November 06, 2012 16:00

And the 2011 Chess Oscar went to... Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen wins Oscar 2011Magnus Carlsen won the 2010 Chess Oscar. The prize

Magnus Carlsen won the 2011 Chess Oscar. The prize is a result of votes by international chess journalists and awarded by Russian chess magazine 64. Carlsen is the first player in history to win three Oscars in a row.

The October issue of chess magazines 64 revealed that Magnus Carlsen won the Chess Oscar for 2011. It wasn't a big surprise, since the Norwegian finished first in four tournaments: Bazna/Medias (shared with Karjakin), Biel, Sao Paulo/Bilbao and Moscow. He finished third in Wijk aan Zee and in London.

Boris Gelfand finished second in the list, mostly because of his victory at the Candidates tournament in Kazan, where he qualified for the World Championship match against Anand. Levon Aronian came third, also for the third time in a row. He finished equal with Carlsen twice: at the Tal Memorial and in Wijk aan Zee and he won the last edition of the Amber tournament.

Peter Svidler finished in fourth place by winning the Russian Championship with a round to spare and then also the World Cup, defeating Caruana, Kamsky, Polgar, Ponomariov and Grischuk. Kramnik won Dortmund, Hoogeveen and London but only came fifth. Grischuk (sixth) lost two big finals in 2011: the Candidates and the World Cup.

Ivanchuk is a regular guest in the top 10 and this time he finished 7th. He won the Capablanca memorial and came third at the Tal Memorial. His most important achievement was his third place in the World Cup, and so he's one of the participants of the London Candidates in March 2013.

World Champion Vishy Anand had mixed results in 2011 and finished in eighth place. He did well in Wijk aan Zee (second behind Nakamura) and was successful in rapid and blitz (Botvinnik Memorial, Corsica) but didn't do well at the Tal Memorial and in London.

Alexander Morozevich returned into the top 10 as the winner of the Russian Championship Higher League and the tournament in Saratov, his second place in the Russian Championship Superfinal and in Biel.

Hikaru Nakamura finished in tenth place thanks to winning the Tata Steel tournament and a second place in London. The other places were 11. Karjakin, 12.Radjabov, 13. Kamsky, 14. Le Quang Liem, 15. Caruana. Gashimov, Giri, Wang Hao, Nepomniachtchi, Polgar, Ponomariov, Potkin, Topalov and Hou Yifan were also nominated.

The Chess Oscar was first awarded in 1967 to another Scandinavian, the legendary Bent Larsen. It was awarded uninterrupted until the year 1988, and then it was revived in 1995 by Alexander Roshal and his magazine 64. The final list is based on votes by well known trainers, international arbiters, grandmasters and journalists.

Carlsen is the first player who won the prize three times in a row. Garry Kasparov holds the record for winning the Oscar 11 times; Anatoly Karpov won it 9 times.

Speaking of Carlsen, we might as well mention the following funny news item. Last Saturday the Oslo Schakselskap chess club organized a blitz tournament, and guess who decided to join?

It was a small event with only 27 participants, and obviously there was never any doubt about who would win the tournament. Carlsen in fact won all his twelve games. The excitement was mainly about the second place. GM Simen Agdestein, who coached Carlsen for many years and wrote a book about him, came closest to the winner with nine points, while another GM, Leif Johannessen, only came sixth with 6.5 points.

Carlsen's photo isn't between the Word Champions on the wall yet, but who cares
when he actually plays in the local blitz event? :-) | Photo by 
Olga Dolzhykova, more here

Oslo Schakselskap Blitz 2012 | Final standings

Rank Name Rating Points Perf
1 Magnus Carlsen 2849 12.0 2593
2 Simen Agdestein 2535 9.0 2386
3 Lars Oskar Hauge 2176 8.0 2294
4 Kaloyan Kostadinov 1995 8.0 2219
5 Atle Grønn 2385 7.5 2267
6 Leif E Johannessen 2515 7.5 2229
7 Øystein Bøyum Fossum 2160 7.5 2177
8 Odin Blikra Vea 2210 6.5 2127
9 Roar Elseth 2261 6.5 2188
10 Tarjei Joten Svensen 2011 6.5 2029
11 Thomas Kr. Børstad 1814 6.5 1690
12 John Olav Kroken 1252 6.5 1737
13 Cornelius Kvendseth 1374 6.5 1662
14 Evgenij Kulikov 2140 6.0 2264
15 Ørnulf Stubberud 2328 6.0 2054
16 Kjell Børre Grebstad 1949 6.0 2053
17 Martin Valla 2085 6.0 1884
18 Olga Dolzhikova 2210 6.0 1825
19 Kimia Moradi 1930 6.0 1612
20 Andreas G Tryggestad 1549 5.5 1963
21 Christian Harstad 1932 5.5 1802
22 Eskil Ekeland Grønn 1597 5.5 1626
23 Tormod Clausen 1603 5.0 1564
24 Eivind Olav Risting 1502 4.5 1499
25 Siamak Tari 1317 4.5 1454
26 Erik Løveid 0 2.0 1282
27 Embla Eikeland Grønn 714 1.0 1225

In the comments under the article on the chess club website it is mentioned that Carlsen hadn't played in this tournament since 2004, when he was 13. Back then he also finished first ahead of Agdestein. :-) 

Update 7 November 2012, 09:45 CET: "Carlsen is the first player in history to win three Oscars in a row" should have been "Carlsen is the first player in history to win three Oscars in a row since Alexander Roshal revived the Chess Oscar in 1995."

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


redivivo's picture

At least it was the first time since the 1980s that someone won the Chess Oscar three years in a row. I guess they can give Carlsen his fourth in a row already next month, considering that he has won the two strongest tournaments in 2012 and reached his biggest distance ever to #2 and is just three points behind Kasparov's 2851 record.

James Pack's picture

I personally feel that Caruana is in with a pretty good shout for this. Besides his tournament results, he's beaten Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Ivanchuck (to name but a few). His rating increase over the last year has been stratospheric. I wouldn't cry if Carlsen won it, he is te bast player in the World right now, there's no doubt about that, but Caruana is still a junior and journalists love a good prodigy story. ;)

Aditya's picture

Surprising that they announce the Oscar so late. I mean, it's the end of 2012 already! When I read through the events they seemed like far back in the past. They should try and give the award by March at least.

redivivo's picture

Indeed, looks like the Russians just got bored with the whole thing lately, it used to be awarded in March-April.

Thomas's picture

Apparently something went wrong with the voting procedure for whichever reason: Whychess mentions that many journalists received their ballot papers only in May - i.e. during the world championship match which might contribute to Gelfand's high score (even if they were supposed to consider only results from 2011).

Morley's picture

Looks like 4 in a row is in order. Congrats to Carlsen, can't wait for London.

redivivo's picture

Since the Chess Oscar is awarded to "the best chess player of the year", I wonder how many players have a strong claim to have been the best chess player in the world four years in a row.

According to Jeff Sonas only Kasparov and Karpov have been the strongest player in the world four years in a row (not that I agree with him with regards to for example Lasker and Alekhine, but it says something about how difficult it is):

Anonymous's picture

Obviously Karpov and Kasparov are the big reason in that being rare. They were best in the world for 10 years or more. More clearly than Carlsen by the way but I hope he will fix that and wins a really important tourney like the candidates soon.

PircAlert's picture

We are seeing a competition nowadays that drove the so called greats into early premature retirement! The only player Carlsen considers close to be called his favorite player is Anand! Anand was simply was unmatchable which could not be hidden even after sustained efforts by the promoters of Kasparov or chess money making brands. The on-going efforts against him is what makes Anand even greater. I wonder if Kasparov, Karpov will be in all time top 10?

columbo's picture

amazing performance by Carlsen ... Congratulations !

boardgame's picture

Did chessvibes or chessbase get 2nd to 10th place wrong?

Corrector's picture

Carlsen vs Anand was pretty close in 2010. I think Chessbase has used 2010 votes instead of 2011 votes.

silvakov's picture

Certainly chessvibes got the right results for the 2011 chess oscar, not chessbase. But the info Carlsen is the first to win 3 in a row is only true for the period 64 magazine is controlling the award (or since its reinstallment in 1995).

boardgame's picture

Ok, thanks, typical for chessbase, though. They don't seem to put half the effort into their articles as chessvibes does.

Ruben's picture

I think Carlsen can better go for the World Championship then for a chess Oscar.

aun1's picture

wow, the people voting must have really had something against kramnik. in my opinion he did better than carlsen last year, having won tournaments outright, as opposed to magnus winning shared first and getting the nod due to arbitrary tie-breakers (bazna, bilbao, and moscow).

redivivo's picture

Kramnik did better than Carlsen? He finished 8-9th with a winless -2 in the strongest tournament that Carlsen won, he was 5th in Wijk and 3-5th in the Russian Superfinal, didn't win one of his 16 classical/rapid games in the Candidates and was second to last in Amber. He did win London after beating 2600s only and Hoogeveen ahead of Giri + Dortmund ahead of Le but those events were quite weak compared to those events Carlsen won.

The "arbitrary tiebreak" Carlsen won Bilbao on was the minimatch he won after scoring +2 while Ivanchuk was +1 and Aronian and Anand had an even score. He won Biel outright ahead of Morozevich and then Tal Memorial with +2 as Aronian where Gelfand and Kramnik were -2 and Anand had an even score, and then also Bazna undefeated with +3 as Karjakin. Carlsen performed 2815+ in every event and won the only decisive classical game against Kramnik (scoring 3-1 with all time controls while being black in the majority of their games).

So I don't think the mainly Russian jury had something against Kramnik for seeing Carlsen's year as better, to me it was clearly better and it isn't too strange that Svidler was ranked ahead of Kramnik too after winning both World Cup and Russian Superfinal.

Thomas's picture

I won't question first place for Carlsen, but fifth place for Kramnik seems like a joke - the other joke is that Karjakin didn't even make the top10 and ended up behind Nakamura.

Kramnik's Dortmund score may have been the most impressive _single_ result of the entire year (relevant is 7/9 before the last round, his subsequent loss against Nakamura didn't matter for the final standings). With Nakamura (2770) and Ponomariov (2764) it wasn't exactly a weak event. In Hoogeveen he was the favorite, but how much "noise" was made around Nakamura's identical result this year versus a somewhat weaker field? In London, "beating only 2600s" is technically wrong (Adams had 2734, Short and McShane were also 'potential' 2700ers), and in any case he did better than Carlsen, Aronian, Anand and Nakamura.

Overall, the Oscar is also a popularity contest - journalists generally seem to agree with what's written in chess forums (do they follow and consider comments here and elsewhere?). Only for Gelfand, journalists seem to disagree with amateurs?

BTW, does anyone know who exactly was invited to vote? Is the jury indeed "mainly Russian" and to which extent (50%, 80%, ?).

PircAlert's picture

Congratulations Carlsen! (Nice person!)

AAR's picture

"Last Saturday the Oslo Schakselskap chess club organized a blitz tournament, and guess who decided to join?"

I wish GM Anand played in any of the Indian tournaments. Its more than a decade since he played in India. Not sure whats the reason.

Government has feliciated him with more than 20million INR, a house and a plot and much more still he doesnt even repays it by atleast visiting any of the local tournaments when he is here.

Anonymous's picture

Just shut up. Advice for you--become worlds best player, travel India's vast continent and go play the locals. Be quick, Anand has around ten good years left at the very top!

AAR's picture

Coward anonymous, MC is the worlds best player.

sweetsucess's picture

If FIDE ranking and chess oscar is the only criteria to be called worlds best player,then why should conduct world champsion cycle,let fide scrap it.let see how MC performs from here and how anand comes back from recent dip in form .If anand continues to play like this for another 6 months then i don't have any hope on him
from a die hard anand's fan.

redivivo's picture

The World Championship cycle is to get a World Champion, but I wonder if the 6-6 between Anand and Gelfand really says much about who the best player in the world is, considering also the minimatch knockout qualification system. Anand hasn't played well enough to be ranked as the best player in the world at the moment, as I see it.

RealityCheck's picture

Open your eyes just a little wider. You'll see that Chess Oscars and FIDE rankings take a back seat to the World Championship. The governing body holds a wc-cycle because the demand for a man-to-man contest is still paramount.

I know common sense is at an all time low but.......If you were throwing more than an opinion around you'd be holding back, waiting to see how MC performs at the up-coming candidates tournament and, if he wins, waiting to see can he unseat the world champion. Can he take Vishy's crown without the help of the "point donors"? You know, the lower rated guys and the politicians like Short who get invited to these events despite their chronic bad form when it comes to competing against the elite.

As regards "the best player": according to who? redivivo? LOL Try to understand the concept of the world champion. It embodies more than winning a few tournaments during the year.

redivivo's picture

No amount of creative thinking can make Anand the best player in the world to anyone looking at his games from the last years. He has been incapable of winning even a single game against 2700s except the one where Gelfand played the opening blunder of his life.

Anonymous's picture

Because even though he was born in India he prefers to live in Spain. That is just the hard truth.

Anonymous's picture

Magnus Carlsen, 2849, with 12/12 "only had" a 2593 performance. Perhaps you should just put "undefined" or similar in such cases of perfectly good or perfectly bad results in the future. I suppose 12/12 is 50% likely if you have a ~94.4% chance of winning every game. If you assume that the remaining ~5.6% of games are always draws then you end up with a ~97.2% expected score in each game. This should mean a 615.8-point "overperformance" relative to the ratings of his opponents (or 600.5-point if you shift 0.5% of that draw chance into loss chance), so was his average opposition rated ~2000? I'm using the Elo formula rather than a table, by the way, and of course thus have no 400-point rule or whatever it is now.

Anonymous's picture

Obama wins again.

Peter Doggers's picture

Update: "Carlsen is the first player in history to win three Oscars in a row" should have been "Carlsen is the first player in history to win three Oscars in a row since Alexander Roshal revived the Chess Oscar in 1995." We used 64's own announcement article, and for them that extra sentence was probably pretty obvious. smiley

RG13's picture

Yes, because Karpov won it five years in a row;
1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 and Kasparov won it four years in a row; 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988.

redivivo's picture

Kasparov would have won it many more years in a row if they hadn't made that break after 1988.

Wallace's picture

Well, 2012 is also the year of an impressive jump by Caruana. It isn't Carlsen's yet!!

silvakov's picture

Okay, Caruana had a nice climb, but he eventually lost in the showdown against Carlsen himself. And Carlsen continues to win almost every tourney he plays in, not to mention the climbing himself did in the ratings chart. If he doesn't get his 4th oscar in a row, that will be a big surprise...

redivivo's picture

Yes, Caruana had a great year, but I don't think he has been the best chess player in the world in 2012. Carlsen won the strongest tournaments (ahead of Caruana) and keeps increasing his lead on the rating list so I'd be surprised if the jury gives Caruana the nod.

Thomas's picture

As far as classical games are concerned, Carlsen scored half a point more than Caruana in their three joint events (tied in Wijk aan Zee, advantage Carlsen in Tal Memorial, tied before blitz tiebreak in Bilbao). In a fourth parallel event, Caruana winning in Dortmund should be worth more than Calsen not winning Biel.

I guess Carlsen will win the next Oscar because he was slightly (but only slightly) better overall than Caruana, and because he has a solid fanbase among journalists. Proof: noone or hardly anyone criticized Carlsen's questionable actions: inviting himself to Biel at the expense of Dominguez and skipping the Olympiad despite getting lots of money as ambassador of the next Olympiad. But Caruana should at least be favorite for second place, and some individual voters may put him ahead of Carlsen.

Anonymous's picture


redivivo's picture

I don't believe much in the idea about Carlsen winning Chess Oscars because it is a popularity contest and the journalists are Carlsen fans, just look at all previous winners and it's hard to criticise one single pick. Maybe Toaplov could have won it in 1996 and Karpov in 1978 but that's it. Carlsen's "questionable actions" like not playing the Olympiad is hardly much to complain about, he has played it much more often than Kramnik, Anand etc.

sweetsucess's picture

when will nakumura win his first chess oscar ? any guesses ?

RG13's picture

He will have to find again that form that won him Tata Steel 2011 and sustain that through an entire year.

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