Norwegian chess champion Magnus Carlsen was clearly feeling like anything but a champion on Thursday, after losing yet another, and final, match at the Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger. He was so frustrated that he pushed away a reporter’s microphone from Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
The incident occurred after he lost a match to fellow Norwegian Jon Ludvig Hammer, who was the weakest player at Norway Chess and ranked number 61 in the world. He ended up beating Carlsen, which would have been unthinkable before the disastrous tournament for Carlsen began.
“It was very surprising,” NRK’s chess commentator Torstein Bae said in regards to how poorly Carlsen played. “Hammer played impressively and made many good moves, but Magnus played terribly.”
Carlsen himself was well aware of that, telling TV2 how enormously disappointed he was in his own performance.”It’s the same frustration as in earlier matches,” Carlsen said. “I don’t see anything, I overlook tactical things the whole time. Many times I’ve made a move, and then I see at once afterwords that it was bad and would have consequences.”
It remains unclear what’s gone wrong for Carlsen the past week, since he arrived at the tournament full of confidence, smiling and with those around him saying he was at his best. Instead, he started losing matches right away, and lost lots of valuable points in the world rankings.
On Wednesday, he did manage to beat rival Levon Aronian of Armenia but chastised himself after that match as well, calling it “possibly the worst match up to now in the tournament.” It was only after Aronian made a major blunder that Carlsen prevailed.
Not in the mood for an interview
Carlsen was thus highly frustrated when an NRK reporter walked alongside him after his TV2 interview and asked how he felt.
“You can just think yourself (how I feel),” Carlsen said.
“Can you describe it?” asked the reporter.
“It’s not that great,” Carlsen said, before pushing the NRK microphone away. At that point, Carlsen’s father stepped in as his son walked away and said “thanks, that’s enough for now.”
To see video of the exchange, click here (external link, in Norwegian).
Carlsen ended the tournament in seventh place among nine of the world’s best chess players. It’s an unfamiliar feeling to finish so poorly, and his manager Espen Agdestein tried to explain Carlsen’s frustration.
“First and foremost, I would say that Magnus has been incredibly good at talking to the media through the whole tournament,” Agdestein told NRK. “At one point or another, though, it has to stop, and we must respect that.” Commentators later suggested that Carlsen should take a vacation, and return to chess recharged at the end of the summer.