World Chess Championship: Sexy Chess Returns. But for Magnus Carlsen, it was business as usual

He will take on challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi across 14 games for a sizable prize pool. 2.24 million dollars. Friday’s opening match was drawn.
Not since the 1970s, when the American legend Bobby Fischer exploded at the scene, the game caught the world’s attention like this. Is chess sexy anymore? It doesn’t matter to Carlsen, as he prepares to defend his title.

“The question is, is being smart the new sexy? And in that case, chess certainly is. Personally, I don’t really care,” he told CNN’s Connect the World in An exclusive TV interview before his first game.

A slight laugh at saying this came as a surprise, considering his dull demeanor throughout the day. It didn’t take long for him to turn off his smile and focus on what he does best – winning.

“The world championship is not a matter of enjoying too much. In events like this, it’s more of a business.”

Capture the moment

Carlsen tries to be nonchalant about anything during press conferences and interviews. But he has strong opinions on how the game should be changed to ensure it catches the attention of current interested players.

“I’ve had some advocates for faster matches at world championships for a long time,” he said. “I think that for people who are not into chess at all, who know nothing about the game, you will naturally be attracted to faster games.”

World championship matches can last for hours and often end in a draw because mistakes are so rare. Carlsen’s last two championship matches ended in a draw and the players had to part with tiebreaks.

It ranks the Norwegian grandmaster that he doesn’t win outright and he aims to show what he’s really capable of against Nepomniachtchi.

Ian Nepomniachtchi is the challenger for the crown of Magnus Carlsen in Dubai.

“I didn’t show nearly what I could do in the key moments,” he said. “I feel like there’s a lot about myself and I’m really, really anxious to go and show more than I can. [so far]. “

Carlsen’s love of fast chess is not surprising, as he is the current world champion in both “Rapid” and “Blitz” – games typically last 15 minutes or less.

His tiebreak wins in previous championships have been in quick form and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing off his quick thinking.

Computers are now powerful enough to compute billions of possible combinations of moves in seconds, deciding on the best possible choice. It makes prep more precise and less fun, and Carlsen thinks faster games will help solve that.

“If people are drawn to the game, if they like it, whatever motivation they have for it – whether it’s because other people love it or it comes from within – I think it’s great. “

The greatest ever?

Carlsen could rightly be considered the greatest chess player ever. He has been world champion for eight years and holds the longest unbeaten streak in history.

He is only many weeks behind the Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov as the highest rated player.

“I can say that Garry has dominated for 20 years. And even if I win this championship, I still have a way to go to reach his peak,” Carlsen said. “And if I don’t, it won’t keep me awake at all.”

Russian chess master Garry Kasparov in Lisbon on November 3.

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

While Carlsen is confident he can beat Nepomniachtchi – as are most experts – he’s not so sure the new world can’t. 2, Firouzja.

“His accomplishments are simply extraordinary, and it’s clear that he has long been named crown prince. He’s someone to watch for both me and the others. And hopefully, that. will motivate us all,” he said.

Currently, Carlsen is dominating the chess world and will continue to do so for years to come if he can win Dubai in the next two weeks.


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