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I try to land the first punch: Magnus Carlsen

Legends: BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, five-time chess World champion Viswanathan Anand and reigning World champion Magnus Carlsen at the draw ceremony on Thursday.

Legends: BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, five-time chess World champion Viswanathan Anand and reigning World champion Magnus Carlsen at the draw ceremony on Thursday.  

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Picks Anand as his biggest rival in a match

Magnus Carlsen has changed the entire dynamics of modern chess. World champion since 2013, he has truly played like one almost throughout his continuing reign as the best in the game.

In 190 days beginning December last year, Carlsen won a record eight successive elite tournaments and matched his career-high rating of 2882 on August 1.

In doing so, Carlsen also made the chess world revise the perception that he was grinding his rivals before emerging stronger.

Setting records straight

Here to play in the Tata Steel rapid and blitz tournament, Carlsen took time off to set some records straight.

“I would say, I try to land the first punch. My attitude is more like, if the game drags on, then at some point, you have to be patient. I think that perception of mine (outlasting the rival) is slightly mistaken since I also win lots of games faster. I don’t think you get to be a world-class player by being a one-dimensional player by only winning in one way.”

Asked whom he considered his biggest rival in a match, Carlsen named Viswanathan Anand.

“Obviously Anand. He was the World Champion before me and though there are other players better than Anand today, in the historical context, nobody can be compared to him. He is such an iconic figure in the history of chess. He still is an extremely strong player.”

No idolising

Carlsen is known not to name any favourite chess player. “I don’t have any favourite players. I try to learn from what they do instead of idolising the people,” he reaffirmed.

Reflecting on his approach, Carlsen said, “I try to do what I do best — to play chess. Everything else is kind of secondary. Whenever I play a game, usually I try to focus more on what I do wrong and try to improve. So I just try to focus, to get better.

“I have no particular ambitions outside of chess. I would say, I try to lead a normal life. I leave it to others to judge whether my contributions are making any impact or not.”

Biggest advice

For those seeking his single biggest advice, Carlsen said, “I would say, never give up hope. Confidence and belief in self are very important in chess. When I was little, I had setbacks at times. There was a year, when I was 13-14, not only did I not make progress but also regressed a bit in terms of rating and results. But I never gave up hope.

“I thought, the next game, the next tournament, is always going to turn around. And as a matter of fact, if you don’t give up hope, eventually you are going to get there. There is always another game, there is always another tournament, and there are always more chances.”

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 3:14:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/i-try-to-land-the-first-punch-magnus-carlsen/article30040475.ece

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