The blindfold forced Carlsen to visualise the moves on his three opponents’ chessboards, a feat made unusually difficult by the fact that the grand master had to play each player out of sequence.
Carlsen's opponents were the hedge fund billionaire J. Christopher Flowers, who is ranked about 1,900 in chess worldwide, Paul Hoffman, the chief executive of the Liberty Science Center; and Gbenga Akinnagbe, who plays Chris Partlow in The Wire.
The half-an-hour video, recorded at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York on May 5 has more than 100,000 hits on YouTube, with chess aficionados everywhere expressing their amazement.
”I don’t like that they call him the Mozart of chess. He is his own man and doesn’t need wacky comparisons to other fields to justify his greatness.” AnthonyAllGood wrote in a comment on the video-sharing site, while Kristoffer Stalberg commented ”No person makes me more proud to be Norwegian than Magnus. I can't even begin to understand how a mind like his works. Hope to see more of this.”
The 24-year-old is currently the highest-ranked chess player in the world. He does not, however, hold the blindfold simultaneous chess title. In 2011, German grand master Marc Lang played 46 opponents in an epic 23 hour session with an epic 25 wins, 19 draws and just 2 losses.
Though Carlsen won his games, he admitted to feeling the pressure, mainly due to the short time he had to make his moves.
”Now it was really stressful with the limited amount of time,” he said on stage after the game. “With the clock it’s a different matter entirely.”
Dylan McClain, who formerly edited the New York Times' chess column, pointed out on the Chessbase blog that the match was different from most other blindfolded simultaneous games because he did not have to make moves on each board in a predictable order.
“Carlsen had to respond to each board out of order, but depending solely on when his opponents made their moves,” he said. “Two people who I know were stunned that Carlsen was able to do this were Ashley (he was shaking his head afterward) and Kasparov (I know this through a source and a friend).”