- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2014

It may have been the oddest time for a quick power nap ever.

Tthe chess world is still buzzing over images posted to social media that appear to show world chess champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway actually falling asleep at the board during this week’s Game 8 of his world championship match with Indian challenger Viswanathan Anand of India in Sochi, Russia.

The game’s live video feed, beamed around the world, showed the 23-year-old champion slumped over to his side at least twice with his eyes closed, while waiting for his opponent to make a move early in the game.

Even after reviving, Carlsen wore a tired look for the remainder of the game and appeared at the post-game press conference Wednesday with dark lines under his eyes.

“I was not in the best shape at the start,” Carlsen admitted afterward, “but felt fresher as the game progressed, for sure.” Asked if he wanted to elaborate on why he was not in the best shape, the champ replied, “No.” 

Even more remarkably, Carlsen managed to draw the game easily in 41 moves even while having the disadvantage of the Black pieces. World-class chess can require intense concentration over up to seven hours of play, with even the tiniest slip liable to lead to disaster.

Anand, 44, appeared noticeably fresher during the game, although he still trails in the match by a point with just three games left to play.

The image of the sleeping champ was quickly posted to Twitter, with fans remarking on Carlsen’s remarkable ability to conduct a chess game in his sleep.

The young champion, known for his penchant for sleeping into the afternoon when not competing, may have had himself to blame. He and Anand in the previous game played an epic 122-move draw, the second longest game in world championship match history. Carlsen insisted on playing out the contest long past the point when most grandmasters said a win was impossible.

There was speculation during that game that the champion hoped to tire out his older opponent by playing on, but the exact opposition seems to have happened.


• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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