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.


Russell Makofsky's picture

A great opportunity for the chess community of NYC! Thanks to GM Carlsen for being a great ambassador of the game!
Several Comments left by chess parents!

- Thank you, Magnus, for making "my sons" dream come true!

You were amazing! Get some rest. Thank you for being so kind and avaiable to all the children. You are a gentleman and a scholar!

Michael Propper's picture

This special ( much needed ) event was indeed expensive, fees did not offset. It should be considered a gift that was a pleasure to provide The week reached well beyond traditional Chess introduction and promotion.
It was motivational, inspiring, informational and, most importantly, tremendous fun...the impact of which will be felt for a very long time.
Magnus CAN teach, DOES care about children and is an important, fine young man who now enjoys 1000+ new "biggest fans"...Chess NYC plans many more like events. Thanks to all who participated.

Anonymous's picture

Michael, thanks for a job well done...and chess is the winner, all the way around.

John Buckley's picture

I agree with anonymous; these guys are just trying to brand themselves by using Magnus' name and reputation to compensate for their lackluster program. My daughter went one time and one time only, never again! This is the McDonald's of chess instruction, with a super sized ego!

Michael Propper's picture

Sorry to hear of your experience, pride ourselves on fun, compelling Chess enrichment. We'd like to hear more and make it right. Please contact us @


Anonymous's picture

The super GM Fabiano Caruana came out of a NY after school chess program; a pretty good recommendation...Maybe the problem was with you (too high expectations) or your kid (no genuine interest in chess). Did you hire a private chess coach for her?

Anonymous's picture

Chess in the USA is extremely widespread in the elementary then goes off a cliff. What the USA really needs is a yearly super-GM tourney, perhaps starting on one coast and ending on the other.


Latest articles