World champion Magnus Carlsen has had a highly successful 2019, despite occasional lapses at fast time rates. He has won eight major tournaments, and has gone through the year unbeaten in slow classical games. His current streak stretches to 107 and he can set a new record at Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee next month.

Although José Capablanca enjoyed tennis and Max Euwe was a boxer in his youth, no previous world champion has matched Carlsen’s passion for football. As a child, he had an exceptional memory. At five, he could recall the areas, populations, flags and capitals of every country.

Now he has applied that to Premier League Fantasy Football, where last weekend he reached No1 among a global entry of seven million and announced it proudly on Twitter

He uses a mixture of statistics and intuition, and has an advantage in that Norwegian television has fewer restrictions on broadcasting of live matches than most other countries.

Carlsen will be in chess action again on Christmas Day, when the world rapid and world blitz championships open in Moscow. The event, originally staged in Saudi Arabia and officially named after King Salman, was moved from Riyadh after Israeli entrants were refused visas.


White mates in two moves. The black army is arranged provocatively in the form of a question mark, and the double puzzle is to find the optical trap which caused previous readers to claim a diagram error (easy) and to work out the correct mate in two solution (harder).

Click here for solution

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