One day after suffering his second loss at the Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norwegian chess champion Magnus Carlsen decided to skip the last day of the tournament and head home to the Oslo area. Carlsen, who complained on Tuesday that his famous brain “wasn’t functioning,” reportedly needs to rest before his next tournament in the US.
“It would be too dramatic to say that he’s pulling out of the tournament,” Carlsen’s manager, Espen Agdestein, told newspaper VG when confirming that Carlsen was traveling home on Wednesday. “Magnus has played nine of 10 matches and in the last round, Norway will be meeting Malaysia, which is ranked number 100 in the world. Magnus was supposed to meet a player with a rating of 2,300 (far below Carlsen’s), so then it’s just as well that Simen (Agdestein’s brother and chess master who once coached Carlsen) can play for Magnus instead.”
Carlsen had already indicated he would leave the tournament early after Tuesday’s crushing defeat to Croatia. Carlsen said afterwards that he was exhausted and at a loss for creativity and even “simple things” to improve his game.
Carlsen landed in fourth place on Wednesday among the strongest players in the Olympiad’s open class. He’d been in first place as late as Tuesday morning, with some chess commentators claiming that he still could have emerged as the tournament’s top player despite playing below his own standards for much of the week. That changed when he lost to Ivan Saric of Croatia, his second loss after also being defeated by Germany’s top player on Saturday.
“I think it was strange,” Carlsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after Tuesday’s loss. “I felt just fine before the round (against Saric), I was ready and in good humour. Then I sat down for the match and after a half-hour, I was just empty.”
Agdestein noted that there wasn’t much decisive play left for the Norwegian team in Tromsø either, since the results of the matches against Malaysia on Thursday won’t make much of a difference in the final standings. “If Norway was up against a stronger team, it would have been more important for Magnus to play,” Agdestein told VG.
Wednesday was a free day for all the players, who will meet for the final rounds on Thursday. After attending an event involving one of his sponsors, Carlsen was due to fly back to Oslo Wednesday evening. After resting at home in Bærum, he’s due to play at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, Missouri from August 27 to September 7.