an omelette or a some yogurt with fruit.

anterab28 karma

There's a pretty large age gap beetwen you and the 2014 Candidates participants Do you think that's to your advantage? Also of the younger Grandmasters who do you see as a future threat to the World title?

MagnusOenCarlsen55 karma

I think players like Anand, Kramnik, Topalov and Svidler are part of a very strong generation of players, so it's kind of natural that they're still sticking around.

To the second question: I think it is very early to say who will be a future threat, it's really hard to see those traits before players are fully developed.

itsmeagainguys23 karma

(1) what do you think of the games / commentary of chessexplained / kingcrusher / curtains on youtube?

(2) How do you train? what do you think is the best way to improve as a chess player?

(3) Are there still aspects of chess that humans do better than computers? How good does a computer have to be to beat the best humans? Could my cell phone do it? If a computer disagrees with you, do you always think that the computer must be right?

(4) Why do master players online play so much blitz? Why not lengthy games?

(5) How do you think Fischer would do against top players like yourself, Carlsen, or Kasparov? How would Morphy do?

(6) Who are your favorite players throughout history and who do you think are the best players?

MagnusOenCarlsen35 karma

Training: it's mostly by thinking about chess, which happens all the time. More concretely, about opening analysis and tactical exercises.

Blitz online: playing long games online just takes too much time. It's fun to play blitz once in a while, where you can rely more on your intuition, your instincts rather than pure calculation and analysis.

SleeplessinOslo14 karma

Hey Magnus Do have have any other plans or goals you want to achieve? You've conquered chess, what next?

MagnusOenCarlsen50 karma

I don't think I've conquered chess yet. I still have very much to learn and there is much room for improvement, so I think I'll stick to that for a while.