Chess star wins prestigious award

Magnus Carlsen, the young Norwegian who’s recently ranked as the top chess player in the world, can now add another prize to his growing list of accomplishments. The Norwegian Parliament will bestow upon him the national honor of being named Årets Peer Gynt, the winner of this year’s Peer Gynt Prize.

Magnus Carlsen has brought fame and honour to Norway with his brilliant chess mastery. Now Norway is honouring him. PHOTO: Views and News/Nina Berglund

The prize is given every year to “a person or institution that has achieved distinction in society.” The recipient has been deemed to have distinguished him- or herself within Norway and also to have improved Norway’s international reputation.

Carlsen has certainly qualified in both categories. As a chess prodigy he started putting Norway on the international chess map as a child, and last year, at the age of 19, he became the youngest person ever to top the world chess rankings. He became a chess Grand Master at the age of 13.

“He’s a wonderful and important representative for Norway,” said the leader of the nomination committee for the Peer Gynt Prize, Marit Breivik, who achieved international acclaim herself for leading Norway’s women’s handball team to the top of the world rankings.

Carlsen, told he’d be getting the prize last week, called it a “great honor” to win the country’s annual Peer Gynt Prize, saying he appreciated “folks recognizing and being interested in my results at the chess board.”

Carlsen follows a long list of prominent Norwegians who have won the prize, which was first awarded in 1971 to former Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen, considered the father of modern Norway. Other winners have included actress Liv Ullmann, marathon star Grete Waitz, author Anne-Cath Vestly, Crown Princess Sonja, the musical group a-ha, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, explorer Thor Heyerdahl and football star Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

The award is made at the annual Peer Gynt Festival, held every year in August. Members of Parliament, the festival committee and former winners of the Peer Gynt Prize can propose candidates for the award, and the parliament chooses the winner.

The prize is named after the main character in Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s classic five-act play Peer Gynt, a satire on the Norwegian personality featuring a fairy tale character whose life was based on procrastination and avoidance but also pointed up self-sufficiency.

Views and News staff