World Chess Championship: Chess becomes sexy again. But for Magnus Carlsen it’s business as usual

He will face challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi through 14 games for a tantalizing prize fund $ 2.24 million. Friday’s opening game was Saturday’s second game.
Not since the 1970s, when the American legend Bobby fischer burst onto the scene, did the game grab the world’s attention like that. Is chess sexy again? It doesn’t matter to Carlsen as he prepares to defend his title.

“The question is, how smart is the new sexy? And in this case, failures most certainly are. Personally, I don’t care,” he told CNN’s Connect the World in a television interview. exclusive before their first match.

A chuckle as he said this is a surprise, considering his stark demeanor throughout the day. It didn’t take long for him to let go of his smile and refocus on what he does best: winning.

“The World Championship is not so much about fun. In events like this, it’s more about business.”

Seize the moment

Carlsen strives to be indifferent to anything during the press conference and interview. But he has strong opinions on how the game should be tweaked to ensure it gets the attention of the current groundswell of interested gamers.

“I am someone who has long supported having faster matches in the world championship,” he said. “I think for people who don’t like chess at all, who don’t know anything about the game, you’re more naturally drawn to faster games.”

World Championship matches can go on for hours and often end in ties because mistakes are so rare. Carlsen’s last two league games have ended in ties and the players have had to be separated by tiebreakers.

It irritates the Norwegian grandmaster that he did not win straight away and aims to show what he is truly capable of against Nepomniachtchi.

“I didn’t really show what I was capable of at critical times,” he said. “I feel like it’s a lot to me and I’m just really, really looking forward to getting started and showing more of what I’m capable of than I have been able to. [so far]. “

Carlsen’s love for quick chess is not surprising, considering he is the current world champion in the “Rapid” and “Blitz” formats – games that typically last 15 minutes or less.

His decisive wins in previous league games were both in the quick format and there are plenty of videos on YouTube where his quick thinking is featured.

Computers are now powerful enough to calculate billions of possible combinations of movements in seconds, competently deciding on the best possible option. This makes the preparation more demanding and less enjoyable, and Carlsen believes that faster games would help solve this problem.

“If people are drawn to the game, if they like it, whatever their motivation, whether it’s because other people like it or because it comes from within, I think it’s great. all the same.”

The biggest ever?

Carlsen could rightly be considered the greatest chess player of all time. He has been a world champion for eight years and has the longest unbeaten run in history.

He only follows Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov in weeks spent as the highest rated player.

“I would say Garry dominated for 20 years. And even if I were to win this championship, I would still have a ways to go to reach his heights,” said Carlsen. “And if I don’t, it won’t make me lose sleep.”

The great Russian chess master Garry Kasparov in Lisbon on November 3.

Now a new challenger is being tipped to eclipse their two accomplishments. Alireza Firouzja broke one of Carlsen’s own records this week. The 18-year-old French Iranian player became the youngest to reach an Elo rating of 2,800, a feat achieved by only 14 other players in history.

While Carlsen is confident he can beat Nepomniachtchi – as the majority of pundits do – he’s not so sure about the new world, no. 2, Firouzja.

“His accomplishments are simply amazing, and it’s clear he’s been dubbed the crown prince for a long time already. He’s the one to watch out for both for me and for others. And I hope that will motivate us. all of them, ”he said.

For now, Carlsen reigns supreme in the chess world and will continue to do so for years to come if he can win in Dubai in the next fortnight.

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