Can wily Carlsen stare Viswanathan Anand down?

Archiman Bhaduri, TNN
Oct 25, 2013, 03.28 AM IST

KOLKATA: It’s about bringing the X-factor to the table and Magnus Carlsen, the Mozart of Chess, has a few up his sleeve. Viswanathan Anand, of course, knows how to counter most, but there’s something more that might get the Indian champion thinking during the World Chess Championship starting in Chennai on November 9.

There are strong speculations in the chess world that Carlsen uses hypnotic powers and it was refueled during the third-round match at the Sinquefield Chess Cup in Saint Louis on September 12 this year, when American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura surprised everyone by wearing sunglasses for his game against Carlsen.

Many felt Nakamura tried the sunglasses to avoid eye contact with Carlsen, even though the US GM looked to play it down. “I just felt like doing something different…Why not? Life is short, might as well have some fun every once in a while, considering how overly serious chess seems to be at times,” he tweeted.

But that didn’t stop the chess websites to harp on the hypnosis theory, that Carlsen allegedly uses to force his opponents into making blunders. Many experts believe chess hypnosis exists and is used by focusing really hard on a particular square during the game to unsettle the opponent.

Back in 2011, 80-year-old legend Victor Korchnoi said in an interview that he firmly believed Carlsen has achieved his success due to “hypnotic abilities”.

“I don’t see that Carlsen has the chess ability and I can’t understand at all how he achieves such incredible success. I can guess why, but it’s got no direct relation to chess,” Korchnoi had said.

“In the chess world there are a few people with absolutely incredible hypnotic abilities. Not so long ago I wrote in one of my books that there were three chess players in history who could (or can) read thoughts of their opponents: (Mikhail) Tal, (Henrique) Mecking and Carlsen. That’s what, I think, explains the Norwegian phenomenon. He reads thoughts,” Korchnoi added.

Russian legend Gary Kasparov strongly objected to Korchnoi’s views while Russian maverick GM Alexander Morozovich said in a lighter vein: “Well, I regularly practice chess hypnotism. But without any result.”

But there have been instances when chess players have openly tried to negate the hypnotic abilities of his opponent. In the 1959 Candidates Tournament, Benko in order to counter the “hypnotic stare” of the legendary Tal, pulled out from his pocket reflective sunglasses.


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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