Starting February 14th, you will be able to challenge Henrik Carlsen in the Play Magnus app. His spot on the Hall of Fame is as deserved as can be since without Henrik Magnus would have neither existed as a chess player, nor even as a person!
Henrik is an enigmatic character who doesn't give too many interviews. Also, when he does talk to the media, the reporters usually keep approaching him with the same questions about his son Magnus Carlsen over and over again.
To help you prepare for your upcoming matches with Henrik and to shed some light on his personality, we decided to ask him a few tricky questions related to chess:
How would you describe your chess style? Did you have any chess role models growing up? What are your key strengths and weaknesses as a player?
Although I don’t play chess in coffee houses very often, I think I am a typical coffee house player! Always looking for tactics and swindles. Magnus has sometimes been slightly impressed by my tactics, as well as amazed at what he calls a complete lack of positional understanding and concern for king safety.
Did you ever consider playing chess professionally, or was it always more of a hobby/part of cultural education for you?
When I started playing in the local Asker Chess club at 15, I was trounced by some younger players (Agdestein brothers and B. Oestenstad) and professional chess was never in my thoughts. It was a hobby I was quite passionate about until work and family took priority.
Do you have a favorite chess game? Also, please share with us one of your own best games, which is characteristic of your playing style.
I usually watch Magnus playing in tournaments and sometimes his choices make even the analysis.sesse computer confused. I find those moments very fascinating. I cannot claim any memorable games myself, although I did in fact win the beauty prize in a Norwegian 5-round classic chess weekend tournament back in 2001. At the time Magnus was already much better than me, but I had a great event and ended far ahead of him (for the last time 🙂).
Previously the Play Magnus app used to revolve around challenging Magnus at different ages. According to one of the databases, you defeated 9-year old Magnus in Arnold Grand Prix in 2000, while he came back for vengeance at 16, beating you in the Arctic Chess Challenge in 2007. Do you have any “secret” memorable games against your son that we can present to our readers?
When we traveled Europe by car in the autumn of 2003 we played quite a lot of Blitz during our stay in Crete. Magnus had 1 or 1.5 minutes against my 9 or 8.5. Still he managed to win nearly all our games. I was quite proud in the Arctic Chess Challenge in 2007 though, just for meeting the top-rated player (Magnus) as late as round 6!
You compete in classical, rapid and blitz FIDE-rated tournaments from time to time. Do you also play online and, if “yes”, what site do you prefer?
In fact I mainly play online. I joined chess24 already back in 2013 or 2014 and have played too many games (as bukkerogtakker) ever since 🙂
Editor's note: "bukker og takker" literally means "bows and thanks" in Norwegian, i.e., it is a self-ironic way of saying "thank you for the applause" after a game.
Do you talk chess as a game with Magnus nowadays? Are there situations when you ask him for advice? Or, vice versa, maybe he loses a tough match and you, as a father and a passionate chess player, can’t abstain from recommending him something?
One of the things I learned early was fortunately to stop giving Magnus bad advice, and I tried to shield him from most of the advice from others as well. While we talk about his games sometimes, typically sometimes when I have had access to a computer, I don’t offer advice. When I played tournaments more frequently in the past I sometimes benefited from Magnus’ advice as well as from my opponents fear of Magnus preparation!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the users of the Play Magnus app? Any special tips on chess or life in general?
For many of us, chess improvement is mainly about not dropping pieces and pawns left and right. One winter several years ago I did some 15,000 tactics (at chess24) and that reversed my otherwise negative trend and rating loss for subsequent years.