On Tuesday Chess World Champion Magnus Carlsen launched his very own chess app. At a press conference in Oslo, the 23-year-old Norwegian presented the app Play Magnus, with which chess fans can play against Carlsen at different levels since the age of five.
Carlsen says he launched the app to make chess more popular. In the text alongside the YouTube announcement video, he writes:
“I spent some time over the past few months creating something to give back to the chess community. As many of you know, I want to help the chess community spread the game we love to more people around the world, with a special focus on young people. The Play Magnus app is my first step in helping make that happen.”
The basic idea of the app is that chess fans get a chance to play against Carlsen. It is a chess engine set up at different levels, which correspond with different “ages” of the world number one.
As we know, Carlsen was pretty strong at a young age. At yesterday's press conference, 23-year-old, present-day Carlsen demonstrated his app by playing a few games against his younger self.
“He's really confident, I can recognize that in myself.”
Carlsen beat his 12-year-old self, but lost to the 14-year-old.
“I thought I tricked him. I was wrong.”
Apparently this had happened before. Against Reuters he said:
“He is really tricky. Even Magnus at 11 years old was a very gifted tactician. A while ago I played as a test Magnus [aged] 14. I outplayed him at some point positionally. And just boom, boom, he tricked me tactically. But he makes mistakes as well, so I just have to be patient.”
The start screen of the app
According to Norwegian tabloid Dagens Næringsliv the app was developed by a new company with the same name: Play Magnus Carlsen. Majority share holder is the private company Magnus Chess AS, while Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein owns 15 percent and general manager Katherine Anne Murphy five percent. 20 percent of the company is owned by the investor and entrepreneur Anders Brandt, who was also the man behind the idea and now the chairman of the company.
How dare you, playing a game against a 5-year-old!
Reportedly the development costs were 3 million Norwegian kroner (US $496,353 / €361,284). Revenue will come from paid services such as access to training videos with Carlsen (US $0.99/€0.89 each), a premium version (also US $0.99/€0.89) and the opportunity to join a tournament where the winners will play against the World Champion (on a real chess board, at a “secret location”).
Upgrading unlocks more options...
...and there are in-app videos
The app is available for free but at the moment only for the iPhone. You can find it here in the App Store. And there are Facebook and Twitter accounts: www.facebook.com/playmagnus and twitter.com/playmagnus