In a podcast with his friend Odin Blikra Vea, world champion chess player Magnus Carlsen recounts a drunken night at a London bar that almost cost him the London Chess Classic in 2012. The night before his 22nd birthday game against British Grandmaster Luke McShane, Carlsen, second Ian Nepomniachtchi, and friends went out bowling in celebration. Nepo wisely left after bowling, but Carlsen stayed out all night drinking and hardly slept. He then staggered onto the hall completely hungover and struggled in the game. McShane opened strongly and was close to winning until he blundered, and Carlsen won his match with black pieces.
Magnus Carlsen followed a similar pattern of heavy drinking to control his mood during the New York 2016 match against Sergey Kariakin after losing eight previous drawn games. He got drunk with his team and won five games in total. Carlsen claims this was the only time he used alcohol for therapy, but he previously dealt with a disappointing performance in the 2012 World Rapid & Blitz Championship in Astana by drinking enough vodka from the mini-bar in 15 minutes. He admits, however, to not playing particularly well in the match.
Although he claims to not drink much, Carlsen acknowledges the need to preserve his energy if he is going to travel a lot and play frequently. He maintains he is not an alcoholic but needs different priorities if he is going to perform successfully in chess tournaments.