Reports | January 24, 2014 22:41

Magnus Carlsen Checkmates Bill Gates in 12 Seconds

Magnus Carlsen only needed 12 seconds on the clock to checkmate the second richest man in the world, Bill Gates. As we reported earlier, Carlsen was to meet the founder of Microsoft, billionaire and philantropist as guests in the talkshow Skavlan. The show was recorded on Thursday and part of it was a game of chess, which didn't last very long.

Image: NRK/YouTube

For this blitz game, played in a studio in London, Carlsen was given 30 seconds on the clock against 2 minutes for Gates. The American billionaire opened with 1.e4, but didn't start the clock. Carlsen positioned his pieces, then started his own clock and played 1...Nc6. It was soon over:

PGN string

Here's a video of the game, which was posted earlier today on Youtube and has been watched over 77K times already!

Gates had 1 minute and 10 seconds left at the end, while Carlsen still had 18 seconds left and so only used 12 seconds. (In fact he lost about 2 when he tipped over a pawn on move 2, and it seems he also needed about 2 seconds to stop the clock!) Obviously the difference in strength was so huge that chess fans won't be that surprised, but for the rest of the world “Magnus Carlsen Checkmates Bill Gates in 12 Seconds” probably sounds quite astonishing!

Norwegian TV channel NRK posted a report on the show and the game, where it says that “Carlsen had to admit that he had to break one of his own principles, namely not to use cheap tricks to win.” The world champion was obviously referring to the move 7...Ne5, which wasn't correct but did bring him a very quick checkmate.

In the TV show Carlsen also spoke about teaching Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg chess, a week before. The Norwegian felt that “[Zuckerberg] was much better after an hour.” To the question whether he's friends with Zuckerberg on Facebook, Carlsen replied: “No, I do not accept everyone on Facebook!” 

Skavlan is a Norwegian-Swedish television talk show hosted by Norwegian journalist Fredrik SkavlanPrevious guests in the show include Michael Palin, Sinead O'Connor, Wyclef Jean, Judit Polgar, Bruno Mars, Ruby Wax, Robbie Williams, Jon Bon Jovi, Richard Dawkins, Kevin Costner, Will Smith and David Guetta. Carlsen had been a guest in the show more than once before.

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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.


arkan's picture


Anonymous's picture

Poor bill

Anonymous's picture

i lold

RG13's picture

This just shows that even the best players must play BS when they have to move at bullet speed.

Bartleby's picture

At this point he was pretty confident that, if nothing else, he would win on time. Bill Gates was clearly unused to handle such a fast-paced game. It was coolly professional how Carlsen reset the pieces on his own time after knocking them over. It radiated how comfortable he was with bullet time management.

Brecht's picture

now let's turn the roles around...where would Magnus be without PC's using Microsoft Windows and Deep Fritz or Houdini?

Crow T Robot's picture

Who cares?

Amos's picture

Probably just where he is right now. Windows is far from being the on OS out there.

Cbbishop's picture

He would be much better, using Macs.

Anonymous's picture

Surely you mean Linux! :)

Williams's picture

You mean, BSD. OpenBSD. At least Slackware if you really meant Linux.

AngeloPardi's picture

World Champ ?
I don't think that Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrossian, or Fischer ever used a computer (but I may be mistaking), and that didn't prevent them to become WC.

monte44's picture

What is the point of such freak show?? To promote chess?? Lol! If Carlsen thinks he can do it by making dork out of himself he's more banal person than i thought. Fischer or Kasparov would never make such idiotic things.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen is the king of chess

you're not even a pawn in this game

Mindhunter's picture

He'd still beat Gates with his eyes closed! Poor Bill clearly hasn't a clue how to play chess

S5's picture

This proves that having money is not everything.
You can have BILLions....but if your IQ is ony 65....

Cancrizans's picture

His IQ is not 65 - maybe 165 - he's Harvard dropout. What it does prove is that a person with a lower IQ can amass vast wealth - much more than someone with a far higher IQ.

Anonymous's picture

harward and IQ are two different things !

The fake Bill Gates's picture

Poor Bill.... he got a bit greedy (again)

KingTal's picture

Bill Gates confirmed <1000 elo playing strength, haha.

V's picture

But I see commets of morons here too

Cbbishop's picture

Now we know why Windows had Solitaire pre installed.

Paul's picture

I don't see why 9. Re1 is +-... it's mate on f2 in 3 moves.

Axel's picture

Because of Qxf3 and not gxf3

Para's picture

After Re1 isnt black lost? Technically gates was completely winning then

indewereld's picture

ik doe ut voor de helft. wit of zwart. maakt niet uit. liever wit natuurlijk. maar toch...

indewereld's picture

sorry. Now in English: I only charge 50%. White or black (preferrably white off course).

Alcoholics anonymous's picture

Gates deserved it, Windows 8 is awful.

Dirk's picture

I think Carlsen can not be praised too much for doing this. Cultivating a relationship with bilionaires like Gates, Zuckermann, and Milner will help getting serious sponsorship for chess in the future.

This will benefit chess a lot more than Ilyumzhinov hanging out with mass-murderers like Gadaffi and Assad.

I'm sure he personally would have preferred to play in Wijk aan Zee instead, but he's doing this for the game.

Bronkenstein's picture

´Carlsen had to admit that he had to break one of his own principles, namely NOT to use cheap tricks to win´ - ah, those cheap tricks... =)

Thomas Richter's picture

This might be the interesting part of the story: What exactly is a cheap trick, as opposed to an expensive one? This trick could have been expensive if lots of money had been at stake ... .

It would have been hilarious if Bill Gates had found Re1, continuing quickly and confidently to win the game - suddenly finding his blitz form or putting up his own show for the first couple of moves. But then the story might not be prominently published, and the entire idea behind this little exhibition game was that Carlsen will win.

Bronkenstein's picture

On ´cheap tricks´ - I was referring to some ChessBomb interpretations of that (in)famous term =)

On a serious note, had Bil found Re1, he would simply make another blunder in 2 moves, or lose on time. Also, Bil Gates winning the game against Magnus would be THE news (and source of endless jokes in years to come) - much bigger than this one imNSHo.

Anonymous's picture

the entire idea behind this little exhibition game was that Carlsen will win...Ha ha ha Thomas you never disappoint! ! What do you think of what Carlsen had for dinner, tell us what he did wrong there?

Anonymous's picture

"the entire idea behind this little exhibition game was that Carlsen will win"

Agree, Carlsen PR team paid Gates to blunder and lose the game.

eh's picture

Yeah, those Carlsen dollars must have been irresistible for Gates ...

Cbbishop's picture

I dont't think someone who plays 3.Bd3 could beat Carlsen even a bishop up. Carlsen picked up Gates' level from this move, that's why he went for the "cheap trick" (his own words).

saturnz's picture

cheap trick as opposed to elaborate plans, cheap tricks usulally come at high cost if discovered or are easy to respond to

Brecht's picture

Perhaps Bill Gates wants to take over Deep Blue in future and as such shows interests in Chess?

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen got lucky, he didn't deserve to win that game against Gates.

mickey's picture

Although winning, Carlsen gained no ELO-points...

eric's picture

Above, I see some people taking this game b/w Magnus and Bill seriously, even at a level to relate this to Bill Gate's IQ and his Microsoft etc.

Anonymous's picture

bill castled like an experienced player

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen had lost position after eight moves, he was lucky that he wasn't playing Anand.

Huy's picture

Good God, this is just nonsense! What is it with our times?!

Hamid's picture

I see some people taking this game black/white Magnus Carlsen and Bill Gates seriously, even at a level to relate this to Bill Gates' IQ (160 or 165) and his Microsoft, etc.
No doubt, each of the two are genius in their BUSINESS.

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