Crashing his jacket with rage against the ground or snubbing fans and journalists after a defeat. Magnus Carlsen He has done that several times. But he loses very few games, which explains the great problem of his father, Henrik: "It is very difficult to motivate him. I tell him that, although above number one there is nothing, underneath it is very cold ". If he were not a champion, the Norwegian would earn much less money and stop advertising luxury brands, such as Porsche or G-Star clothing.
"Being a world champion has become a part of my identity, so we are talking about something very serious. Actually, what matters to me is not the title, but someone else, "says Carlsen in the latest issue of the magazine Time. What has a lot to do with what he said to EL PAÍS two years ago in New York, the day after he renewed the title with a lot of troubles (in the fast-game tie-break) against the Russian Sergey Kariakin: "I recognize that My main problem is the control of my emotions; I must work seriously in psychological preparation. "
That surprising sincerity is common in Carlsen, a fierce competitor and winner who does not feel sorry for his victims – he has said several times– and that obtains its greater pleasure when it visualizes how it has managed to overcome the resistance of its rival, sometimes after seven hours of torture. A psychiatrist who knows Carlsen's life in detail may link that pleasure with the harassment that little Magnus suffered at school when his classmates saw him as weird and gifted. His parents had seen him much earlier, at four or five years old; none of his biographies omits that at that age he recited from memory all the countries of the world and the municipalities of Norway, or that he solved very complicated puzzles.
Carlsen's adolescence is similar to that of Caruana in that both were bored in class and that traveling a lot was one of the therapies. But with a very important difference: after a gap year when he was 13, dedicated to touring Europe playing tournaments and visiting culturally interesting sites, Magnus returned to school and finished high school, with a special plan for great athletes.
Meanwhile, Carlsen left marks of extreme precocity: grandmaster at age 13, number one for the first time at 18, world champion at 22 … which in turn generated another feat: turning chess into a very sport popular in Norway, where it was almost unknown. One of many examples: the management of one of the most important banks in the country ordered to block in all the branches the Internet pages that retransmitted their World Cup matches against Anand in Chennai (India), after verifying an alarming drop in productivity of the employees.
Everything indicates that the decision to go to school until the age of 16 is key so that Carlsen is not an obvious mental patient, like another champion as great as he, the American Bobby Fischer (1943-2008). The Icelandic psychiatrist Kari Stefansson, who treated Fischer a lot in the last years of his life, explains it this way: "Normal people almost always think inside a box, with some limits. The geniuses often come out of that box, and then they produce genius. But sometimes they do not know how to return, and we call that madness. " Several psychiatrists consulted by this newspaper agree that Fischer's scant education contributed to the development of mental illness. At the moment, Carlsen has always returned inside the box, and there is no risk of him stopping.