Magnus Carlsen's loss at the London Chess Classic 2012: The price of an all-night drinking session

Written by Ravi Varman
- Updated: May 9, 2023

Magnus Carlsen, one of the greatest chess players of all time, achieved a significant victory at the London Chess Classic in 2012. However, the victory was nearly jeopardized by an all-night drinking session with his friends before the game. Carlsen, who is known for his focus and dedication, recounts his experience of playing against British Grandmaster Luke McShane in a podcast. In this game, Carlsen was completely hungover and struggled to get his thought pattern going, with McShane close to winning. Carlsen took a risky variant, and McShane blundered on move 27, leading Carlsen to win the game eventually. This article discusses the impact of the all-night drinking session on Carlsen's game and his success in the tournament.

Key points:

  • Carlsen recounts how he went out bowling with his second, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and friends the night before his game with McShane. The casual evening turned into a night of drinking.
  • Carlsen hardly slept, and the following day he staggered onto the hall, completely hungover.
  • During the game, Carlsen struggled to get his thought pattern going and considered resigning at one point because he was being outplayed badly.
  • McShane advanced on the kingside and almost won, but he blundered on move 27, allowing Carlsen to get back in the game and eventually win.
  • The victory at the London Chess Classic in 2012 was significant for Carlsen. He broke Garry Kasparov’s rating record of 2851 and finished ahead of Vladimir Kramnik.
  • Carlsen admits to resorting to "alcohol therapy" on a few occasions to deal with disappointing performances. However, he does not consider himself an alcoholic and has different priorities for traveling and playing.

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