The Wisdom of Magnus Carlsen

Der Spiegel did an interview with the #1 chess player in the world, Magnus Carlsen. He's 19 years-old. He comes off as incredibly normal. And very wise.

On the downsides of being too smart:

Of course it is important for a chess player to be able to concentrate well, but being too intelligent can also be a burden. It can get in your way.

On the advantages of being young and curious today — you have so much info available at a young age:

my success mainly has to do with the fact that I had the opportunity to learn more, more quickly. It has become easier to get hold of information. The players from the Soviet Union used to be at a huge advantage; in Moscow they had access to vast archives, with countless games carefully recorded on index cards. Nowadays anyone can buy this data on DVD for 150 euros; one disk holds 4.5 million games. There are also more books than there used to be. And then of course I started working with a computer earlier than Vladimir Kramnik or Viswanathan Anand.

On his thinking style, which will resonate with anyone who doesn't like formal schooling:

I’m not a disciplined thinker. Organisation is not my thing; I am chaotic and tend to be lazy. My trainer recognised that and as a rule allowed me to practise whatever I felt like at the time….When I am feeling good, I train a lot. When I feel bad, I don’t bother. I don’t enjoy working to a timetable. Systematic learning would kill me.

And perhaps the perspective that shows he will remain king of the hill for awhile:

Chess should not become an obsession. Otherwise there’s a danger that you will slide off into a parallel world, that you lose your sense of reality, get lost in the infinite cosmos of the game. You become crazy. I make sure that I have enough time between tournaments to go home in order to do other things. I like hiking and skiing, and I play football in a club.


George Friedman's clear overview of the U.S. geopolitical interests in Israel is an example of why I subscribe to his weekly newsletter.

Here's a good overview of the effectiveness of nutritional supplements. I take fish oil and a multi-vitamin.

Here's a "how to write" post, including: "Find the weak points in your argument and acknowledge them. Hell, celebrate them." 

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