Magnus Carlsen, the World No.1 chess player and Viswanathan Anand’s challenger for the World championship match in November this year, charmed the young chess players, college girls and the media with his calm and composed manner in a function held at the MOP Vaishnav College for women here on Monday.
On a three-day visit to the city to inspect the venue of the championship, Hotel Hyatt Regency, and to get a feel of the city, Carlsen patiently played simultaneous chess with 20 children for nearly two-and-a-half hours, answered questions without getting perturbed.
The 22-year-old Norwegian seemed pleased with the arrangements made at the hotel for the championship match. “I am satisfied with the playing venue,” he said.
The reception for Carlsen was in keeping with his popularity in this part of the world. As he entered the College, the girls squealed “Carlsen” even as he waved his hand. In his short address, the Norwegian said, “I am happy to be here. I am looking forward to the match.”
On taking on Anand, Carlsen said, “he is a great player. Although he might be low on confidence in the last few tournaments, he’ll be in a different form on his home turf. He is one of world’s greatest players. He’ll be eager to show his best. I am looking forward to the match. It’s a great event.
“We have always been on good terms. I think I’ve learnt a lot from him and his games. You know how great a player he is by interacting with him.”
On his chances in the World championship match, Carlsen sounded extremely confident.
“I think as long as I am in top shape, I have a good chance to win. In every tournament, I back myself to win. This will be no different. Anand will up his game than in recent times.”
On home support Carlsen said “I think it’s not any more advantageous than in any other sport. It’s a psychological advantage.”
Carlsen refused to comment on the illness cause (according to the clause, a player can take a two-day break if he falls ill. This clause was included on the insistence of the Carlsen’s camp).
Carlsen attended a party hosted by the Norwegian Embassy on Monday evening. He is likely to meet J. Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday.
Carlsen’s camp might then venture out on the streets of Chennai to get a feel of the city. “Probably go to the beach,” said Espen Agdestein, Carlsen’s Manager.
Carlsen’s major tournament before the World championship will be the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, USA in September. He will leave the city and head to Norway on August 20.