How Good is Magnus Carlsen? Full overview over his impressive journey so far

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen is the dominant force that has been the king of the elite for over a decade now, most people see him as the face of chess for a good reason. Many understand that he is the greatest chess player today, however, some do not truly comprehend how good he is compared to the players of the past.

His accomplishments are outstanding, many players of the past do not even come close to what magnus carlsen have achieved today. This article will tell you how good Magnus Carlsen really is, which may alter how you see him as a player, keeping reading if you are interested.

Magnus Carlsen is the five-time reigning world champion

Magnus Carlsen is the reigning five-time world chess champion which has been the king of chess for over a decade, this is a feature that not a lot of chess champions have achieved. There are some who have a way more years than this but they are usually not as active in defending the title as Magnus, the competition today is different after all.

That during the day of emanuel lasker for example, world chess champions are not required to defend their title in a specific number of years. Usually it is in their hands whether they are to defend against a new world chess championship challenger or not, this means that they could hold on for the title much longer.

And this is exactly what a lot of previous world chess championship holders have done, they wouldn’t go against some of the best players at the time since they are able to do so. They can pick their fights and therefore have a much longer reign than modern ones, it is not until fide came that changed all of this.

Fide has now established a system by which a world chess championship challenger has to defend their title once every 2 or so years, which makes retaining the title difficult. Magnus Carlsen has only been a world champion for over a decade (Mikhail Botvinnik for example has been a champion for way longer), but do not let this fool you.

He is a five-time world reigning champion and has defended his title for a total of five times, if you give this defense to someone like Wilhelm Steinitz he would be world champion for 15 years (or more). Especially with the era of computers and preparation, Magnus has remained the dominant force in the elite levels.

Magnus Carlsen has held the crown in all time formats at multiple years

This is probably one of the most impressive accomplishments of Magnus Carlsen, he was able to obtain all of the world championship titles from all time formats in multiple years. The one that is considered the world champion is the classical world chess champion, the other world titles are not as relevant.

This is because classical is the most difficult time format of all, it is also the longest which allows the “true” best player to come out of the competition. Apart from this it is also difficult to gain a higher rating in classical than compared to blitz and rapid, however Magnus Carlsen has overcome this question.

Apart from his classical chess championship achievement he is also a 3 time world rapid chess champion and five time world blitz champion, there are many years where he had all the crown in all time formats asserting his dominance in the top level. He is the first to have held the crown in all three time formats in multiple years.

He had dominated other world class super-grandmasters like Hikaru Nakamura and Ian Nepomniachtchi at the blitz section, as well as other famous names in the rapid section. This incredible feature has solidified his name as the absolute best player of the decade, there isn’t even a question of him acquiring or winning world titles in multiple years.

Magnus Carlsen had become fide number at a young age of 19

Probably one of the most incredible accomplishments of Magnus Carlsen is how fast he was able to rise in the fide rankings, at such a young age he was able to go so high. He is one of the youngest grandmasters in history ever and was able to become the top fide no.1 at just the age of 19, he had many consistent games on this rise.

His meteoric rise to the rating game had been phenomenal, he had already surpassed the rating of 2800 at the tender age of 18 (the youngest ever to have achieved so). A year later in 2010 (with Magnus being 19 years old) he had already acquired the number one fide ranking which is also the youngest in history.

At the age of 18 some chess players who have been playing the game since they are five don’t even reach the grandmaster level, yet Magnus Carlsen is already fide rating 2800 at this point. He had many games against the best players in the world when he hadn’t even reached puberty, it is an insane achievement.

If you look at the best chess players in the world, not a lot of them have even reached the 2800 mark at any point of their career, and here is an 18 year old doing it like it’s nothing. At the age of 19 (which is barely an adult) he had already become fide number 1, at this point it is already expected that they will become a world champion.

Magnus Carlsen has the highest classical peak rating of 2882

Magnus Carlsen is also the holder of the highest recorded classical rating in history, it is of course expected for someone who is able to rise that fast. However it is incredible that he is able to achieve this at such a young age, even before becoming a world champion.

During the time when magnus carlsen was at his peak classical rating the current world champion is viswanathan anand, and even anand is below carlsen in terms of rating. Some even debate that magnus would be a world champion for much longer if he hadn’t forfeited his first opportunity to do so , however this just solidifies his dominance.

Magnus Carlsen’s peak classical rating is 2882 which is the highest in history, Garry Kasparov who is also a monster has a peak rating of 2851. Magnus Carlsen’s peak rating is something that is unlikely to be achieved later in the future, it will probably take another generational talent in order to achieve something like this.

2882 in classical is a monster achievement for the young carlsen, it is the hardest time format for one to acquire higher ratings for a reason. In fact it is so hard to acquire that his current self which aims to reach the classical rating of 2900 is having a hard time getting to 2882, this just proves how good he was back then.

Magnus Carlsen have been fide no.1 for more than a decade

Being one of the greatest in a period of time is one thing , however what separates the best of the best is the consistency of which they have achieved their credentials. Almost anybody in the elite levels can have a breakout year/years, but only those who are able to consistently do it in multiple years are considered the best

Magnus Carlsen definitely has this quality, he has held the fide ranking no.1 for multiple years which makes his legacy undisputed. It is not only that Magnus Carlsen became on the top when he was so young , after that he has achieved more and more as the time goes by without ever stopping.

Magnus Carlsen has held the fide no.1 rankings since July 1, 2011 (March 2022 as the time of this writing). Most people have even taken it for granted that Magnus Carlsen is the no.1 chess player for over a decade, he has dominated so much that no one can even come close.

There are many other genius chess prodigy like Wei Yi who have reached the 2700 rating mark at a ridiculously young age only to stagnate, Magnus Carlsen has grown exponentially even when he is at the top. Many players have come and gone to challenge the world champion for his throne only to fail, this consistency is what makes magnus carlsen so amazing.

Magnus Carlsen has the longest streak of unbeaten games in classical

This is another notable achievement for the classical world champion magnus carlsen , he has held the record for the most unbeaten streak in a classical games. This shows his resiliency and how he is not going to let go of any rating points at any time of the day, it is also the reason why he is fide no. 1 for a long time.

Magnus Carlsen is the holder of the most unbeaten classical chess streak having a total of 125 games in a row without being beaten once, this is a proof to his consistency. The streak of 125 games is divided between 42 wins and 83 draws, the longest streak ever in history when it comes to the classical time format.

Out of these 125 games he had won many tournaments and had buffed up his classical rating, an astonishing achievement in this era of computer and preparation. Many beginners would not appreciate this unbeaten streak, but not only because they are not looking at the 42 wins that Magnus has acquired while this is going on.

One would expect some 90+ draws for someone who has a 125 game unbeaten streak in classical chess (a time format that is notorious for having huge numbers of draws), yet Magnus actually gets this done with some wins. This means that he has been playing with a significant amount of risk for most of the games, he is not only trying to play safe every game in hopes of preserving the streak, he is actually fighting. 

Magnus Carlsen beat Karpov and drew Kasparov at the young age of 13

Some of his legendary games is when he had played both Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov as a thirteen year old, Garry won the second game but almost lost the other (the first game was drawn with Magnus being up a pawn). Anatoly Karpov on the other hand was beaten by Carlsen which he later applauded as a young prodigy with a great future.

This is probably one of the events that have hooked many people up to Magnus Carlsen, he had beaten the legendary Anatoly Karpov when he was only 13 years old. Granted that Karpov at this time is a little bit off from his prime, it is still an incredible achievement when Magnus is but a little kid.

That game with Garry Kasparov is a little tense, at this time Garry Kasparov is no longer the world champion but he is still the fide no. 1, he is at least some 70% of his absolute playing prime. Magnus Carlsen at this time is just some random kid that came out of nowhere, and he was able to give Kasparov a good fight.

The first game is probably what made Magnus Carlsen so famous at the time, he was able to draw against Garry Kasparov when the difference in ratings was too high. In fact Magnus Carlsen is even winning by being up a pawn in the endgame, it is unfortunate that he missed the winning move and Kasparov was able to draw.

Magnus Carlsen is known for winning theoretically drawn endgames

This is Magnus Carlsen’s legacy when it comes to his particular style, he is known for coming up with unpredictable wins against theoretically drawn endgames that would be drawn 95% of the time. Even Anish Giri (a famous super-grandmaster) has said multiple times that Magnus can convert positions that he couldn’t.

Carlsen’s signature games are those where he had converted a drawn endgame position into a winning one, stunning his fellow super grandmasters as he performed magic in the endgame. He is famous for “squeezing water out of stone” as he seemingly finds something out of dry endgame positions.

This makes sense in this era of computers and preparation, you need to be able to do something like this in order to rise to the top. A lot of super-grandmasters today specialize in making draws and not allowing any opportunities, Magnus Carlsen is one of those who can take advantage of this mindset and win.

Magnus Carlsen is truly a one in a generation talent, we might not be able to see someone like him in the future due to his absurd accomplishments. Some even call him the greatest chess player of all time and this is for a good reason, his achievements dwarf any other chess players in the past.

It is still up to a debate though since some other legendary figures like Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer still have other people’s hearts, only time will tell if this will change. What is for sure though is Magnus Carlsen will definitely be one of the greatest, even if his career has somehow gone downhill in the future, this will not change.


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