Carlsen: I am constantly in touch with Kasparov

11/19/2009 – "Until recently I was a schoolboy," says a candid Magnus Carlsen, "I am not very accustomed to rigid, hard and painstaking work. Only by working with Garry Kasparov have I become aware of just how important it is." The 18-year-old winner of the 2009 World Blitz Championship, and the inofficial world number one player, gives credit where it's due in this Vremya (Time) interview.

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World Blitz Championship

This event was held on November 16, 17 and 18 in the showroom of the Red Square mall GUM. Time controls were three minutes for the whole game + two seconds increment per move. The event was a 22-player double round-robin, i.e. it had a total of 42 rounds, which were played on three consecutive days. The participants include the players from the Tal Memorial, plus twelve invitees. The average rating was 2718 – quite remarkable for an evernt with so many players.

In the press

Magnus Carlsen: I am constantly in touch with Kasparov

In Moscow yesterday the traditional Mikhail Tal Memorial ended, which brought together almost all the strongest Grandmasters in the world. First, ten players played in the tournament (first place was taken by Vladimir Kramnik) and then 22 players contested the world championship for blitz, which ended in the victory of 18-year-old Magnus Carlsen. Ever since the Norwegian appeared on the chess horizon, when at the age of 13 he was awarded the title of International Grandmaster, he has been constantly in the eye of the game’s enthusiasts and professionals. The Scandinavian’s rise has been meteoric. It took him just five years to enter the world elite. After a recent appearance in the Chinese city of Nanjing, the young Viking has passed the elite 2800 rating mark and is second only to Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Upon completion of the Tal Memorial, the second prize winner of the main tournament and the new world blitz champion Magnus Carlsen responded to questions from "Time News" correspondent Oleg Stetsko.

How, in your opinion, does the Mikhail Tal Memorial compare with other international super-tournaments in which you have taken part?

Very, very highly. I was glad to play in Russia's capital at this Memorial to a really great chess player. I liked it not only because the organizers managed to gather a very strong line-up and invited nearly all the best players in the world. Similar things happen at some other traditional tournaments, such as the Dutch Wijk aan Zee or Linares in Spain. Most of all, I received lots of positive emotions because of the possibility of contact with the rich chess and cultural traditions, not only of Moscow, but also throughout Russia as a whole. So when I got the opportunity to play in your capital, I was doubly pleased.

Are you familiar with the legacy and play of Mikhail Tal, who, by the way, was the youngest world champion in chess history?

Of course. I know, and have analyzed the games of not only Tal. I have studied the play and the manner of all world champions, as well as many other strong players of different eras.

What explains your somewhat lethargic play in the first part of the Memorial? After such a strong performance at the super-tournament in Nanjing, which you won by a big margin over your closest competitors, Moscow was expecting something similar from Carlsen.

I do not want to make excuses to the audience and the demanding Moscow chess fans for my slow start. For good play, several important components need to come together at once. The first few days I played, I was sick. I was obviously unwell, and in this state, of course, lacked energy. Feeling so unwell, I could not play to win.

It is well known that this year you have been collaborating with Garry Kasparov. How did this come about and how often do you meet with our grandmaster?

Kasparov and I had two short training sessions in the spring, then trained for two weeks in Croatia. This was in August. Then we worked for a few days in September. But in general, we have regular contact by email or Skype.

Almost all elite grandmasters attach great importance to opening preparation. It would be interesting to know your opinion on this matter. After all, in one interview you said that you never liked to study opening theory and do so only as much as you need to get a normal position.

In principle, I do and always did understand that it is important to play the opening well. However, only by working with Garry Kasparov have I become aware of just how important it is. I'm still fairly young, until recently I was a schoolboy, and therefore I am not very accustomed to rigid, hard and painstaking work. And opening preparation is very heavy, exhausting work.

What are your plans for the coming competitions?

I'll play in London, where I am invited to a good round robin tournament of seven rounds. Then, in January of next year I will play in Wijk aan Zee.

Assess your chances in the fight for the title of world champion. Is the current cycle not your your time?

For me, short-term plans are more important. I do not look that far ahead. What will be, will be. It is all the more difficult to plan for something in particular, in the unstable conditions of the current leadership of the international federation. When I am the best chess player the world, then I will make my plans. In the meantime, Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik are both still very strong.


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