It may seem a polite game of quiet wit, but chess grandmasters are really out for blood. The number-one chess player in the world, Norway's Magnus Carlsen, tells Bob Simon that he especially enjoys making his opponent suffer in a game that is downright war. Simon profiles the 21-year-old chess prodigy for 60 Minutes on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
What could be more satisfying than playing chess brilliantly? For Carlsen, it doesn't get much better. The results of a brilliant play on an opponent can provide even more fun, however. "I enjoy it when I see my opponent...really suffering. When he knows I have outsmarted him," Carlsen says with a wicked grin.
That's what often happens to the opponents of the game's number one player. They get outsmarted and they get taken down. But Carlsen occasionally loses a game himself. "If I lose just one game...I just really want to get revenge," he tells Simon.
Carlsen is the superstar of the game, a status he demonstrates for 60 Minutes cameras by playing 10 expert players at once, without ever looking at the boards. It's a status he has been working on since he was a child. When he was 13 years old, he drew with Garry Kasparov, the Russian many consider the best player ever. Kasparov wasn't happy. It could have been different says Carlsen, if he hadn't been intimidated during the game of speed chess. "When I actually got to a winning position, I had little time, I was nervous and I couldn't finish him off," says Carlsen, whose prize for this feat was an ice cream at McDonald's.
Nowadays, as the world's top player, Carlsen gets more than ice cream for his efforts. Though the prize money in chess is not enormous, add to that the money he makes for endorsements and modeling, and he's making about $1.5 million a year.
As a warm-up for Sunday's story about this grandmaster, 60 Minutes' webcast, 60 Minutes Overtime, will feature, America's greatest chess grandmaster who died in 2008. 60 Minutes Overtime features originally produced content and archival material about the subjects and characters in 60 Minutes stories and the reporters who work on them.