Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Chess has been expe­ri­enc­ing a sur­pris­ing revival as of late, with the World Cham­pi­onships mak­ing head­lines for the first time in  years. As it was dur­ing the days of Bob­by Fis­ch­er and lat­er Gar­ry Kas­parov, the resur­gence is large­ly the doing of one man: Norway’s 23-year-old chess phe­nom, Mag­nus Carlsen. After hav­ing attained the lev­el of a grand­mas­ter at the age of 13, Carlsen had a string of spec­tac­u­lar vic­to­ries that cul­mi­nat­ed in his win over India’s Viswanathan Anand in the world cham­pi­onships this past Novem­ber. Carlsen also holds the high­est rat­ing in the game’s his­to­ry. Oh, and he beat Bill Gates in 79 sec­onds (here’s a video). What’s next for the reign­ing king of chess? A free iOS chess app, of course.

The Mag­nus Plays app, which allows users to play against a sim­u­lat­ed Carlsen, was  released this past Tues­day. If you’re wor­ried that your tech­ni­cal prowess may not stack up against the new face of chess, don’t wor­ry: the app relies on a vast data­base of moves that Carlsen used through­out the years, allow­ing you to play him any­where from the ages of 5 to 23. I’m not a par­tic­u­lar­ly adept chess play­er, but I didn’t have too much trou­ble with Carlsen at his youngest. The vic­to­ry bol­stered my con­fi­dence, so I decid­ed to skip to Carlsen’s cur­rent 23-year-old self. As much as I’d like to dis­cuss the out­come of the sec­ond game, it’s prob­a­bly best to skim over the results. Suf­fice it to say that I have room for improve­ment. Luck­i­ly, the app also has a “Train With Me” sec­tion, where Carlsen pro­vides video tuto­ri­als (some free, and some paid) on how to improve your game. If you’re feel­ing like you’ve lost a few IQ points after repeat­ed bouts with Flap­py Bird, Mag­nus Plays is a great alter­na­tive.


Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Sec­onds to the New World Chess Cham­pi­on Mag­nus Carlsen

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reen­act­ed with Clay­ma­tion

Chess Rivals Bob­by Fis­ch­er and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Cen­tu­ry’

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