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Shelby Lyman on Chess: ‘The Paranoids Are After Me’
Sunday, October 11, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, October 11, 2015)

Magnus Carlsen, the 24-year-old world champion of chess, may be getting the willies.

I am reminded of a Bobby Fischer appearance on the Dick Cavett talk show in 1972 during which he looked furtively over his shoulder with mock concern.

“The paranoids are after me,” he declared, with obvious glee.

Today, Carlsen has cause to be looking over both shoulders. But it is a group of eight or 10 young players, as well an older ex-champion, who are peering at him menacingly.

They do not seem to be impressed by the cocky world champion’s suggestion that he may be on top 20 years from now.

Fabiano Caruana, who currently ranks fifth in the world, has cited supposed weaknesses in Carlsen’s opening knowledge and defensive ability.

And recently, the former world champion Veselin Topalov opined in New In Chess magazine, “He can lose games against many people. … Almost anyone can beat him.”

The magazine followed up the Topolov interview with an 85-page booklet, After Magnus, profiling 10 young players who potentially could dethrone him.

Carlsen has a near genius status, but the question will be settled obviously where it counts — on the chessboard.


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