Magnus Carlsen — a 29-year-old Norwegian chess grandmaster who’s now spent six years as the undisputed world champion — is a modern day Renaissance man. As detailed by The Guardian, Carlsen has climbed to sixth place in the worldwide Fantasy Premier League table. It’s a truly astounding feat given the fact that there are more than seven million players worldwide.
It was over a year ago that Carlsen retained the world chess championship by defeating American challenger Fabiano Caruana after 20 days, 12 classical draws (including a marathon 7-hour opening game) and a clean 3-0 sweep in the tie-breaking rapid-play format, but Carlsen has now swapped the delights of the Sicilian Defense and solving for a Queen’s Gambit Declined for the defending of Sheffield United’s John Lundstram and the attacking trifecta of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Son Heung-min.
Killing time before round 6 at @GrandChessTour Kolkata.My game against Vidit can be viewed at @chess24com : https://t.co/DcgVqKdJ6f pic.twitter.com/KEpF4oj9hS
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) November 23, 2019
So how in the hell does Carlsen balance being the world’s best chess player and fantasy footballer?
According to chess journalist Tarjei Svensen, who’s covered Carlsen since the days of his prodigious youth, it’s down to his passion for the EPL and his phenomenal, supercomputer-like memory.
“His level of knowledge about English football is amazing, which must help him a lot,” said Svensen. “It is a similar game, it requires planning and strategy. And he has an incredible memory which helps. He is really competitive at anything he does. Any competition he enters he really wants to win. Clearly there is some luck but when you do consistently so well, it isn’t luck. He says he has a lot of time on his hands because he doesn’t have a regular job. And he is just a huge football fan, he watches everything. I once went to White Hart Lane with him to watch Spurs. But he doesn’t have a favorite English team, he supports Real Madrid.”
Although he’s consistently scored high in the overall rankings and finished among the top 3,000 players during the 2017-18 season, Carlsen is more pragmatic about the results.
“In chess, you know when you’ve done well and when you’ve done poorly, but it’s hard for me to take praise for fantasy league, when I’ve just been lucky,” he says.
This qoute may have been included in the @guardian story, but since a lot of people are asking about my #FPL strategy, mine is the not so groundbreaking one of part stats and part gut feeling. Part @Opta-mist and part optimist. Patent pending— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) December 9, 2019
Here was Carlsen’s lineup for Gameweek 16. His team name is Kjell Ankedal.