March 10, 2013
AVOIDING THE MEDIOCRITY OF CONVENTIONAL EDUCATION:
Chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen enters endgame for world title (Stephen Moss, 3/10/13, The Guardian)
Nor should a kid who likes to fix cars or do carpentry waste time in school.Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen is the Tiger Woods of chess. In a good way. Just as Woods, before his fall, established an iron grip on golf, so Carlsen, at the age of 22, has made himself supreme in his own more esoteric field. He became world No 1 while still a teenager, and is now officially rated the strongest player of all time.What he is not, however, is world champion. That title has been held since 2007 by India's Viswanathan Anand, a great player but 20 years older than Carlsen and now rated only No 6 in the world. The time may be ripe for the young genius, and, in a three-week tournament that starts in London on Thursday, Carlsen and seven other top grandmasters will compete for the right to challenge Anand for his crown later in the year.The so-called Candidates tournament is the strongest ever, and the Norwegian will be warm favourite. [...]"If there was an interesting tournament," says Carlsen, "I thought there was no reason to go to school instead." "Most of us are occupied with mediocre activities in every direction," says Henrik, "so if there is someone with a talent and an interest to do something extraordinary, then why not? At least we should not stop him. If he wants to stop, fine." But Carlsen never did want to stop."Magnus is a maximalist," says his manager, Espen Agdestein. Whatever he does, he wants to do to the utmost. He is a fanatical follower of basketball, having to learn every detail about every player and every team. For a while, says his father, he was interested in poker and became brilliant at it. "He could do the statistics of the poker hands quicker than me," says Henrik, "and I'm quite good with numbers. In a few months he had picked up all he needed to be extraordinary. He likes to go into things very deeply."His father says the secret of nurturing his genius was to let him do what he wanted - a very Norwegian approach. "In the conventional sense he's lazy," says Henrik. "If you had told him to do something that he wasn't motivated to do, he wouldn't do it. But I don't think that sort of laziness hurts his chess. What's important is his interest, competitiveness and curiosity. He's always done what he wants in chess, and he's there because he loves to be there and fight, whereas many of his rivals have already spent a lot of their energy by the time they arrive at the table."
Posted by Orrin Judd at March 10, 2013 4:40 PM