I have heard this statement many times, but I don't understand it. What does it mean exactly?

  • *go wrong is what i wanted to say
    – bretlee
    Jun 26, 2020 at 16:50
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    If we could quantify exactly how he did this, I think we'd all be super GM too... Jun 26, 2020 at 19:26
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    This is speculation, because I am not Magnus. But even in equal positions you can still make threats. Your opponent will probably spot them and defend. However he may choose to defend them in a suboptimal way, reducing his agency in the position. If he does that several times, it might be the case that he is so constrained that he will not be able to defend against your next threat. Why is Magnus so good at it? He is very precise, which means he can tell when a defense is imprecise. And he will ask you if you know it too.
    – B.Swan
    Jun 27, 2020 at 13:50
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    This is just what it means to be good at chess. If no one makes a mistake then the game is a draw, so skill means making fewer mistakes and putting your opponent in situations where they’re more likely to make mistakes. Jun 27, 2020 at 22:07

1 Answer 1


An interesting question!

I think it was Kramnik who, when asked who the best player on earth was, mentioned some other player. When asked why not Carlsen he replied: Magnus is from another planet!

That such a great player as Kramnik, conquereor of Kasparov, was in awe of Carlsen speaks volumes.

His "sight of the board" is phenomenal as is his ability to detect tactical possibilities.

How does he create opportunities for his opponents to go wrong?

The simple answer is by continuing to play!

He seems to absolutely love playing chess and plays out positions that many other GM's would pass up as too dry and drawish.

He has a superb ability to find resources in any position where other GM's cannot. Sometimes the advantages are only microscopic but Carlsen is willing to steadily seek out and accumulate these and convert drawish positions into winning ones.

Carlsen seems content to just get a playable position out of the opening rather than dominate with superior opening knowledge like Kasparov could do.

If you play through his games he often switches play back and forth from the centre then to one wing then to the other. He keeps sustained pressure on his opponent and squeezes as much as possible out of any position.

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