Reports | September 24, 2011 14:37

New Carlsen biography published: reports in Norwegian media

New Carlsen biography published: reports in Norwegian media

"Get me out of this" was how Magnus Carlsen told his father Henrik that he wanted to stop working with Garry Kasparov, after the Corus Chess Tournament in eary 2010. This is written in a new biography about Carlsen which was published last week in Norway and mentioned in all the major Norwegian newspapers.

The book is called Smarte trekk. Magnus Carlsen ('Smart move. Magnus Carlsen') and was published on September 16th, 2011 by Kagge Forlag. It is the third book about Carlsen, after Simen Agdestein's biography from seven years ago, and Arne Danielsen's biographical chess novel that focuses on Carlsen.

For Smarte trekk, daily newspaper journalist  Hallgeir Opedal followed Carlsen for a year,

from Oslo to Kristiansund, and on to Berlin, New York, London, Wijk Aan Zee and Monaco. It is a book about money, sponsors, tactics, politics, the ups and downs, and especially working with Garry Kasparov. The reader gets a broad insight into a strange world of chess, genius and madness.

according to the back cover of the book. There it's also written that Carlsen liked the idea of a book, but didn't want to be shown as a genius.

'I do not want clichés.' 'Like 'the Mozart of chess?' asked the author, and Carlsen said: 'Yes, things like that.'

All the major Norwegian newspapers were present at the book launch on September 16th and below we'll give an overview of their reports.

One of the newspapers that spoke with Carlsen at the book launch was Aftenposten. Their journalist got the impression that Opedal has struggled to get access to the main source.

It's OK. It was supposed to be a reporting book, but it's become a portrait.

Carlsen said to Aftenposten.

We gave him lots of artistic freedom.

said Espen Agdestein, the brother of GM Simen Agdestein and the manager of Carlsen.

Arguably the most interesting part of the book deals with the short-lived cooperation between Carlsen and Garry Kasparov, which started in the summer of 2009 and ended about half a year later.

He would control slightly more than I thought was right.

Carlsen said to the Aftenposten reporter.

The newspaper Nettavisen provided more details about the Kasparov section. Apparently the first signs of a problematic cooperation appeared during Carlsen's highly successful Nanjing 2009 tournament. Carlsen:

There the cooperation went perfectly, and there was a reason: He was in the U.S., and I was twelve time zones away. We talked in the evenings and as I was sleeping, he worked all day. And when I awoke, I would find a file by e-mail with his comments...

But Carlsen 'dropped the phone calls' because these

really just made me uncomfortable.

Nettavisen points out that "Kasparov was a strict coach, shaped by iron Russian discipline and determination. He didn’t hesitate to swing the axe if his student played poorly." writes the newspaper. Carlsen, on the other hand, was used to do everthing by himself. "The Norwegian shuns conflict and speaks as little as possible, while the Russian loves trouble and his own voice."

After a crucial loss in the Corus tournament in January 2010, it went completely wrong. As Nettavisen writes, Kasparov had invested extra time and prestige in Magnus' duel against Vladimir Kramnik.

Kasparov had been able to pump me up.

said Carlsen.

I would not only win the game, but also crush the ego of Kramnik.

Before the game the young Norwegian had updated his Facebook status to:

Magnus Carlsen is going to crush Kramnik like a bug.

However, after Carlsen lost all this had an embarrassing defeat and there was scorn and laughter in the community. According to the book, Carlsen deleted 4,000 Facebook friends a few weeks later.

Get me out of this!

Magnus said to his father Henrik a few weeks after the tournament. The cooperation with Kasparov had resulted in too much pressure. At first Kasparov was "furious, terribly upset", according to the book, but later the 13th World Champion would admit that he had put Carlsen under too much pressure. In the mean time the relationship between Carlsen and Kasparov has normalized.

It's decent. I have no problem talking to him.

said Carlsen.

VG, the biggest Norwegian newspaper, focused on the part of the book about Carlsen's fashion deal with G-Star, which started early 2010 and runs until the end of this year. The book reveals that after contracting Liv Tyler, G-Star was trying for long to set a deal with "a Hollywood actor, who was, although nobody will confirm it, Johnny Depp". When G-Star CEO Jos van Tilburg saw a six-page interview with Magnus Carlsen in the left-leaning Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, he suggested him for the campaign. In the article, Carlsen was compared to another Hollywood star - Matt Damon, who is also know for his high intelligence.

I have at least avoided that the model job became a total disaster.

Carlsen said to VG. The newspaper also spoke with the author and asked him if he knew Magnus Carlsen after following him for a year.

I absolutely feel that I know him. He keeps cards close to chest, and often has a stony face. But for example at Facebook I get the impression of another person, one that is very social and has humor.

The newspaper Dagbladet also focuses on Kasparov and G-Star, but adds a paragraph about love letters. "The G-Star campaign has led to increased attention. Among other things he's been stopped by the Danish girls who knew him." To Dagbladet, Carlsen smiled, and said about this:

There was some fun, of course. I don't have a girlfriend but I have received both fan love letters.

He said he responded to some, according to Dagbladet.

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.


chandler's picture

my eyes do hurt... probably bcos of too much white (as others have said elsewhere)

S3's picture

my eyes hurt too..too much Carlsen.

help's picture

It's not the white. They are using GREY text instead of black.

In Firefox go Tools > Options > Content > Colors > Uncheck "Allow pages to choose their own colors" to see what I mean. Makes a world of difference.

(Site doesn't even look too bad that way though unfortunately the diagrams don't work that way. There are addons to fix this sort of thing on a per site basis.)

Hanseman's picture

first scentence 'get me' in stead of 'get my'

Hanseman's picture


noyb's picture

Is it just me or does this site redesign look like a knock-off?

arkan's picture

No it's not just you

Peter Doggers's picture

Please post comments about the site's design over here. (Fyi by posting a comment you are agreeing to abide our Terms & Conditions in which we ask you not to post comments which deviate wildly from the topic of the thread.)

Martr Ollie's picture

My God, all this white!! I see white!!

Jaideepblue's picture

Now i can't tell when im on chessdom and when im' here. good going.

Chess Fan's picture

I find this article very interesting.
Magnus Carlsen seems to be an interesting, intelligent, humorous person. Yes, a lot like Matt Damon.
The book must be interesting to read. The clash of culture between the Norwegian Magnus and Iron-curtain disciplined Kasparov. Whatever, the professional relationship has brought out one of the greatest chess champions of all times, well ahead of time.

stevefraser's picture

Too bad he's not American. Chess would re enter popular culture (with more sponsor $$$) if the champ was described as a "genius" like Mozart, plus have him get walk on parts in movies, be photographed at A level parties, Broadway shows and movie/TV opennings and awards shows with a hot blonde porn star at his side. Think Elvis how Col. Parker made him a world wide icon with smart PR. Chess will never thrive if the top pros are stereotyped as shut ins and geeky introverts.

Anna's picture

Too bad he's not American! ²

Juan's picture

Still waiting for a movie based on his biography

S3's picture

Amazing. People here seem to be interested in a book with subjects as love letters and meanwhile the guy is not even participating in the candidates. I think there are already more books on Carlsen than on Kramnik and Anand together while he has not yet accomplished a tenth of what they did.
I said it a long time ago: Carlsen is to chess what Justin Bieber is to music and Mc Donalds to food.

Xeno's picture

If your comments on Carlsen ever will reach Bieber level it would mean a giant leap forward.

S3's picture

I suppose it was you who wrote one of those love letters?

Try to see thru the b***. MC is being hyped like no other chess player. It's obvious marketing yet you still fall for it. MC is a good player of course, but the level of exposure is just way over the top.

Now it's even a top-story when a book is written about him. People are excited to read comparisons with Matt Damon and stuff about love letters. I think it's pretty sad when chess is dragged to that level.

stevefraser's picture

Chess will never thrive if the top pros are stereotyped as shut ins and geeky introverts.

Septimus's picture

That is a bit harsh. Beiber is a talentless joke unleashed on an equally dumb populace. Carlsen is a top rated player who has actually earned his rating. Sure, all these books are premature and ridiculous, but that does not diminish the fact that he is a top drawer player. Bieber on the other hand is just...s%!t...

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen didn't even get to the #1 rated spot before Kasparov
coached him - I hope he works with Kasparov again.

henkbeyerrjio's picture


totally agree. lets verify your talks with the rating list and tournement results of last yea.....

oh I already notice..... you are WRONG!

henkbeyerrjio's picture

I follow MC since he was 12 years old and I'm a big fan. I hate people telling me my affection and adminiration is the result of alot good marketing and hype. We are still allow to decide why we are fan of someone. Arent we?

bhabatosh's picture

How many biography he is going to write ? I thought he just barely begun ....
No candidates/Wc matches played so far ....will read the 3rd edition :-)

Pieter Priems's picture

Give me the games not the story's.

Septimus's picture

Should it read "get me out of this" instead of "get my out of this" ?

Piti's picture

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