Play Magnus lets you challenge the highest-rated chess Grandmaster of all time, and learn from him

Callum Tennent
March 3, 2014

There’s more than enough chess apps out there to satisfy the needs of most fans of the game, but there’s not one that lets you challenge the nine-year-old brain of a Grandmaster. Until now, that is.

Play Magnus is officially endorsed by and created in co-operation with current World Chess Champion and highest Elo rated player of all time Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen was once the second-youngest Grandmaster of all-time, at just 13 and a half years of age. For anyone who didn’t get to challenge him at the time (presumably anyone reading this article, although if you did please speak up in the comments section), you now have his official app to find out just how you would have fared.

This is the fascinating hook of the Play Magnus app. You can challenge the mind of Carlsen from age five all the way up to his current 23-year-0ld self, and a digital Carlsen will even teach you along the way.

Video lessons from the man himself are sometimes free, sometimes priced at 69p a pop, which is the main source of revenue for the app itself. It’s completely free to download and you’re never charged for a game, with every iteration of Magnus available from the off. You can also pay 69p to remove in-app advertising.

Even if you’ve only a passing interest in chess, Play Magnus is a truly fantastic experience. From a visual standpoint alone the app is worth a look, with its clean visual style and smooth animations a refreshing change from the bulk of chess apps out there, most of which are either too bland or too garish.

The What Mobile team are hardly of Kasparovian ability, but even our basic level of collective wit and ability managed to beat a six-year-old Carlsen. The level of satisfaction obtained from besting the virtual mind of a child was disproportionately high. You’d have to be seriously gutsy to even think of taking on the current-day incarnation of the Norwegian genius.

One feature of the app which does only apply to those with a serious passion for chess is Carlsen’s on-going interaction with the app. Not only does the man himself stop by every now and again for a game or two with the highest ranked players, but the app’s best performers may even be invited to secret meet-ups for a real life match against chess’ number one competitor.

Currently only available on iOS, Carlsen and his team promise that an Android version is in the works. So, either head on over to the App Store to download it, or check out Carlsen’s promotional video below. What do you have to lose (other than the game, and quite possibly your dignity)?


About the Author

Callum Tennent

International playboy/tech journalist.

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