– I sat at night and put my hands in cold water. I could not sleep. My shoulders were hurting and I was hyperventilating. The body collapsed and no doctor could explain why. Life was terrible, and I lived in a physical nightmare.
Simin Agdistin tells NRK. The profile of Norwegian chess here offers a rare insight into a dramatic time – In the early nineties – When he went from being on top of the world at chess and a national team player at soccer, to barely being able to walk.
About an endless exhausting time, with constant setbacks, during which, as the country’s first chess grandmaster, he finally lost the ability to concentrate.
– After the last cruciate ligament operation, it took half a year before the height decreased, and the system collapsed. There was something about this process that my body just wasn’t accepting. It was absolutely terrible, he says.
Simen Agdestein was multi-talented as a young man. At the age of 17, he earned a place on the junior football team. The following year he became a chess grandmaster, at that time the youngest grandmaster in the world.
– Semin had everything a young man could dream of. He was handsome, good at chess, and a sought-after football player. He was a contradictory man, apparently very successful, but at the same time very lost.
These words belong to Atle Grün, international chess champion and author of a modern book on chess from the 1980s onwards, seen through the eyes of Simin Agdesten.
The book “The Chess That Was”. “The Story and Times of Simin Agdesten” is depicted as a psychological portrait of an awkward multi-talent who does not know what to do next.
Through football, Semien received a number of exciting professional offers, including at Besiktas, Flamengo Juniors, Aberdeen and Rosenborg, but he rejected them all. The author says adulthood was difficult to navigate, and he ended up losing everything.
- Do you suffer from bad thoughts? Norway’s mental health helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 116 123. You can also chat online. You can remain anonymous and they have a duty of confidentiality.
Off the cliff
At the age of 21, Agdestein made his debut for the national team away against Italy. With success also came the external pressure of expectations that he struggled to overcome.
– Very few people cared about my performance in chess, but with football it suddenly became different. Everyone should have an opinion about what you did on the football field. Plus, I wasn’t particularly mature at the time and didn’t know how to deal with adversity, Agdestein says.
In May 1991 he suffered his first knee injury. When he returned for the start of the series in the spring of 1992, he witnessed for the first time in his career being substituted during a game. It settles in the body.
He says: – For the first time I started suffering from hyperventilation and I could no longer control my body.
The pain was exacerbated when Agdesten tore his cruciate ligament in a meeting with Sogndal in June 1992, but finished the match. Not only that, Agdestein played all 90 minutes a week later for Lyn away to Tromsø.
And after that he didn’t kick a football.
– Even though this was a dark time, I tried to keep my spirits up. In between, I traveled to Africa to write my master’s thesis in social sciences, about the transportation sector in the far south of the continent.
Eventually he was identified as disabled in football and had to face the fact that his career was over.
– After the injury he suffered in 1992, I admired the way Simin took control of his life. How he sought harmony, but at the same time challenged himself. He took singing lessons in the early 2000s and participated in “Skal vi Danse” in 2006. His lifelong self-actualization project fascinates me, says Gröne.
Chess as a standard
Agdestein himself feels that he has lived his life after the handbrake injury. He lost a lot of energy and learned to live with knee pain.
Today’s form is reflected in how he does it on the chessboard.
As a chess line teacher at the best gymnasium in Norway, he helped Magnus Carlsen on his way to the top. This summer, Simen Agdesten became Norwegian chess champion for the ninth time and leads the peerage calendar with him.
– I paid attention to most things, although everything after 1992 goes up and down a lot. As a 56 year old, my head is working better. The fact that I won the NM title for the second year in a row proves that I’m not old yet.
- For the record: Author Atle Grønn is connected to NRK as a chess expert.
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