Innovators who mix classical discipline with the latest tech-infused techniques sometimes hit so wildly popular. That looks to be the case with Magnus Carlsen, 2014 World Chess Champion and Norway’s first Fifa World Cup participant. In addition to that high-octane workload, he is principal of rival Magnus Chess Academy in New York, and CEO of SParter. As a chess player, Carlsen made his name winning the 2008 World Junior Chess Championship – it’s now the world junior Grand Chess Championship – and was also the 2007 FIDE World Youth Champion. He took the world title with a 71.5-move raise on the line in the epic Battle of the Berliner series in 2014.
Beating Carlsen on his home turf in 2014 was Sergey Karjakin, a shrewd defender who is now winning the whole series in Moscow. At this year’s semi-finals, a new champion will be crowned in just three weeks, with Anish Giri, 18, from India, and Oleg Stoszko, 20, from Ukraine, who were fifth and sixth respectively in 2014 now hoping to be the third.
Giri played stellar chess on his way to being the youngest ever cadet chess champion in 2013 – England’s Philip Walker was the last – and is a junior grandmaster (under 21) despite not yet turning 20. He grew up on the Asian chess circuit and is currently world rankings at 2,663 after over a year in chess prominence. His modest, unassuming personality belies his mental skills. He writes columns for many chess magazines and he visited Afghanistan recently to open an all-girls youth chess academy, co-founded by women world champion Viswanathan Anand.
Stoszko has an intriguing background. He was an international ice hockey player for Russia at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. After qualifying at the Olympiad, Stoszko tried his hand at Russian chess, where his raw skill made him a huge hit. He is almost world No 1 ranked in Russian chess, but he will never stand a chance against GM Sergey Karjakin in Russian chess. Stoszko was knocked out of the World Junior Chess Championship semi-finals in Lisbon last week after games against Nikolai Tokarchenko. He was only seventh in a World Grandmaster rankings shake-up at the end of last year – a year that was expected to bring him huge fame and fortune.
Stoszko’s US debut at the World Youth Chess Championship ended last September after he was placed 30th. He has been an outstanding athlete, and struggled to get his life back on track after his first
Grandmaster game at the Grand Chess Championship in 2003. At the break, note that he had a (questionable) career in modelling before this. Thanks to Alec Reiff for the tip. Read more in a Weblog: he is 30-minuted so far.
Mohammed ‘Makav’ Tamadopulle v David Ulrich