The man who was part of Viswanathan Anand’s team for 10 years is switching camp after a sabbatical. Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen will be Magnus Carlsen’s first full-time coach since Garry Kasparov left in 2010.
Nielsen, 40, worked with Anand from 2002-12 and was part of all his successful World Championship campaigns. He will also be the first travelling coach Carlsen’s hired, the player’s manager, Espen Agdestein, told HT on Tuesday. That’s possibly the equivalent of Roger Federer hiring Tony Roche in 2005 as his personal coach, only this arrangement won’t be a “handshake agreement” with no contract.
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“We are looking at a one-year deal beginning after the World Championships,” said Agdestein whose younger brother and Grandmaster Simen was Carlsen’s first coach. Kasparov never travelled with Carlsen and GM Agdestein once, in 2004, said his manager.
Nielsen helped Carlsen at the candidates’ meet in London earlier this year, which he won to be eligible to challenge Anand, a five-time world champion and undisputed king of chess since 2007. But the Dane stepped aside for this contest, saying having known both players well it wouldn’t be fair of him to help anyone.
“We understand and respect Nielsen’s keeping out of this,” said Carlsen’s manager.
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GM Agdestein and Norwegian GM-in-waiting Torbjorn Hansen put Carlsen through the ropes from when he was nine to becoming a grandmaster at 13. Carlsen then joined the Norges Toppidretsgymnas (The Norwegian College for Top Athletes) for regular classes under Agdestein but left at 19 when he was No 3 in the world.
That’s when the arrangement with Kasparov happened. Carlsen even has Kasparov’s database of 20 years or so, something he describes as pure gold, according to GM Agdestein. But since 2010, Carlsen has worked alone.