Carlsen-Interview in The Hindu

I know Anand better this time: Magnus Carlsen

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Magnus Carlsen…readying for renewingh the battle with Viswanathan Anand. Photo: P.J. George

World champion is doing more of a general preparation for the match. Magnus Carlsen speaks ahead of World Championship rematch next month

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has had a shaky couple of months.

The 23-year-old, considered one of the strongest players of all time, was in a tussle with FIDE over the championship rematch with Vishwanathan Anand at Sochi, Russia, in November. He risked losing his title by delaying signing up till the last moment, reportedly over concerns about the political situation in Russia.

Carlsen also lost his last tournament before the championship to a rising star, Italian Fabiano Caruana. Meanwhile, Anand is coming in strong with a win at the Bilbao Masters. But none of this seems to have dented the Norwegian’s optimism.

He spoke to The Hindu recently in Oslo. Excerpts:


Viswanathan Anand has been in good form recently. Will that mean fighting chess in November or does it make him more predictable for you?

I think it’s a good thing for him that he has been playing well. I am happy for him. I have known him for many years; we have good relations. But obviously I don’t wish him well when he is playing me.

I think what has set his two very successful tournaments apart from what he has done in the last few years is consistency. He has been playing a lot more consistent; very few blunders.

His general level of chess is still extremely high, so when he doesn’t blunder he does very well.

How are your own preparations going?

They’re ok. I have been studying a lot of games from the past; what the past world champions have done and so on.

Perhaps more of a general preparation than concrete preparation for the match. It’s been a little bit different this time since the venue was ready but the contracts were signed no more than a month ago. Last time [in Chennai, November 2013] I knew like five months, maybe even six months, in advance when it was going to take place and where; so it was easier. This time it’s a little trickier, but on the other hand I know Anand better this time.

Can you elaborate on why you were initially reluctant to sign up for the match?

I am not going to say too much about it but it has nothing to do with Anand, obviously. I think Russia is a great venue for Chess; it has great traditions. But I don’t think this is the right time to be having an event between an Indian and a Norwegian in Russia. Then again, looking forward to the match now and another meeting with Anand.

In whose tradition do you see yourself? Or, do you see yourself breaking a completely new path?

I have been reading about some past champions. Without any false modesty, I find a little bit of myself in several of them.

I have been reading about the match between Fischer and Karpov that didn’t happen [In 1975, Bobby Fischer forfeited his title by refusing to play Anatoly Karpov]. I find a bit of myself in both those players.

Another I could compare myself to is actually an American: Reuben Fine, who was very strong but quit chess early on. I was just reading about him the other day and it didn’t strike me before but now it strikes me that what he was doing in chess is similar to what I am doing.

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