Get to know the 2018 Play Live Challenge Contestants!

As most of you know, our annual Play Live Challenge is coming up! This year, we’re once again visiting Hamburg, Germany. This year’s event is sponsored by Der Spiegel, WorldQuant and Grenke. It’s going to be huge and we’re very excited! We’ll be sharing a live stream to our Facebook page so don’t forget to tune in!

For those of you who don’t know what the Play Live Challenge is: it’s an annual event where the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, plays chess live against several contestants simultaneously under limited time control.

So far, nobody has been able to beat Magnus, but let’s have a look at this year’s contestants - perhaps this will be the year of firsts?

Anna Bjorkedal - Norway
Anna is 46 years old and a teacher in Trondheim, Norway. She started playing the Play Magnus app in 2016 after watching the chess world championship. Last year she participated in a workshop for chess-motivators in schools and got 20 chess games for her school's students. This was inspirational, and she started playing the Play Magnus app more to learn how to play the game well enough to beat her fifth-grade students - which she accomplished. This year, she’s a first grade teacher and looking forward to introducing chess to her students.

Joe Kempsey - United States
Joe, 20, comes from Pearl River, New York and currently attends Rockland Community College. He’s working on getting his associates in Business Administration this fall. His favorite hobbies include playing the guitar, running, and playing chess. He started to really get into chess at the beginning of 2016, and ever since, has been addicted to the game. The Play Magnus app also inspired him to start a YouTube channel where he plays against Magnus on the app.

Pedro Encinas - Spain
The 56-year-old Madridian loves playing chess and shared a little story with us:

“I started in this world of chess during my primary education, in 1973 at the age 11. My family was subscribed to Círculo de Lectores magazine to acquire books and albums monthly. I stumbled upon a book of chess one day. So my beginnings of chess were self-taught. At the age of 15, I enter a chess club of Segovia, where we got to progress a little. In 1984, I was a founding partner of the UNED Chess Club - still existing - and in 2011, a founding member of the Promise Club JAQUE MATE. I’ve also been an assistant referee in the International Blind Cup (01-12-1990), organized by the ONCE (National Organization of the Blind of Spain) and currently have a group of young students who want to start in this sport!”

Robert Ellingsen - Norway
Robert is a 32-year-old economics student at the University of Kongsberg, Norway. He and his girlfriend have two cats and he likes playing the piano, watching football and working out. Besides that, he has a thing for chess - of course! Especially, coming from Norway and seeing one of his own - Magnus Carlsen - at the top of his game, fascinated him. His father taught him chess as a child and he managed to beat him at the age of 15-16. He now practises on the Play Magnus app and the Magnus Trainer.

Eric Colin - France
Eric is 19 years old and multilingual - he speaks French, English, German AND Dutch! He’s a former student of Higher National Certificate (HNC) of logistics and transport management, national and international regulations and also a baseball fan (L.A. Dodgers). He enjoys racket sports and whitewater sports in general, whether it’s table tennis or canoeing, he’s up for it all.

When it comes to chess, he started playing and learning at a local club near Lyon from age 7-14. Back then, he took the game with a different determination as he does now; he trains serious and hard, allowing him to give his best. Since 2016, he also plays in the Play Magnus app.

Justus Poniewasz - Germany
Nine-year-old Justus is from Germany and is in third grade at a local school in Hamburg. He’s been playing chess since he was five, but only casually. He loves playing with his grandfather’s huge garden chess set and solving chess puzzles in the Chessbase "Fritz&Fertig" workbook. For more than a year, he has been using the Play Magnus app, and recently, the Magnus Trainer on his Android phone. He succeeded in winning up to age level 7.5 and is always trying to get to a higher level.

Besides chess, he plays the cello (currently STAR WARS), the flute and soccer in a team. He is a huge fan of Star Wars and duly noted the chess game in episode 4!

Fun fact: this year Justus went to the British Museum in London to see the original Lewis Chessmen during a family vacation; he also brought back an ISKLAR water bottle from a vacation in Norway this year and put it next to his new full-size DGT chessboard! Go, Justus!

Constanze Wulf - Germany

Constanze is 21 years old, born in Wismar (close to the Baltic Sea), and has been living in Hamburg with her boyfriend since 2015. She came to Hamburg to study Business Mathematics. With a mathematical brain, she has been fascinated with chess her whole life and joined a chess club at just nine years old. In 2008, she qualified for the "Deutsche Jugendeinzelmeisterschaft" age group U12. She continued qualifying and also played in the "Jugendbundesliga" (youth national league) for three seasons. This month, she will play her first round in the second national league of women for her new chess club “HSK 1830 e.V.”. In her opinion, chess is the only game/sport that never gets boring!

Arthur Abraham - Armenia/Germany
Abraham, 38, was born in Yerevan and is a former multiple-time boxing world-champion. He held titles in two different weight classes between 2005 and 2016. His boxing record in 53 fights includes 47 wins. He’s also a dedicated chess player so it will be interesting to see whether he can hold his own against Magnus!

Nils Ehlers - Germany
Ehlers, 24, is 2.09m tall and a German beach volleyball player. He lives in Hamburg, and since the summer of 2018, he’s teamed up with Olympic contestant Lars Flueggen for the German national team. As he enjoys a game of chess, we’re curious about his skills!

Antonia Ziegenfuß - Germany
Antonia, 13, is the current under 14 German champion, with an ELO rating of 1950 around. She plays for Baden-Baden. Perhaps a good challenger for Magnus?

Bennet Hagner - Germany
Nine-year-old Bennet is the U10 chess champion from Frankfurter TV 1860. Will he stand a chance against Magnus?

Quite an interesting and varied group, with different affiliations to chess, don’t you think? We’re really curious to see who will be the last one standing!

You’ll be able to vote for one of the contestants on our Facebook page soon so keep an eye out!!

Coming up soon: