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Play Magnus is a commercial computer chess mobile app available for the iOS and Android mobile operating systems.[2][3] The software is named after Magnus Carlsen and features adjustable difficulty levels for chess players of various skills.[4][5]

Play Magnus
Play Magnus.jpg
Original author(s)Tord Romstad et al.[1]
Developer(s)Play Magnus AS
Initial release1 January 2014; 5 years ago (2014-01-01)
Operating systemiOS, Android
TypeComputer chess
LicenseCommercial software



The program is a chess engine tuned to play at nineteen different skill levels based on Magnus Carlsen's ability at given ages.[6] Through the app, users can win the chance to play against Carlsen in person.[7]

Users earn points by playing chess, or can purchase points for money. Points can be spent on querying the engine for move suggestions, and on the undo function (the cost of this is higher at the higher levels). The undo function can be used without points, but doing so leaves the user unable to earn points for that game. A large points balance is required to stand a chance of playing Carlsen in person.

After each game, the app gives the user a chance to "share" their result on Facebook or Twitter, or to save the game as PGN. It also includes various quotes from Magnus that are presented between games.

The first skill level ("age 5") plays moves completely at random.[8]


The development of Play Magnus began after Carlsen founded Play Magnus AS and invested his own money and funds from investors into the company.[6] It was developed by a team including Tord Romstad, one of the creators of Stockfish,[9] who said he based the engine on his Stockfish predecessor "Glaurung" to avoid copyright issues with Stockfish itself.[10] Romstad also said they "intentionally made the progression up to about age 14 a bit more linear than it was in reality (in an attempt to make the progression not be too steep, but user feedback indicates that it might be too steep nevertheless)".[11]

Play Magnus was released in January 2014 for iOS and late 2014 for Android. It received close to one million downloads by November 2016.[9] It has risen to 2.8 million downloads as of December 2017.[12]


  1. ^ "Play Magnus".
  2. ^ "Play Magnus - Chess on the App Store".
  3. ^ "Chess Free - Play Magnus - Android Apps on Google Play".
  4. ^ "'Play Magnus' for iPhone pits you against a young chess grandmaster". 28 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Play Magnus for iPhone Let's You Play Against Chess Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen". 1 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b Paul, Aniek (10 November 2014). "Magnus Carlsen parlays chess success into hot tech start-up".
  7. ^ Buist, Erica (11 May 2016). "Magnus Carlsen: the cool grandmaster who cries when he loses to himself". The Guardian.
  8. ^ The Guardian newspaper
  9. ^ a b "This Simulation Of Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen Is Ready To Checkmate You - Fast Company". 14 November 2016.
  10. ^ Developer Tord Romstad's comments
  11. ^ Comment by developer Tord Romstad on Reddit
  12. ^ Staff writer(s) (15 December 2017). "Magnus Carlsen jakter 41 millioner kroner". Hegnar (in Norwegian).

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