Reports | August 31, 2012 16:46

Magnus Carlsen in New York – a big pictorial report

Magnus Carlsen teaching and having fun in the Big Apple

Between August 19th and 30th Magnus Carlsen and his manager Espen Agdestein spent a long week in New York. Carlsen was at the Chess NYC's Summer Camp for some days, where he played and trained with kids of different strength, and later he met with several interesting figures, including Ken Rogoff and George Soros. Here's big pictorial report. 

Carlsen and Agdestein arrived in New York City on August 19th. As was agreed almost a year ago, Magnus would spend five days at the Chess NYC Summer Camp to play and train with their kids. Chess NYC is an organization that promotes chess in New York City, running tournaments, offering lessons, and developing merchandise that represents their vision.

As Agdestein told us via Skype, Magnus liked the idea to work with kids. He never did it before in an organized manner. Besides, he enjoys New York a lot and has lots of friends and relations there now.

The event was attended by several hundreds of kids and lots of parents, who were all very excited to meet the world's highest rated player. There were different sessions with Magnus because everyone was divided in seven groups of different level. The session with the youngest children (from about 7 years old) was mostly about inspiration, taking pictures and getting to talk with Magnus, but the stronger groups actually did serious training where Magnus showed some of his games. There were also blitz sessions and simuls.

Carlsen's visit to New York was announced in the August issue of Chess Life...

...and special banners had been created and put up

...which would later form the background for games like this one. Who's the prodigy?

How can you not feel at home here?

Teaching the youngest kids some good opening moves...

...about the center, the long range of the bishops...

...have them play out some positions...

...and demonstrate a thing or two at the demo board

On another day the teacher was wearing a proper shirt

There were also sessions with a laptop...

...during lessons for older and stronger kids

One of the more serious sessions, surely highly instructive

A simul against the Number One

Obviously some blitz had to be played as well!


Naturally kibitzing was allowed

That king position looks scary, even on such a colorful board

Irinia Krush also attened the event and played a few games with Magnus

Ehm... I'm playing Magnus Carlsen... what do I play?

The "fast play" system

Lots of pics were taken...

...and signatures signed

A group photo to end with

There was also an "adults night"  for parents and other enthusiasts, which included a simul

After the Chess NY event, Carlsen and Agdestein stayed in New York some more. Among other things, they enjoyed playing basketball in the park.

A bit of physical excercise at the court at 76th Street

We recognize the outfit from the Bazna 2011 tournament, where sponsor Romgaz had made soccer outfits for all the players

On August 26th, Carlsen and Agdestein also had lunch with none other than George Soros at his summer house in The Hamptons on Long Island. Soros (82) is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, philosopher and philanthropist and known as "The Man Who Broke the Bank of England" because of his US$1 billion in investment profits during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. Soros also played a significant role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in Hungary (1984–89).

L-R Magnus Carlsen, Espen Agdestein, Richard Conn, George Soros

Soros also has a special interest in chess and during the five hours that were spent, many chess stories were exchanged. Soros explained that he learnt the game in 1944 when Hungary was occupied by the Germans and there was not much to do. He kept a love for the game ever since, and showed to be a decent player himself.

Richard Conn was there as well. Conn is a successful lawyer who used to be campaign manager when Anatoly Karpov ran for FIDE President in 2009-2010. During that period, Conn took half a year off to work for Karpov and Kasparov. He is also a chess enthusiast, and was the one who organized the lunch.

Later in the week Carlsen and Agdestein also attended a Yankees baseball game

One of the last events in New York was a diner at 3 Michelin star restaurant Per se, sponsored by Arctic Securities. There Carlsen and Agdestein met with another big name: Ken Rogoff. Currently a Professor at Harvard, Rogoff is also a chess grandmaster. Early in his career, Rogoff served as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He later served as Economic Counsellor and Director, Research Department of the IMF.

At the restaurant, Carlsen and Rogoff played a 5-minute blitz game and in fact the Harvard Professor showed that he hasn't lost his chess skills: he managed to draw the game!

Ken Rogoff vs Magnus Carlsen: 1/2-1/2

We thank Arctic Securities, Espen Agdestein and especially Chess NYC for providing the photos and info. You can find more at the Chess NYC Facebook page.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Mauli's picture

Thats why I like this man!

Mike's picture

Working with kids makes him very sympathetic, I like him too, he is not arrogant, no bad habits - just friendly to everyone. Typical norwegian.

Thomas 's picture

I guess many GMs would be willing and able to do something similar - for example, van Wely wanted to give a chess camp in the USA but couldn't, and Anand did something related in Los Angeles. Those who aren't fluent in English can still do it in other countries.
The difference is that they (even Anand) don't get as big a pictorial report based on material provided by the organizers, their sponsor and their manager. Note that I don't criticize Carlsen - or only if this prevented him from playing the Olympiad - it just isn't all that special. No need to fly in Carlsen for "teaching the youngest kids some good opening moves" (1.e4 e5 2.Qh5) - Nakamura could do the same! :)

Stemcell's picture


Agree to a large extent that ' they don't get as big a pictoria reprort....' but Chessbase ran a pretty decent article about Anand visiting Hawaii...infact they ran two parts ( which i am sure you must have noticed).

Susan's polgar blog also keeps a good track of what the top five are doing in between tournaments.

But clearly Magnus is rated one on FIDE, and the big fact that he is from the it makes him way denying that and special is what everyone is looking for.

Thomas 's picture

I was commenting on the comments. What's special about Carlsen? Not necessarily that he spends time with kids - others do or might do the same if they had such an opportunity. Hardly anyone might do it for free (at least not a whole week plus travelling), but many would probably do it for less money than Carlsen.
Is it special that Carlsen is #1? Yes, by definition. Is it special that he is from the West? No, there's also van Wely and many others.

And I was referring to Chessvibes - Chessbase has a long legacy of "big pictorial reports", for example also whenever Tiviakov plays some tournament somewhere and sends them photos. I am not saying that it's "wrong" for Chessvibes to publish such a story in such a way, only that it is unusual if not unprecedented by their standards.

Finally, it's probably unfair to suggest that Carlsen did the whole thing primarily for money and publicity. Probably he really enjoyed it (if not he is a good actor), put it that way: he is in a privileged position earning money from doing things he likes to do.

Stemcell's picture

' Is it special that he is from the West? No, there's also van Wely and many others.'

In my opinion van Wely is a Van Damme equivalent in chess as Magnus is to Brad Pitt. Famous but not Stars.
Agreed that Chessvibes leans towards Magnus in a way, and i would be happy to see them covering the top 5-10 players a bit more that what they do now.

Magnus will continue to rule with the media world ( maybe chess also) for a long time.....

Yes's picture

"In my opinion van Wely is a Van Damme equivalent in chess as Magnus is to Brad Pitt. Famous but not Stars."

Exactly :) (and with all due respect to van Wely)

Anonymous's picture

But chess is the real winner, isn't it?

Septimus's picture

Yeah, any hobo off the street can teach e4-e5, but that is not the point is it?

S3's picture

Not shaking hands and taking back moves are bad habits of course. But this is nicely marketed. Loads of pictures helping sweet little kids ( I wonder what their parents had to pay, on chess news i read something like 300 dollar ) but no pics of the hordes of paying suits. Meanwhile Norway is losing 0-4 at the Olympiad. Nothing symphatetic about this.

Zeblakob's picture

@S3, I can see you in one of the pictures above.

Septimus's picture


Yes's picture

He's being taught how to move the pawns and how to press the button on the clock :)

Yes's picture

Kudos to Carlsen!

Look at this page BTW:

Pretty cool being photographed like this, playing against #1. And Carlsen must have played hundreds of games.

Anonymous's picture

wtf is the point of this? did soros buy him?

S3's picture

Well some other bussiness-dudes played him as well and they had to pay for it so you are probably right.

Yes's picture

If a rich business dude wants to pay Carlsen to play a game, what's the problem? You'd do the same thing if you were a rich dude and wanted to play against [insert name of your favourite chess player here] and spend some time with that person. Don't be a hypocrite.

Yes's picture

If a rich business dude wants to pay Carlsen to play a game, what's the problem? You'd do the same thing if you were a rich dude and wanted to play against [insert name of your favourite chess player here] and spend some time with that person. Don't be a hypocrite.

Anonymous's picture

What does "buy him" mean? He is a chess professional and if your pockets are deep enough then YOU TOO can play chess with Magnus Carlsen.

sabretruth's picture

Well Soros is a big globalist and spawn of Satan, one of the oligarchy destroying the world intentionally to create the new world order, as is Rogoff, a Federal Reserve and IMF apologist, two fo the key destructive forces of evil in the world today so indeed Carlsen is being initiated into the globalist sphere as are all people of influence when rising up the ranks.

HollandChess's picture

Really great interaction of Magnus with "the" chess loving youngsters and chess community in New Amsterdam !
I second you Mauli.

sulutas's picture

Pic caption: George Foros >>>> George Soros

Peter Doggers's picture

Merci, corrected.

Morley's picture

Awesome! Looks like everyone had fun.

Mike's picture

OMG Soros !!!!, Keep away from him Magnus !!.

Ed Dean's picture

What an odd thing to say.

Anonymous's picture

In America Soros is helping the transition from capitalism to communism.

Lobster's picture

Excellent advice!

MW's picture

Sorors? Hell, keep him away from Rogoff!

Anonymous's picture

Rogoff is alright but stay away from Soros!

tobacco's picture

They are alright but stay away from Irina

Bartleby's picture

How cool. What a life for a woodpusher.

B L's picture


Dinner not Diner

lefthandsketch's picture

Raven Sturt had a winning position against him in a simul at the Marshall Chess Club, though he let it slip away.

Anonymous's picture

Magnus appears to be a kid at heart.

valg321's picture

the Hamptons in August...nice...very very nice

redivivo's picture

Haha, it wasn't hard to guess that some of the usual regulars would throw up in their mouths when seeing this article :-)

Bobby Fiske's picture

Great PR for chess!

Finally we see chess players taking on a professional career. -Getting private income, entering the commercial marked and attracting media. Magnus is showing the way.

BTW: I just read Karjakin got his website up and a new sponsor deal. Giri has a sponsor too.

Pro Chess is entering a new phase these days :-)

sundet's picture

Carlsen does nothing without beeing paid a great sum of money. One week in NY - no less than
minimum 250.000 Dollar for sure. How much had the parrents to pay for their kids having a few minutes with this moneymachin?

valg321's picture

top female figure skater in the world makes 8 mil $/year. Magnus according to him makes about 1,5 per year.

Anonymous's picture

Not that much. His camp reports that Magnus earns (counting chess, modeling and all endorsements) the equivalent of 1.5 million usd per year.

Anonymous's picture

Glad to hear it.

Yes's picture

And what's the problem? Someone invites Magnus and pays him to visit the club. The chess players and kids enjoy it. And what makes you think that the parents pay for all the expenses? Most of the expenses are probably paid by the club and/or its sponsors. This is good PR for chess. Everyone benefits. Stop being so cynical. I think you'd have seen things in a less cynical light if you'd been there yourself.

Charles's picture

I'm blocking out all you cynics - top bloke.

How smart would it be to play against the #1 player in the world at that age. And Ken Rogoff... bet he'll be dining out on that draw for a while (even if he is a GM).

FischerMan's picture

poor Carlsen ...
It is now in the hands of the Jews: Agdestein, Richard Conn, George Soros, Rogoff.
They have everything. Lead the world not enough for them?

raving_mad's picture

poor Carlsen...
Having fun when doing chess... and even promoting chess in the media. What a shame.

valg321's picture

yes the poor bast@rd...
but seriously Magnus is geting paid for some PR which is good for chess, teaches kids which get to see one of their idols and meets some rich suits which is unavoidable i guess. Its all good. Everybody wins, all happy...well everybody except S3 but what else is new?

Bobby Fiske's picture

Pitty S3 sitting behind the iron curtain somewhere with Brezjnev on the wall and romancing the times when mazurca ruled the radiowaves and Soviet players ruled the game. Every Carlsen news flash torture his narrow mind.

I feel pitty for him because Carlsen gonna be around for another 30 years! LOL

Anonymous's picture

he only came because michael propper and russ mckofsy paid him a lot of money to do so. he doesnt care about kids and isnt much of a teacher. michael propper and russ mckofsky are horrible business men who have little place in the chess world other than to exploit it for their own purposes. no one should support chess nyc nor the chess shop (go to the forum, its the old chess shop --like before it was stolen by michael propper).

Yes's picture

And you only came here to post groundless accusations and insulting insinuations. Who cares what you think, anyway? People obviously enjoyed Carlsen's visit, and I hardly think Magnus would do this only for the sake of money. Carlsen has visited schools in the US before and discussed chess with the schoolchildren, and it was not money that motivated him to do so. You need a reality check if you really think that people always do things just for money, or that money is always bad.


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