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Tarjei J. Svensen @TarjeiJS
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Wow, this is really gold. 1 hour exclusive podcast with @MagnusCarlsen being interviewed by two of his closest friends. Some fun anecdotes from his childhood. Too bad most of you guys don’t understand Norwegian.
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»
«In the last tournament in Dubai, I was in the zone. I felt quite invincible, but I.didn’t really think I would beat the 2600’s. But I didn’t see how they would beat me. It was a great time with few things to worry about and youthful courage!»
«The next year I didn’t have the feeling that I had something to win, but I was more disappointed that I didn’t perform as a super grandmaster. It was perhaps an unrealistic expectation, because it’s harder to be stable when you are young.»
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 talking about the rising chess interest in Norway. Once he was out and met some random chess fan he had never seen before. He was asked about the games that day from the Poikovsky tournament, in which Carlsen himself had not yet seen. But the fan had!
Carlsen: «Back in the old days chess enthusiasts in Norway used to know eachother, and if you didn’t know them, they didn’t really follow chess. But it’s very nice to see that is not the case any more and the level of knowledge now is impressive.»
Carlsen on @aryan_tari: «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 invitatations 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!» <laugh>
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!» <laugh>
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.»
Carlsen asked about joining events during tournaments, such as the cooking competition during #NorwayChess: «Most of the time it’s just nice, but it depends on my state of mind, how the tournament is going. If it goes well, it’s more ‘go with the flow’»
Carlsen on the cooking competition in Norway Chess: «Wesley proved to be a surprisingly good partner in the cooking competition, so it was great after all, even though my attitude from the start was like ....<makes sigh sound>. But it was a super experience.»
Carlsen says it’s important for him not to be too relaxed during tournaments, because it can make you lack the necessary «punch» needed to win every game. «You can’t think too much about results either, have to try to have fun while at the same time being sharpened.»
Carlsen asked about his physical fitness, says he has to work out «at least a few times during tournaments, or else I feel my body will start to fade completely»
Carlsen very fond of football, basketball etc. «You see more and more during tournaments that players take physical fitness seriously. Now you see Caruana taking 20 hang-ups in Tufteparken in Stavanger, and Nakamura running around Stokkavannet, and MVL 10 km on the trademill.»
Carlsen: «Players are much more concious about this <physical fitness> than a few years ago, and this is something I take some credit for. It’s a good thing that players are more professional, which leads to higher quality.»
Now on #CarlsenKarjakin: «1st & 2nd game nothing happened, 3rd game I had winning chances, 4th even more winning chances. It was a combination of good defence and that I lost concentration in the most important moment, which is a scandal after so much preparation.»
Carlsen says he wasn’t very worried after first 4 games <not converting vs Karjakin>, because he thought he was outplaying him. Then some draws followed. Says he tends to lose energy after «boring draws». «It tires you out mentally, because you don’t get to play any chess»
Carlsen says Karjakin succeeded in «killing some of the life in the match» with the draws. In the 8th game, in which he lost, he said he absolutely had no fear of losing. «Then I went too far. Suddenly I realized I could actually lose it. I froze.»
«I wasn’t mentally prepared to lose that game, because I had not been in trouble in any game. Either we had an early draw, or I had put pressure on him....» «....after the 8th game I was pretty down»
Carlsen said at that point he started to think what he would do if he lost the title: «How can I show up at a tournament now without the WC title?»
And I still have 21 minutes left of this interview ...
Carlsen talks about how privileged he is having the title, «it’s a dream for so many people around the world», but says he thinks it was easier before when he didn’t play the WC’s: «Back then I didn’t think much about the WC title, I knew someone had it, but I knew I was better»
Then Carlsen talks about how he felt when he realized he could actually lose it, and the worst was «the feeling that Karjakin would get it, I almost didn’t know how I would be able to live with that.»
Carlsen eventually tied the match with Karjakin by winning game 10: «Who knows? If I hadn’t won the 10th game, I would probably not have managed it.»
«After the 10th game, I wasn’t that worried anymore. Because I was back in the match, and I could play solidly with black. I held a draw quite easily in game 11. So I just told my guys that, this 12th game....<laugh>. There won’t be much of a game.»
Carlsen: «I told Peter to not waste his time preparing, because it will be a short draw and we will look forward to tiebreaks.»
«I very much believed that the tiebreaks would be fun, and I had passed the ‘bump’ and started looking forward.»
«Suddenly Karjakin had something to lose. I believe he went into the match not really believing he would win it, but that he at least would do his best»
Carlsen says he thinks it must’ve been difficult for Karjakin to adapt after losing the lead, while he himself had been «resurrected from the dead». «It was a much better situation for me from a psychological standpoint».
Now on to #CarlsenCaruana: «He is a calm and rather uncomplicated type, a nice guy. His playing style is very concrete. He calculates very, very well and deep. He is well prepared. And he loves the center!»
Carlsen: «Caruana often sacrifices pawns, gives his opponents passed pawns, accepts attacks towards his king in order to achieve control of the centre. So in terms of chess understanding, this is what I would assess that we are the most different on, he values the centre a lot.»
Carlsen talks about his good score vs Caruana, no losses last 3 years: «My last experiences have been good. It’s been a while since I was in danger of losing against him. But it will always be a bit difficult in a WC match. He has done well recently, not against me»
Carlsen: «I have not done well recently, but I have done well against him. Who knows? But I will be more sharpened than I have been recently.»
Asked whether there are other opponents he would fear more: «No, Caruana is the worst opponent. He is the 2nd best and the most difficult to play against. He is not the most difficult to beat as he takes risks, but along with Aronian, he is one I feel has outplayed me most»
Karjakin recently suggested Caruana is not that strong of a defender compared to him, but Carlsen says: «He will defend much better in the WC match than he has done against me in the past.» Thinks he will defend when necessary.
Carlsen talks about defence, saying Karjakin is a player able to defend very well when there is no counterplay, while Kramnik and Aronian are not. "It will be exciting to see how Caruana does it, I will definitely force him to defend himself!"
Carlsen: "I hope I will be able to defend well if necessary, but I don't have that much experience defending last few years. Either I am pressured, or the games end in a draw."
Carlsen: "I have won several games against him earlier with active defence where he put pressure on me and I managed to get counterplay and win. So you can't rule out that I will try that quite a bit."
Carlsen on playing in London: "There are advantages and disadvantages. It's easier for the fans. It's great that it's just a few hours from Oslo and it won't hard to persuade the family to go a quick trip to London!"
Carlsen: "But it's in November, it will be dark. And in a city, it will be noisy. It won't be easy to find the calmness, so that will be more of a challenge for the players."
Carlsen says he was very happy with the job his team did for him preparing in New York vs Karjakin. Thinks it won't be too much different now, but focus will be improving middle game play from recent year.
Carlsen: "Openings will be important, but I don't think I will do too much differently [compared to 2016] because it worked quite well."
Carlsen then confirms he will follow up on a WC tradition of his: To watch the movie "Get Ready To Be Boyzvoiced" at least once during #CarlsenCaruana.
We're at the end of the podcast. Carlsen asked who his favourite player is (he was told not to say himself), which is Alexander Alekhine.
Carlsen on Alekhine: "He played a type of modern chess that was fantastic, a combination of positional understanding that was ahead of his time and a dynamical understanding where he was particularly good at achieving positional advantages by playing aggressively."
Carlsen using a football analogy to describe Alekhine, and how he was able to shift play from one flank to the other and see all of the board: "I encourage all chess fans to check out the games between Alekhine and Capablanca from the 1927 match."
Carlsen asked how he will feel if he loses the title: "I will be very sad. <laugh> I can't think too much about it. I have to try to be at my best, and to be best prepared in all possible ways." #CarlsenCaruana
"Frankly, I don't want to focus on it. It's hard to avoid thinking about it, but it will be strange to asnwer it. I don't know, and I will first and foremost do my best to be at my bet during the match. Hopefully it won't he a topic. #CarlsenCaruana
Ok, that was all. I think I got most of it, but I am sure @GMjtis can fill in if I missed anything. Great job by @AskildB and Odin with the questions! Maybe there will be a written version some time soon.
Here's a short NRK story on the podcast, where the focus is on Carlsen jokingly saying there have been times when he wanted to punch Aronian during games.…
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