Magnus Carlsen (Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen), a Norwegian chess Grandmaster and currently ranked number on in the world, was born on 30 November 1990 in Tønsberg, Norway and lives in Lommedalen near Oslo. Carlsen started playing chess tournaments when he was eight and later he was coached at a Norwegian high school for athletes by Grandmaster Simen Agdestein. Agdestein introduced his civil worker Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen to Carlsen, and they had regular training sessions. Becoming an International Master in 2003, Carlsen was given a year off from elementary school to participate in international chess tournaments during the fall season of 2003.
Carlsen was brought to the attention of the international chess world after his victory in the C group at the Corus chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee 2004. As a result of the victory, he took his first Grandmaster norm. Particularly notable was his win over Sipke Ernst in the penultimate round, when Carlsen sacrificed material to mate him later. Carlsen's victory in the C group led Grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek, writing for the Washington Post, to give him the title "Mozart of chess".
Carlsen obtained his second GM norm in the Moscow Aeroflot Open in February 2004. In a blitz chess tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland, Carlsen defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov on 17 March 2004. The blitz tournament was a preliminary event leading up to a rapid knockout tournament beginning the next day, where Carlsen achieved one draw against Garry Kasparov, who was then the top-rated player in the world, before losing to Kasparov after 32 moves of the second game, thus being knocked out of the tournament.
In the sixth Dubai Open Chess Championship April 2004, Carlsen obtained his third Grandmaster norm and became a Grandmaster on 26 April 2004. As a result of this he was at the time the world's youngest Grandmaster and the second youngest person ever to hold GM status, after Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine.
In the 2006 Norwegian Chess Championship, Carlsen was close to winning outright, but a last round loss to Berge Østenstad tied him for first place with Agdestein. The last-round loss deprived Magnus of beating Agdestein's record of becoming the youngest Norwegian champion ever. However, in the play-off a few weeks later Carlsen won the title for the first time.
In the prestigious Linares chess tournament 2007, which many consider to be the "the Wimbledon of chess", Carlsen met the following top-rated players: Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian, Peter Leko, and Vassily Ivanchuk. With the significantly lowest Elo rating, he achieved a second place and an Elo performance of 2778.
In August 2007, he won the International Chess Festival Biel Grandmaster Tournament and became the youngest person ever to win a category 18 tournament. Immediately after the Biel tournament, Carlsen entered the open Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø, but his fourth place result was somewhat disappointing. In the first round, Carlsen surprisingly conceded a draw to his classmate Brede Hagen (rated 2034) after having a lost position at one point. A game which attracted some attention was his sixth round win over his own father Henrik Carlsen.
Playing for the second time in the top group A of the Corus chess tournament 2008, Carlsen showed a big improvement over his 2007 performance. His final score was eight points in 13 rounds, an Elo performance of 2830. Carlsen scored five wins (including as Black against former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik), two losses and six draws. He shared first place with Levon Aronian, becoming the youngest person ever to win a category 20 tournament.
In 2009 Carlsen won the category 21 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament, 2.5 points ahead of second-place finisher Topalov, the world's highest-rated player at the time. He scored 8/10 and this was described as one of the greatest tournament results in history with a performance of 3002.
In November Carlsen went on to win the 2009 World Blitz Championship in Moscow and after that tournament Carlsen entered the 2009 London Chess Classic as the top seed in a field including former world champion Vladimir Kramnik. He defeated Kramnik in round one in a positional game and went on to win the tournament. This victory has propelled him to the top of the FIDE rating list, surpassing Veselin Topalov.
In early 2009 Carlsen engaged former world champion Garry Kasparov as a personal trainer. In September 2009 their partnership was confirmed in Norwegian newspapers. The cooperation with Kasparov officially ended March 2010. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel Carlsen stated that they would still remain in contact and that he would continue to attend training sessions with Kasparov.
Later that year Carlsen won the Corus chess tournament, the Amber 2010 tournament, the Bazna Kings Tournament and Nanjing 2010 event. In May 2010 it was revealed that Carlsen had aided Viswanathan Anand in preparation for the World Chess Championship 2007, 2008 and 2010. Carlsen won the 2010 London Chess Classic from December 8 to 15 in a field including the world champion Viswanathan Anand and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik.