Interview With World Champion Magnus Carlsen by NKR, before the WCC2018 began

World Champion Magnus Carlsen.  CREDIT – Kimberly Doo McVay

NRK recently conducted an interview with the World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, on twitter and here are the responses he gave.

According to their Wikipedia page NRK is the Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company, and the largest media organization in Norway. The World Chess Championship started on the 9th of November, in London, so the interview is of great interest to as many as care to know more about the Champ. This gives us an insight into Carlsen’s thoughts going into the tournament, at this time.

The interview was done in Norwegian, but chess journalist Tarjei J. Svensen, who also happens to be a huge Carlsen supporter, graciously did the English translation of the podcast for us. What an effort. He spent 4 hours in the process, providing us with the following responses, which are quite insightful.

For ease of reading, other details such as the Likes, Retweets, time of tweet, et cetera, have been removed.

Tarjei J. Svensen @TarjeiJS
Carlsen on his final GM norm (Dubai Open): «It came earlier than I expected. There was a period in the fall of 2003 when I had roughly 2450, thought about norms, but I wasn’t really close. But in the spring I had my breakthrough»

Carlsen on the attention he got as a teenager: «I have never been quite comfortable with it, but it obviously has improved with time. But back then it was mostly positive attention. Friends at school thought it was cool.»

Carlsen on @aryan_tari (Fellow Norwegian Grandmaster and recently crowned World Junior Champion): «He may have turned 19, but the fact that he is already above 2600 is brilliant. And he has several years to reach the next level, but that is where the development must be. Very few are able to break through as teenagers. He will get a lot of experience»

More on Tari: «He’s become pretty good to hold the strong players around 2700, so the challenge will be to win enough games to reach the next level. Then you have to be tougher and believe in yourself and have some positive experiences. But some experience will help.»

Carlsen on Tari’s WC title: Says he thought it was «incredibly cool» that he won, and that it’s a very prestigious list of champions the last 60 years, even though the quality of them varied last few years. «So much fun for him and for Norwegian chess»

Carlsen on why he is so good at classical, blitz and rapid, while Caruana tends to suffer: «I think it has a lot to do with playing style. Caruana is a very concrete player and in rapid & blitz you won’t have time to calculate if you are based on pure calculations.»

Carlsen: «It’s better to play more simple and play more on intuition. I kind of never got the thing myself because it seemed quite easy because ‘chess is chess’ and you should be good at everything if you have the playing strength»

Carlsen: «Some Chinese players suffered a bit because they are so much based on calculation. Look at Karjakin: Lots of experience, solid playing style, good technique. Perfect for blitz. He has achieved a lot in classical too, but still better results in blitz than classical.»

Carlsen: «I think rapid is the most difficult. It’s the hybrid, if you just have played a lot of blitz, you will often play too fast and superficial in rapid. In rapid you will think too much at the start, especially if you play with increments.»

Carlsen says he needs to improve as a rapid player, but thinks it’s very difficult: «It’s a lot more difficult than both blitz and classical. The last few rapid WC’s I have suffered a lot, this is something I want to improve. Results have been ok, but with many up’s and down’s.»

Carlsen says he needs to play more rapid if he is to improve, but it’s hard when he’s not playing any rapid tournaments.

Carlsen on playing so much online bullet, where he has recently proved to be #1: «It’s just about enough practice, and not only about chess. You also have to be able to move the cursor rapidly. But it’s a thing for me to show I can be better at more things.»

Carlsen on online bullet: «It’s also about having fun.» Saying he may have become tired of playing anonymously. He’s now mostly playing publicly on @lichess as DrDrunkenstein.

Carlsen on facing a younger opponent: «I am still waiting for the real young guys. I have Caruana, 2 years younger, So who is 3 years younger and Giri 4 years younger. Not many have been able to break through yet. These guys have been around for a while now.»

Carlsen’s point is that he feels he belongs to a different generation, along with Karjakin, than Caruana who he says broke through as late as 2012. «I don’t know which generation I belong to»

Carlsen: «It would be exciting to get younger people up, let’s say those born around 2000. Because that is really a different generation again. At this moment none of them have become part of the elite. »

Carlsen says there is a certain element of discrimination with invitations: «I was very lucky to be from the West. You get some more invitations to Western tournaments. In Wijk aan Zee once, I was invited, while Karjakin was not, even though he had performed better than me.»

Carlsen: «Wei Yi has received some invitations, but the last few years he didn’t perform so well. Then you won’t get many more chances. You have to take them. If you don’t get to play the very best, you won’t develop in the same way»

Carlsen: «I think Wei Yi will break through and become a part of top 10, but it may have taken a few years more than people expected already. What that have to say for his career, is hard to say. But it’s not ideal, because he doesn’t want to develop in open events.»

Carlsen asked about Lenier Dominguez, who is expected to transfer from Cuba to join USA’s national team. «Well, USA is doing a brilliant job buying players!»

Carlsen asked about help from US team for Caruana: «I know he already worked with Dominguez before the Candidates & I would guess there was some assistance during Olympiad. But it’s not too much, and it’s no secret that Nakamura and Caruana are not exactly best friends.»

Carlsen: «Caruana and Nakamura do fine on the national team together as long the team does well, all are happy.»

Asked about who he hangs out with in top events, Carlsen says: «To be honest, there are few I strongly dislike. Actually none. It’s a pity, but things are obviously different on and off the board.»

Carlsen: «Aronian is one person I get very well along with, but there have been times when I wanted to punch him during a game!»
Carlsen: «It’s especially in situations when I have a bad position, I start to get easily annjoyed by small things.» Says Aronian is «very good at behaving in an annoying way when he has a good position and has outplayed him.»
Carlsen says «Aronian has an arrogant aura» when he has a good position. «He is very good at it!»
Carlsen mentions Aronian, MVL and Nepomiachtchi as guys he hangs most out with during events, then adds: «Karjakin is also a nice guy, there are many of them.»

And on this note, we take a breather and we will bring you the second part of the interview during the next day off of the World Chess Championship Match going on in London!

Thank you for reading and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed the interview thus far. Do not forget to leave a word after the read.

2 comments

  1. Great interview indeed kudos to you Bruce you doing a great job I hope Africa will have such great chess writers like you.

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