CHENNAI: Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the 23-year-old world No. 1, will play his first World chess championship match against Viswanathan Anand – who has contested four classical World championship matches – in November. Carlsen is here on a three-day visit to get the feel of the city ahead of their titanic match.
TOI caught up with him on the sidelines of an event at the MOP Vaishnav College, when he spoke about the forthcoming match, his respect for his rival Anand, his impressions about the game and much more.
Considering a blip in Anand’s performance of late, do you think he is the real world champion?
He is a great player and the world champion. Yes, it has given me confidence having been successful in our last meetings. But there will be a different Anand here (for the World Championship match).
You are 23, Anand is 43. How significant is the age difference in this battle for the World title?
I hope to have more energy and will try to keep my concentration. But Anand has great experience in matches like these. He is one of the best players of all time. He will be quite eager to show his best form in Chennai.
In hindsight, how do you look at your decision of pulling out from an earlier World Championship cycle?
I don’t know (how to look at it now). What I do know is that I was not motivated to play then for various reasons. This time I was quite motivated to play the qualification and also motivated for the match.
What are your feelings about the match against Anand: a job to be done, enjoyment, excitement…?
To play well in a match is my main motivation. I’m looking forward to the match. And it’s going to be a great match.
Kramnik recently said Anand fears you…
Kramnikhas a serious reputation of being a loose cannon. So I won’t read too much into his assertion of Anand.
What do you think of Fide’s zero-tolerance policy and a player losing the game immediately if he arrives late for the game?
In general, it’s perhaps more appropriate to impose fines rather than making a player forfeit the game.
How do you find the balance between attack and defence?
In general I try to win… and by all means. And sometimes it’s too much, sometimes I overstep. But majority of the times, it pays off. Attaining balance, I guess, is something that you have within.
When Anand broke the Elo 2700 barrier, he was among the world’s four best players. Now, there are almost 50 players with Elo 2700 rating. What’s your take on the rating inflation?
I don’t know. This theory itself is a bit inflated. Both Anand and I deserve our rating.
How confident are you about beating Anand here in November?
As long as I’m good shape, I can pull it off. I don’t think it makes any sense to approach a World championship match without supreme confidence.
The World Champion in chess enjoys the privilege of getting a seeding in the championship match of the next cycle. What do you think of it?
In chess, the privileges to the world champion are slightly unfair. But I can do nothing about it.
What if you win against Anand? Would you insist on continuing with the privileges?
There have been hypocrites in chess before. But then, it’s a hypothetical question. I have to concentrate on the match on hand.
Was the ToiletGate episode during the World championship tie between Kramnik and Topalov in 2006 good for chess?
Of course it was not good for the game. It just got out of hand. And I genuinely hope there will be no such controversies this time. Anand always behaves correctly. Everything would be decided on the chess board and that’s how it should be.