Demolition, not defeat, is the goal of 21-year-old Magnus Carlsen. No, he's not a boxer, not a wrestler. Rather, Magnus is the top chess player in the world, and he takes it on like an athlete. First, there's the tough physical workouts to prepare himself for the tough mental workout of competition. And then there's the attitude. Magnus, who comes from a nice Norwegian family, tells Bob Simon: "I enjoy it when I see my opponent really suffering, when he knows that I've outsmarted him." But really, he's a nice guy - an athlete and fashion model in addition to being the top-ranked chess player in the world. Bob Simon profiles Magnus Carlsen.
The following is a script from "Mozart of Chess" which aired on Feb. 19, 2012. Bob Simon is the correspondent. Michael Gavshon and Drew Magratten, producers.
Magnus Carlsen is the best in the world. He is a 21-year-old Norwegian, reigns supreme in a sport played by 500 million people. It is chess. Many don't think of it as a sport because nobody moves, but chess masters will tell you it can be more brutal than boxing. That's because at the championship level, the objective is not only to win, but to demolish your opponent. That can take hours, the best players need extraordinary endurance...so most of them are young. Magnus is the youngest number one ever. And no one can explain to you how he does what he does. It seems to come from another world, which is why he has become known as the Mozart of chess.
Just look at what he is doing - competing against 10 players simultaneously. That, in itself, is not extraordinary. But Magnus cannot see the boards. He is facing the other way. So he has to keep track of the positions of 320 pieces blind. And the number of possible moves? Infinite. Magnus comes out on top.
Bob Simon: That's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Do you have any idea how extraordinary this looks to--
Magnus Carlsen: No. It's one of the amazing things in chess that you can-- you don't really need the board. You can just keep it--
Bob Simon: But it transcends chess. I mean, I just can't fathom what you've just done. It's just--
Magnus Carlsen: Uh-huh (affirm).
Simon: --it seems like it's supernatural.
Last December, we caught up with him at the London Chess Classic. He arrives with his constant companion - his father. Magnus will play against eight other top ranked players. But he is the star as celebrated in this world as Eli Manning is in his.
[Malcolm Pein: The world number one player from Norway, Magnus Carlsen.]
Today, Magnus is playing America's number one, Hikaru Nakamura. The match will last four hours and there will be no breaks. Magnus will go on a stroll now and then. But his mind won't be going anywhere. He says he's concentrating not only on this game, but on other games played by other masters at other times which he might want to draw on now. Ten thousand of them. We gave him a test.
Magnus Carlsen: It was played right here in London. Simpson's on the Strand in 1859. I don't know the month or day.
Simon: You got it wrong.
Magnus Carlsen: Not '59?