Carlsen 'impresses the heck out of everyone'

9/6/2012 – Business Insider is a US business/entertainment news website, launched in February 2009 and based in New York City. Already they have published hundreds of chess related stories. Earlier this week there was one on Magnus Carlsen's visit to a chess camp in New York City. The story includes a video and a print interview with the world's number one. Excerpts.

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21-year-old Magnus Carlsen is handsome and charming, but he has little interest in working the crowd. What interests him is chess. The Norwegian grandmaster came to New York for a week in August to run a chess camp with Chess NYC and to hold this event at the Marshall Chess Club. The event was co-sponsored by 1000 Passions, a startup that lets people sign up for exclusive experiences.

Carlsen spends the next hour replaying one of his games from memory. He asks us at certain points to figure out what move comes next, and then he sips wine and stares at the board, while the rest of us rack our brains or sit there hopelessly. Not only does he remember this game – and supposedly 10,000 other games – but he shows us dozens of alternate outcomes before returning to what really happened.

His supreme confidence is impressive too. When asked if he was shocked by a bold move by his opponent, Carlsen grinned and the crowd laughed. "Well, I'd seen it when I made my move, but I should have been more careful, I guess." When someone suggested a move that might lead to a draw, Carlsen chided him: "But we're trying to win, not survive." Toward the end of the game, when his king was chased into the middle of the board, one row away from his opponent's queen and rook, Carlsen got a laugh by stating the incredible truth: "And now my king is completely safe."

Later in the night Carlsen simultaneously played ten people from the room chosen at random. That he beat everyone was hardly surprising, given that he has previously beaten ten people while playing blindfolded and talked about taking on twenty.

Watch this exclusive Business Inside video and interview with Carlsen:

Carlsen also answered questions from the crowd. His answers are excerpted below:

What did he think of play in the last world championship? "I thought the preparation was top class, especially from Gelfand. He was well prepared in all the openings he played and probably quite a few of the openings that weren’t actually on the board. Anand was also trying very hard but the problem was he wasn’t getting much of an advantage with the white pieces..."

What does he think about rules that discourage draws? "Well, the three-one-oh system is controversial. I think it’s a viable system, but there are advantages and disadvantages. I think it only affects the final score in extreme cases. As for the Sofia rules, whatever you want to call it, I don’t think those rules are controversial at all, I just think at top level tournaments you should play out the games. I think at amateur tournaments, open tournaments, people should be allowed to do whatever they want. At top level tournaments, there’s simply no excuse for not playing out the games."

Does he have a favorite player in history? "There wasn’t any particular player I modeled my game after. I tried to learn from everyone and create my own style. I studied past players. Truth be told I never had a favorite player. It’s just not my nature to go around idolizing people. I just go try to learn. If you want to know the strongest player now, apart from me anyway, I think it’s Anand, when he’s at his best. He reads positions very quickly, he calculates well and in general has a great understanding of the game."

What did he learn working with Gary Kasparov? "Complex positions. That was the most important thing. Because before I started working with him frequently I would shy away from those positions and I didn’t understand what was going on. But he could grasp those positions quickly and I tried to learn from that. I feel that I learned a lot from him in that respect."

Does he attack less than he used to? "I guess the games you’ve looked at were from 2004, 2005, when my opponents were much weaker than they are today. I got more of a chance to win, but now people don’t really allow you to play that same way. I think my style changed a bit in 2007, 2008 when I got to the top level and I started to lose a lot of games because I was too optimistic with my chances and my opponents were defending well and counterattacking and picking me apart."

What advice would he give to a beginner? "Just have fun, play games, a lot if you want, read chess books. That’s the way I went about it in those years"

What does he think about computer chess? "I’ve never been much of a computer guy at least in terms of playing with computers. Actually until I was about 11 I didn’t use a computer for preparing for games at all. Now, obviously, the computer is an important tool for me preparing for my games. I analyze when I’m on the computer, either my games or my opponents. But mostly my own."

Does he have talents outside of chess? "I don’t know. Maybe if I didn’t have the talent in chess I’d find the talent in something else. The only thing I know is that I have talent in chess, and I’m satisfied with that."

How long will he keep playing? "For me, it’s about playing as long as I’m motivated, as long as it’s fun, as long as it’s interesting. Whether that’s ‘til I’m 30, ‘til I’m 40, or 50 I don’t know."

When will he compete for the World Championship title? "My focus is on playing well in the tournaments and keeping the number one ranking. For me right now I think being the world number one is a bigger deal than being the world champion because I think it shows better who plays the best chess. That sounds self-serving but I think it’s also right."

Will he play in the chess Olympiads? "Well, I played in 2004, I played in 2006, I played in 2008 and I played in 2010 and I’m playing in 2014, so I thought it’d be nice to take a break this year.

Read the full article and interview with Magnus Carlsen in Business Insider here

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