Carlsen’s turn must surely come

Leonard Barden
Saturday February 9, 2008

The Guardian

Magnus Carlsen’s joint first with Levon Aronian at the elite Corus Wijk event puts the 17-year-old Norwegian up to No9 in the world. Media coverage of his meteoric rise is growing, with comparisons to the teenage Bobby Fischer. It is already sure that Carlsen is the most credible Western-born world title candidate since the US legend.

For the first time, too, Carlsen is now arguably ahead of the American at the same age. Fischer at 16 was fifth, though well behind the Soviets, in the 1959 candidates. But his next real breakthrough only came at 18, when he was second to Mikhail Tal at Bled 1961, winning their individual game, then won the Stockholm interzonal by a wide margin.

So far Garry Kasparov is the youngest ever world champion, at age 22 in 1985. Carlsen’s earliest opportunity to break that record will be in 2010 at age 19 or 20. The International Chess Federation (Fide) has just announced a series of Grand Prix tournaments in 2008-9, and the teenager, who attends Norway’s special school for elite sportsman, is qualified for the Grand Prix after his semi-final finish in the 2007 World Cup.

The 2009 Grand Prix winner meets the 2009 World Cup winner to decide the 2010 world championship challenger. It is not yet known who will be the titleholder in 2010. Vishy Anand, the holder, and Vladimir Kramnik meet later this year, and the survivor of that must defend in 2009 against either Veselin Topalov or Gata Kamsky.

Whatever happens next time round, Carlsen’s turn must surely come.

Source: The Guardian

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