Carlsen, described by chess great Garry Kasparov as a once-in-a-generation talent, earlier achieved the highest rating in the history of the game, beating Kasparov’s 1999 record.
Carlsen missed by a few weeks becoming the youngest world champion, a record set by his one-time coach Kasparov in 1985.
The last Westerner to hold the world champion title was American legend Bobby Fischer who relinquished it in 1975.
A grandmaster since he was 13 and a fashion model in his spare time, Carlsen has drawn unusually big crowds and non-stop television coverage in his native Norway.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK said that more than 600,000 people or more than 1 out of 10 tuned in to its daytime broadcasts of the games, while tabloid VG said its online coverage generated 600,000 page views per game.
Carlsen made it to the Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013.
He also won the Chess Oscars, awarded by Russian chess magazine ’64’ to the world’s best player, for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.
It seems strange that the oft made claim of our education lagging behind most OECD countries that the sport of chess doesn’t feature more in Australia. Anyone having visited Indonesia would now that chess is very popular in that country. Some months ago, while visiting an retinal clinic in Liverpool, I noticed a few playing chess in a lovely plaza in a busy street closed to traffic. They appeared of foreign background, dark beards and white robed.
I believe chess is a compulsory subject in Russia. We have compulsory school uniforms and lots of sport but little chess. However, I think there is a revival of sorts. I noticed, with great pleasure and pride in my adopted country Australia, that the primary school in Bowral had part of the landscape of the school yard made into a giant chess board including large chess pieces made of some light weight material. The young kids regularly play that game.
Now, here is an interesting question. Why do men play chess but not often women?