Magnus Carlsen is a Norwegian chess grandmaster. At the moment, he is the highest rated grandmaster in the world and in history. At the tender age of twenty-two, he has accomplished what no other chess professional has before.
His highest official rating, as of January of 2013, is 2861. His latest performance at the famed Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee, however, will send him above 2870 Elo. That is unreal for any grandmaster, and is made all the more impressive by Magnus’ young age.
Magnus says he has no interest in the World Champion title. He feels that being the highest rated player in history is cool enough, and the layperson would likely agree.
But chess fans want to see Anand vs. Carlsen. They want to see if the young Norwegian prodigy has what it takes to dethrone one of the best chess players ever to sacrifice a knight. They want reassurance that the skill level matches the rating number.
Chess enthusiasts all over the world want to know if Magnus is fearful of defeat in a world championship match or if he’s being honest and truly doesn’t care about being awarded the most prestigious title in all of chess. Time will tell.
Is Magnus Carlsen a future world champion or will he continue to avoid contending and instead, reach for higher and higher Elo numbers? While there is something to be said about an OTB rating approaching 2900, people are eventually going to want to see blood drawn.
It’s the way we are.
No boxer ever received the World Heavyweight Championship belt because he could break a heavy bag in half with every punch. No, that fighter must compete with and defeat the current title holder, giving fans something to gawk at. While Magnus does defeat the competition he, for whatever reason, won’t go the Full Monte. At least, not yet.
While many Magnus fans believe he has what it takes to be World Champion, they must also realize that being the highest rated player on earth doesn’t intrinsically make him the best, or most powerful player alive. It’s a logical speculation, but a speculation nonetheless.
Chess fans say: Put up your dukes, Magnus; it’s proving ground time.