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Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, has just won his third elite tournament in a row in zestful style and is close to breaking his own all-time records for exceptional performance.

The Norwegian, 28, took first prize at this week’s Germany’s Grenke Classic with an unbeaten 7.5/9, following on from his victories at Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, in January and at Shamkir, Azerbaijan, last month.

Carlsen’s performance rating has surged to 2675, only seven points below his official monthly peak set in 2014 and 14 below his unofficial daily high. His next classical tournament will be Altibox Norway on home ground in Stavanger in June, and with a calculated target of 6.5/9 to break the record there he has excellent chances.

The yardsticks for a chess legend are Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer. Both had a powerful presence at the board, including an intimidating stare, which affected the confidence of rivals. One Kasparov opponent described the experience as being “bombarded with thought waves”, another as “playing someone with a thousand eyes who sees everything”.

Like his two iconic predecessors in their pomp, Carlsen radiates confidence at the board. His final three Grenke opponents, an eight-time Russian champion and the top grandmasters of Armenia and France, expressed bewilderment that their positions fell apart without apparent serious mistakes.

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In this ancient Chinese puzzle, White checkmates in three moves, moving each of his three pieces once only. How is it done?

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