Simon Usborne: Was I dazzled into defeat by the movie star looks?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It's funny, because among all the excuses I could find for my hopeless defeat at the unshakeable hands of the world's best chess player – my ineptitude, the flimsiness of the fold-up board I pulled out of my pocket – Magnus Carlsen's devastating good looks didn't feature.

But, hey, I suppose he is quite handsome, no? In my interview with the Norwegian prodigy, before last December's London Chess Classic, I suggested Matt Damon could play the lead in a biopic. Perhaps I was thrown by his tousled hair and jutting jaw in the way I might have been, say, go-karting with Jenson Button.

Anyway, who needs to be hot when you're 20, a national hero and ridiculously good at chess? Just how good became clear eight moves into our match. "Checkmate," Carlsen said, dryly. Oh, you've won. Perhaps to soften the blow, he told me he'd once beaten a player in FIVE moves, adding: "He was eight years old."