Written by By Staff Writer
Magnus Carlsen’s personal game was rooted in the present as he arrived in New York to tackle Magnus Carlsen’s professional game at the Grand Chess Championship this week.
Long famed for his chess longevity, the world number one says he’s happy not to have a major incentive to win.
As he approaches the end of a feat he doesn’t believe could be achieved in his lifetime, he’s as focused as ever to achieve his ultimate aim, but doesn’t allow a championship battle with, for example, Garry Kasparov, to distract him from the task at hand.
“People say, ‘He might be too old to win it,’ but yeah he’s certainly aged well,” Carlsen, 27, said during a press conference at the city’s Waldorf Astoria hotel Wednesday.
“Hopefully I will be able to set an example of a good former champion going out with a bang.”
Striking a pose: Magnus Carlsen. Credit: Jeffrey Grossman/Corbis via Getty Images
‘First lady of chess’
Of a fellow former Grandmaster who once competed against him in the 1980 Moscow Games, he added: “That is still the record that applies, at least in my opinion. He was just 18 years old. It was in the national finals. I would still defend against that match.”
Another example, he said, was his match with Latvian Viswanathan Anand, when both played the All England tournament, in 2005.
“I’m not actually very good at assessing how the opponents have played. To me the most important thing is to have a good game.”
The Korean-born Norwegian said he would like his daughter to become the next prodigy, perhaps for the fifth time, so she could benefit from his own longevity on the international chess circuit.
“If she starts playing the game early, that would be cool. She should have all the tools,” he said.
“It’s possible that she will have the desire to go on and become a great player. Hopefully the fifth time would be the charm!”
Carlsen has had nine tournaments in 2016 to increase his profile as he goes up against Russian grandmaster and defending world champion Vladimir Kramnik in the world championship match which concludes in November.
After his New York jet-set press conference he’ll be heading to Frankfurt where he’s scheduled to play seven games in a single day.
One of them will be with Robert Ivandel from Belgium and another with ex-world champion and current London chess coach, Fabiano Caruana.
At the same time as the Carlsen matches are taking place Carlsen is playing in an over four hour-long exhibition match against seven-time world champion Anatoly Karpov in Moscow.
The match may be non-competitive but Carlsen had a message for Karpov — they’re on course for a $500,000 bonus: “If we can beat [him], that’s a tremendous bonus.”
The other five games — Carlsen and Ivan Ignatov, Anish Giri, Bahman Golami, Huynh Thanh To and Sergei Boiukevich — are all live online for free.
Guarding against boredom
Carlsen’s success is his own doing, he says.
“Of course it’s great to have one of the biggest deals in sport around me but that doesn’t mean I have to put in a hundred hours a week. It’s not a matter of hours, it’s a matter of priorities,” he said.
“I’m going to have to continue it all. I’m going to try to manage my time better — that’s a huge challenge to manage — but I’m not going to stop now.”
Indeed, he still hopes to become the youngest grandmaster ever, and also break Kasparov’s own record to be ranked number one in the world, since Kasparov lost the world title match to Anatoly Karpov in the first match of this rematch in 1985.
“I don’t know if I will be able to do it but there’s always a chance,” he said.