Home Championships The calm before the storm – Opening press conference for the 2018 World Chess Championship

The calm before the storm – Opening press conference for the 2018 World Chess Championship

by Tendai Mubayiwa
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There was probably one final opportunity to see World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana both smiling before their chess match in London at the Opening Press Conference.

There were remarks from Arkadi who spoke about the importance of the World Chess Championship and the role of the sponsors and everyone else involved in making the World Chess Championship. He was looking forward to excellent play from the 2 best players in the world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana.

Grandmaster Daniel Lewis of the UK coordinated the press conference and handling of questions from the media. He gave the context of the World Chess Championship talking about the two players and how Fabiano Caruana was probably Magnus Carlsen’s strongest challenger to date. Magnus Carlsen won his title in 2013 and has defended his title in 2014 and 2016. Fabiano Caruana emerged as the challenger for the World Chess Crown in March 2018.

Andre Gudiev who is the CEO of Phoshagro gave a few words talking about the sponsorship of chess by his company and their involvement with chess going back 8 years. He spoke about how far Phoshagro’s involvement with chess went stretching as far back as Sochi 2014, then New York and now London in the United Kingdom.   He also about the great developments in the coverage of chess in the media and how everyone could follow the games from their devices. He looked forward to continued collaboration between his company and the world of chess.

World Chess Ilya Merezon spoke about how this World Chess Championship in London was the most keenly awaited chess event that he could remember. World Chess would continue working with the journalists.

Now for snippets of the transcript

Journalist –  This is Mike from chess. com. My question is for Fabiano. Do you feel like you’re  playing for America? And not just yourself considering it’s been more than 40 years since the US has had a world champion.

Fabiano Caruana – I mean, I mainly try to approach tournaments as an individual. Of course, if I have a success, I also would like to share it with the United States, but at the board chess players or on their own. But of course, the I’m proud to be representing the US. It is basically the highest honor in chess.

Journalist – My name is lead Wellings from aljazeera well-conceived. May I ask Fabiano first?  The most eagerly anticipated chess match, do you think this is your profiles and your age is making chess Cool?

Magnus Carlsen – Personally, I found just the coolest thing in the world since I was 8 years old. So I think it’s always been that way.

Fabiano Caruana –  Yeah. I think that chess is definitely becoming cooler, and there are a lot of people in the celebrity world, movies and music who have an interest in chess. So I think it’s definitely gaining more exposure. And I mean, I also think that is a great thing and definitely can be very beautiful and also be cool and under accessible to the larger audience.

Journalist – Do you feel different before this match, then you do you feel differently before your other world championship compared to other matches

Magnus Carlsen – I am.  You always feel a bit differently. Bit older. So I feel older. And it’s called a place where I feel colder apart from. Apart from that. It’s it’s always. A lot of the same. It’s much anticipation and excitement to get this thing  started. And I know that I’m facing a formidable opponent. But I’ll do my very best to win again.

Journalist – MacAulay Peterson from chessbase – It’s rare these days to read something in the mainstream media as a chess news junkie that I don’t already know. But I did it the other day with the guardian article on Fabiana Caruana, which is a good article. But it said that you were an aspiring filmmaker who was studying screenwriting, and I was curious about that.

Fabiano Caruana – I actually don’t know how they came to be news to me in a lot of my friends started asking me about it.  I think I answered the question which so that I was interested in in cinema and film making, but I have no interest in being a screenwriter  or creating anything. I mainly like to watch and read what but that’s about it’s about it.

Journalist –  First, how important is psychological warfare for you. And. Word on politics. Maybe what you think about it. And the other 1 is for Fabiano. You’re playing against the so-called Mozart of chess. Would you like to be in comparison?

Magnus Carlsen –  I think. Well, most of all it matters. What you want what you do on the board. But there is an element of psychology and elements of bluff in chess, and it’s not as prevalent as in is an other games or or is forced but. I think people are aware of it. But it’s it’s not going to be the main story.  I think this time, we’re just I think both pretty much focused on on making the best moves, and take it from there.

Fabiano Caruana – On my musical tastes life, more outside classical music. So I probably pick someone either in the hip-hop or the rock genre. But yeah, I mean, I think it’s also comparison on Magnus was made a long time ago when he was a very talented up and coming player, and I think it was very fitting because of his great talent and chess. But I’d probably pick someone in another category

Journalist –  My question is for 2 years ago immediately after the match with career in New York, you say your weakest point at that time was controlling your emotions. My question is have you been working on that? And how?

Magnus Carlsen – Well, I mean your question is very upsetting to me. So no, I I think  I’m a bit calmer than I was back then but the question remains to see if I’m playing better, recently, I haven’t, but I’m confident that I’m capable of more and probably recently, I’ve been almost apathetic sometimes. So it’s taken a turn in the other direction. So I need to find some common some middle ground I suppose.

Journalist –  Question for Magnus. Would you do see yourself as a favorite or as the underdog? And how would you rather that others see you? And for Fabi what you consider to be the biggest weakness of your opponent.

Magnus Carlsen – Well, it’s been a while since I consider myself an underdog to be honest. If you’ve been the number 1 ranked player in world for 7 years, and you won 3 world championships in a row, and you consider yourself an underdog then there’s something seriously wrong with your psyche I think. Having said that obviously Fabiana tremendous player. His results this year speak for themselves. And I know that if I continued to play in the same vein that I have been recently than I will probably not win. So I need to step it up. But I’ve I have great confidence in in my my powers to do.
Fabiano Caruana – Well, I don’t think the Magnus has any clear weaknesses usually the mistakes. He makes are very individual. And there they don’t have a clear pattern to them. And I think this is also this also goes for most of the players at the very very top. But that being said he still makes mistakes, and we all do and the only challenges to to be ready to take them when they come.

Journalist –  No, no each newspaper. We have a question for Fabiano. No, you have changed nationality a couple of times. Do you feel American or Italian?

Fabiano Caruana – I never changed nationality. So I had dual nationality from birth and changed the federations when I was 13. And this was more. I mean, I was a kid I and I was living in Europe. And this was mainly to get back to my roots, my mother’s Italian, and when I changed back to the United States when I was in my twenties. This was a personal decision. And I do feel connected to both countries. I would like to represent both. But only 1 is possible, and I live in the United States and representing US now, and I feel very close and very much an American, but I do also cherish my Italian roots.

Journalist (BBC) –  Just wondering tomorrow, if you both have a ritual that you go through, what your preparation is before the game

Magnus Carlsen –  I think nothing too exciting. Unfortunately adjusts try to eat well

Fabiano Caruana –  Yeah. I mean, I think that chess players generally follow some sort of routine during a tournament and it can change from tournament to tournament. But you usually don’t wanna give a shock to your system. So you try to maintain some sort of flow or routine and try to maintain it. I think it prepares you more for when you have to play that you don’t have any unexpected surprises during the day.

Arkadi introduced the chief arbiter of the match and his team who included chess legends  Alexander Belyavskly from Ukraine Nigel Short who played in London 19 93 against Gary Kasparov for the world championship match in Kyoto syndrome. So it’s a combination of people you’ll get for the ivory do their best to create the best possible conditions for the players to show the best.

Journalist question for Fabiano –   The audience started to call you the new Bobby Fischer. Does that scare and frighten you or does it make you feel stronger and the question to both players do have female support for this much.

Fabiano Caruana – Well, I mean, I think the comparison is still early. I think that if I become world champion and the comparison will be more apt. But in terms of like, just I’ll and and the course of our lives. I hope I don’t think that the comparison is is quite true. But of course, it’s it’s very flattering to be compared to such a great player.

Journalist – Do you have your female support for this much?

Daniel Lewis – I mean, you could go anywhere with that question. I think my goodness. I you do you have female support for this match.

Magnus Carlsen – I don’t think so. women hate me.

Fabriano  Caruana  – The main female support I have is from my mother, which is I think the most helpful. And I also have to have a lot of friends, including female friends.


Exciting times ahead. The match begins in a few minutes…


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