The first coach of Magnus Carlsen is unique. He played football and scored for Norway!

Alexander Fedyakov

Alexander Fedyakov

The unique story of Carlsen's first coach

But in chess he achieved more serious success. He even took the record from his most outstanding student.

An amazing event happened at the Norwegian Chess Championship. The winner of the tournament was 55-year-old Simen Agdestein, the first coach of the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen. He became the oldest grandmaster ever to win a national championship.

It is noteworthy that exactly 40 years ago Agdestein became the youngest chess player – the champion of the country.

Agdestein played at the level of Nepomniachtchi

Simen Agdestein scored 8 points out of 9 possible. He showed a performance above 2800 points in the live rating.

The 55-year-old grandmaster was 1.5 points ahead of the closest pursuer and rating favorite of the tournament, Jon Ludwig Hammer. Agdestein played at the same level as Ian Nepomniachtchi in the recent Candidates Tournament 2022 in Madrid. Taking into account, of course, the level of rivals.

The game between Agdestein and Hammer became decisive in terms of the struggle for the first place. The veteran simply smashed his former student to smithereens, forcing him to surrender after only 31 moves.

Literally a week before the start of the tournament, Agdestein gave an interview in which he said that he was not in shape at all, he felt old and tired, and made many mistakes. But at the Norwegian Championships, he was just in amazing shape and punished all the young competitors!

Record holder for all time

Agdestein is from a chess family. He played chess almost from birth. At the age of 15, a talented guy became the champion of Norway for the first time. This was way back in 1982. Then Simen set an absolute record, becoming the youngest ever winner of the national championship.

40 years later, at 55, he became the oldest winner of the Norwegian championship. In fact, this is just a unique achievement!

Simen Agdestein

Simen Agdestein

Photo: From the personal archive of Simen Agdestein

By the way, Agdestein’s student Magnus Carlsen tried to break Agdestein’s record in 2005. Yes, yes, Simen founded a chess school and worked with the current world champion from the age of nine. In that Norwegian championship, the teacher and the student fought until the last round, and the fate of the first place was decided in a tie-break. A more experienced chess player won.

In 2006, Carlsen took revenge, also defeating his teacher in a tie-break. But he was already a few months older than Seamen in 1982. But who knows, maybe Magnus will still win the Norwegian championship at the age of 56.
By the way, another interesting intersection: the manager of the Norwegian world champion is Agdestein’s older brother, Espen.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen

Photo: Getty Images

Football or chess?

However, Simen is not only a great chess player, but also an outstanding football player. Agdestein played at a high European level: he spent eight years with Luna, played 92 matches and scored 37 goals.

“For quite a long time I combined football and chess. But in football I didn’t have the confidence I had in chess. At the board I was responsible for myself, as a team player I had to adapt to everyone. It was surprising for me to be invited to the Norwegian national team. There were moments when I had to choose between playing for the national team against Scotland or flying to the super tournament in Tilburg, where the best chess players in the world played.”

Scored a goal - eat a horse.  Why champions change sports
Scored a goal – eat a horse. Why champions change sports

He played eight matches for the Norwegian national team and even scored one goal in a friendly match. Certainly not Erling Haaland. But after all, Holland cannot boast of becoming the Norwegian chess champion.
A cruciate ligament injury interrupted his football career. But in chess, Agdestein achieved more: at the peak of his career, he was one of the 16 strongest grandmasters in the world. Simen is probably the best chess player among football players. Or vice versa, the best player among chess players. And so, and so fair.

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