Carlsen on ambitions in Almaty and the biggest lesson learned from chess

Always on the hunt for more titles.

Text: Milan Dinic

Photos: Sergey Aleksenok and Lennart Ootes

The first press conference of the world rapid and blitz chess championships was held on December 26 at the Almaty telecentre, the official communications center of the Kazakh government.

The event was attended by national and international media.

Present at the conference were Magnus Carlsen, five times world chess champion, Arkady Dvorkovich, President of FIDE, Dauren Abaev, Minister of Culture and Sports of Kazakhstan, Galim Khusainov, President of the Kazakhstan Chess Federation, Darmen Sadvakasov, Vice President of the Kazakhstan Chess Federation, as well as Sergey Lukyanov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Freedom Finance, the main sponsor of the event.

Almost all the questions were directed at Magnus Carlsen, a five-time world chess champion.

Carlsen first congratulated the organizers at the opening ceremony:: “It was a good ceremony with a nice and clear message: welcome to Kazakhstan. Not only me, but many people felt welcome.”

Here are the key quotes from Carlsen’s answers.

magnus carlsen

On his ambitions in Almaty

Magnus Carlsen was asked if the fact that this is the last time he appears in the World Rapid & Blitz as classical chess world champion has any impact on the way he approaches this event.

These championships have been very important to me for a decade and they will continue to be an event to enjoy and cover. I am always on the hunt for more titles and wins, and that will not change in the future, regardless of the classic championship.

On playing Hans Niemann

Carlsen was also asked if i would play against hans niemann if the two were paired.

I don’t have an answer. I understand that this is a question that people want an answer to, but I hope you understand that I can’t answer it.

On the role of chess in improving mental health

Speaking about the recent rise in popularity of chess, Carlsen noted the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had in forcing people to stay home, but also noted the growing awareness of mental health and the role chess can play. to improve it:

In many societies, there is an emphasis on having not only a healthy body but also a healthy mind, and chess is quite suitable.

Carlsen was asked if chess players work with mental trainers.

I never felt the need. I feel that I generally understand the reasons for my successes and failures. I have not felt the need to speak to professionals. I have people in my life that I can talk to about these matters.

The people who work with me work hard so that I can work less and focus more on the games. I think about chess all the time: I visualize the games and think about ways I can improve. There’s not a lot of deliberate practice or anything that people perceive as work. I never wanted a classic nine to five job, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to treat chess like this… I think my path shows that there are multiple ways to achieve a goal.

On the biggest lesson chess taught him

The world champion was also asked what is the biggest lesson chess has taught him.

Chess has taught me that spending a lot of time on chess will make you good at it. Not everything is necessarily transferable. The most useful thing I learned from chess is to make good decisions on incomplete data in a limited time.

magnus carlsen

About Kazakh chess players

There have been many good Kazakh players in the past, Carlsen noted.

One of the first good wins was against Evgeniy Vladimirov, who was a very strong player in the 1980s and 1990s and notable as Kasparov’s coach… Zhansaya Abdumalik is one of the best players in the world. There are some strong young players. For now, there has been more success for Uzbekistan, its neighbors, but I’m sure that’s motivating for the youth here.

About shogi and other board games

I am fascinated by other board games, especially the Japanese game shogi. As far as going, I don’t know much about the game. I understand that it is incredibly complex. It is more of a pure game than chess because the rules are simple and clear and yet the game itself is very complicated. I am used to playing chess, so I feel that it is more interesting because the pieces have different qualities. Chess has been around for a long time, and it is still far from being discovered by us humans. It is a wonderful game.

How to become world champion?

The final question of the press conference was asked by a four-year-old boy. As usual, children this age ask questions that sound very simple but are very difficult.

The question: How to become a world champion?

Carlson’s response: Very easy, you just have to defeat the previous world champion!

Arkady Dvorkovich: A new era for chess

Other questions at the press conference were directed at FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich.

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Dvorkovich praised Kazakhstan as the host, noting that FIDE is “always happy to come back” to this country. “The Kazakhstan chess federation is well positioned to host FIDE events. We have the continued support of the government and the Kazakhstan Chess Federation,” Dvorkovich said.

Summing up the previous year, Dvorkovich noted that it was “one of the toughest and most successful years for FIDE”.

Interest in chess is growing online and on the board. We contribute to that by doing our best. It was unfortunate that we had to change the Olympics, but we were able to do it and we had a record number of participants in Chennai. We also carry out more than ten official FIDE championships postponed due to the pandemic. Chess is back to normal both online and on the board.

Dvorkovich also announced more projects focused on schools and women’s chess.

We are starting a new era of chess by bringing chess to schools around the world. Kazakhstan is one example where our friends are implementing a five-year roadmap to include chess in education.

In addition, 2022 was a year for women’s chess: we organized more tournaments for women and included them in more roles, including management, coaching and arbitrators. It’s a good start to the decade for women in chess.

Arkady Dvorkovich