Carlsen: "If it's tiring for me, it will be even tougher for Caruana"

by ChessBase
11/7/2018 – Norwegian Twitter translation trafficker Tarjei Svensen strikes again sampling another Carlsen interview, this time with VG. The tabloid newspaper spoke with the World Champ (in his native language) as he wrapped up preparations for the upcoming match with Fabiano Caruana. | Photos: Alina l'Ami Players.Chessbase.com

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.

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Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 11/8/2018 08:26
These exchanges are very interesting and stimulate the excitement, if not impatience, for the coming Match.

Note: Today (November 8, 2018) Ding Liren has won against Wojtaszek in round 5 of the Shenzen Tournament
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/8/2018 06:08
@ Babysplitz:

- "(...) and just didn't believe he could win." (about Karjakin) Quite probable indeed!

- For Ding Liren, we will have the answer if Carlsen wins against Caruana, and if Ding Liren wins the next qualifying cycle. Otherwise, we will perhaps never know what a Carlsen - Ding Liren match would be!

- "Among chess players, of course, it's fantastic." (about the Carlsen - Caruana match) Yes, there is something rather unique about this match. In my opinion, in particular because it is at the same time a match for the World Crown and for the World N° 1 place in the world rankings... (and more still because Carlsen is the World N° 1 since 7 years; if Caruana would become World N° 1, it would be for him quite a fantastic achievement)

- "I have enjoyed player Petrarlsen's comments. They are very insitefull." Thanks!!
Babysplitz Babysplitz 11/8/2018 07:27
@Petrarlsen

"You can get a high rating by beating a lot of players below 2740..." You kinda prove my point by mentioning 2 wins against Svidler, rated 2736 and a win against Navara, rated 2732!!

BUT I think we basically agree. BTW Svidler is probably by favorite chess commentator and a great player. Sorry to see him lose so many games recently with some terrible blunders.

I think Karjakin lost the WC match because the stage was just to big for him, he got nervous and just didn't believe he could win. I watched the entire match.

I think we are farther apart on Ding

I don't think the match will draw much attention in the states unless Caruana gets ahead in the match and has a chance to win. That is among the general public. Among chess players, of course, it's fantastic.

I have enjoyed player Petrarlsen's comments. They are very insitefull.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/8/2018 07:03
@ amarpan: "Carlsen does sound nervous if you study his words and statements carefully." Yes, I rather agree...
amarpan amarpan 11/8/2018 05:42
Carlsen does sound nervous if you study his words and statements carefully. I think a win by Caruana will be good for chess in the US. Last time, most people in US were unaware of the world championships when it was being played in New York. This time, most people in the US are not aware that a US national is competing.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/8/2018 05:00
@ Babysplitz:

- "You can get a high rating by beating a lot of players below 2740, for example, and drawing everyone close to 2800, which is what I think Ding does."

In 2017 and 2018, Ding Liren beat Aronian, Svidler (two times), Yu Yangyi, Mamedyarov (at the Candidates and with Black - Mamedyarov was World Number 2 at this moment) and Navara. So he also beats very strong players.

Furthermore, he doesn't draw so much games as that: his global winning percentage is 38 % (https://ratings.fide.com/chess_statistics.phtml?event=8603677), while Caruana's winning percentage is 39 % (https://ratings.fide.com/chess_statistics.phtml?event=2020009): there are more or less the same.

And, personally, in view of Carlsen's style and of the Carlsen - Karjakin match, a player who never loses against anyone seems to me to be a worse opponent for Carlsen than a brilliant player who wins some games and loses some (as Caruana or Mamedyarov, for example); in my opinion, a player must be very solid to have a serious chance against Carlsen in a match (at least, if Carlsen plays at a normal level for him, which isn't necessarily a given in the present period).

- "I expect Carlsen to have a difficult time in this match."

As for me, I don't know what to expect. I don't think there will be a very lopsided overall result in either way, but I wouldn't predict anything... I think that Caruana isn't the worst opponent for Carlsen, but he is very near in overall level and, as you said, is certainly "hungrier" than Carlsen. But Carlsen has a tiny Elo advantage, and (more importantly) he has more match experience. And (as you said, also), I don't think he will underestimate Caruana as he did for Karjakin, so he will probably be better prepared, in the chess dimension, but also psychologically (he knows this will not be easy for him). And, furthermore: 1) he is very difficult to beat in matchplay (he only lost two games in three World Championship matches) and 2) in a playoff, Carlsen has a huge advantage, as he is significantly better in Rapid and Blitz than in Classical time controls.

And, globally, Carlsen experienced much difficulties in his match against Karjakin; I don't see what Karjakin has that Ding Liren wouldn't have (apart, possibly, from a question of confidence when playing Carlsen, but, as I said before, I think that this would have to be reconsidered in view of Ding Liren's recent achievements, which can quite well give him much more confidence when playing, for example, Carlsen). Globally and very schematically, Ding Liren seems to me to be "a stronger version of Karjakin", more or less...
Babysplitz Babysplitz 11/8/2018 03:02
@Petrarlsen

I didn't mention Mamedyarov, but now you mention it I think Mamedyarov is a more dangerous player than Ding Liren. You mention Ding's rating being 2800, so he must real be strong. You can get a high rating by beating a lot of players below 2740, for exampe, and drawing everyone close to 2800, which is what I think Ding does.
I think Mamedyarov has a comfidence problem against Carlen, but is fearless against everyone else. He also played too much last year and got tired!!
I worry a little about Caruana playing too much also, but he rested the last 66 weeks or so.
I didn't mention Karjakin either, but in his match with Carlsen I think he too lost confidence. I also don't think Carlsen took Karjakin as a serious threat. I think Carlsen realizes this and he is taking Caruana more seriously.
Carlsen more or less admiting in this interview that Caruana is a more difficult opponent than Anand or Karjakin.

I like Carlsen as a person, chess player, and World Champion. BUT I believe Caruana is younger, hungrier, more motivated, and is a very dangerous opponent.

I remember Spassky after becoming World Champion in his run up to playing Fischer. Spassky lacked energy in that match and didn't take the match too seriously and lost.

I expect Carlsen to have a difficult time in this match.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/8/2018 01:37
@ Aighearach:

When you wrote: "Carlsen vs Ding Liren may be 0-0-4 in classical, but in rapid/blitz they're 17-2-13 so if Ding Liren was challenger he would be under immense pressure to win in the classical games, as his only reasonable route to victory. Playing draws wouldn't shake Carlsen at all. Carlsen vs Karjakin in blitz/rapid are 18-9-10, a huge huge difference compared to Ding Liren.", you nonetheless forgot to take into account one element: that not much ago, in 2016, Ding Liren was at one point World N° 1 in the world rankings in Blitz (cf.: https://en.chessbase.com/post/august-2016-ratings-monster-maxime-reaches-2819-fide/1), above Carlsen himself! So, yes, their face-to-face results are rather lopsided for the moment, but it isn't possible to say that a victory is an absolute given against a player who was at one point above you in the world rankings!
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/8/2018 01:15
@ Babysplitz:

- "Ding Liren doesn't lose but he doesn't win many games against the world's best. Nor does he even seem to get a advantage or press against the best players."

The same is rather true in my opinion about Karjakin. Nonetheless, Karjakin demonstrated that he can be quite a difficult match opponent for Carlsen - and Ding Liren is now 44 points above Karjakin's level at the time of his match against Carlsen, so, logically, he should normally be a more difficult opponent for Carlsen than Karjakin.

- "I think a lot about the upcoming match has to do with what kind of shape Caruana is in. I mean he is a streakie player."

I agree...

- "If Carlsen comes to the WC match with an attitude of no energy and not really motivated, then he will lose the championship."

True, but I think that this would also be true against Ding Liren, and even against Mamedyarov, because Mamedyarov isn't very far from Carlsen in Elo level, and if Carlsen had really no energy and was not really motivated, he couldn't keep his title either against Mamedyarov, in my opinion.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/8/2018 01:14
@ Aighearach:

- "(...) they're very close the same strength, and close to the same consistency too."

I agree, but I didn't say anything about this; I only compared Caruana and Ding Liren as opponents for Carlsen; I didn't compare Caruana and Carlsen. It is rather the opposit, in fact: my second post rather tends to show that they are very close in level.

- "(...) if Ding Liren was challenger he would be under immense pressure to win in the classical games, as his only reasonable route to victory."

I didn't check Caruana's results against Carlsen, but, in Rapid, he is 91 points below Carlsen, and, in Blitz, he is 172 points (!!) behind him, so he will also absolutely need to win in the Classical part of the match (and, by the way, Ding Liren's and Caruana's levels are globally quite comparable in Rapid and Blitz: Caruana is above Ding Liren in Rapid, but below him in Blitz). So, if there is some "immense pressure", this "immense pressure" is there also for Caruana. (As for me, I think that to say that this represents an "immense pressure" is an exaggeration; it more or less represents the same thing as the previous "draw odds to the Champion" system.)

- "Playing draws wouldn't shake Carlsen at all. Carlsen vs Karjakin in blitz/rapid are 18-9-10, a huge huge difference compared to Ding Liren."

"It seems silly though that a streak of "not losing" that also has a notable lack of winning would give somebody confidence against the World Champion."

About Karjakin, very obviously, Carlsen was quite confident about playing a Rapid/Blitz playoff against him, otherwise he wouldn't have played so openly for a draw with White in the 12th classical game of their World Championship (and he won the playoff without to much problems), so this wouldn't make such a difference with Ding Liren.

And I didn't say that Ding Liren would gain confidence by playing multiple consecutive draws against Carlsen; I much rather think that it is Carlsen himself that would be unsettled by many consecutive draws (this was exactly what I said, by the way).

This is what Carlsen himself said about this (https://en.chessbase.com/post/carlsen-insights-from-norwegian-podcast):

"Carlsen says he wasn’t very worried after first 4 games <not converting vs Karjakin>, because he thought he was outplaying him. Then some draws followed. Says he tends to lose energy after «boring draws». «It tires you out mentally, because you don’t get to play any chess»".

So, clearly, Carlsen is quite ill at ease with multiple consecutive draws in a World Championship match...

When you write, about Ding Liren, "a notable lack of winning", if he really did win so few games, he wouldn't be above 2800. And I said that Ding Liren's confidence could be boosted by both his unbeaten streak AND the fact that he is now a 2800+ player. And I think that the two elements combined can be a boost for him, because, as for the Elo gain, Ding Liren is now only 19 points from Carlsen (rather negligible in a match), and as for his unbeaten streak, because this shows that he is a very good defender, and it is common knowledge that, against Carlsen, if you aren't a good defender, you will lose quite a number of games.
Babysplitz Babysplitz 11/7/2018 11:42
Ding Liren doesn't lose but he doesn't win many games against the world's best. Nor does he even seem to get a advantage or press against the best players.
Caruana fights and always seems to find unreal resourses. Look at his game against Magnus at the last Sinquefield Cup. Magnus had a huge advantage but Caruana was able to somehow draw the game with black even.
I think a lot about the upcoming match has to do with what kind of shape Caruana is in. I mean he is a streakie player.
Look at his 7 wins in a row at the Sinquefield cup a few years ago.
If Carlsen comes to the WC match with an attitude of no energy and not really motivated, then he will lose the championship.
Aighearach Aighearach 11/7/2018 11:27
If you think Caruana is less consistent than Carlsen, and you notice that their ratings are only separated by a few points, that adds up to the implicit claim that on a good day Caruana is the much stronger player.

IMO that is nonsense, and they're very close the same strength, and close to the same consistency too.

Carlsen vs Ding Liren may be 0-0-4 in classical, but in rapid/blitz they're 17-2-13 so if Ding Liren was challenger he would be under immense pressure to win in the classical games, as his only reasonable route to victory. Playing draws wouldn't shake Carlsen at all. Carlsen vs Karjakin in blitz/rapid are 18-9-10, a huge huge difference compared to Ding Liren.

It seems silly though that a streak of "not losing" that also has a notable lack of winning would give somebody confidence against the World Champion. Confidence in regular tournaments, sure, of course. But going into a World Championship Match that is turning into "damning with faint praise."
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/7/2018 09:26
@ klklkl: "Both men seem cowed by Carlsen." I think that, about Ding Liren, it is difficult to know what the situation is now, because, recently, he has both passed the 2800 mark and succeeded in obtaining the longest unbeaten streak in history; objectively, this would made him a difficult opponent for anyone, and it is possible that this will give him a big confidence boost when playing Carlsen (rationally, it SHOULD give him an important confidence boost; but it is also true that all isn't always logical as for confidence...). Difficult to know for sure; the future will tell us what will happen...
klklkl klklkl 11/7/2018 08:39
@Petrarlsen Ding is much more like Wesley So, who also broke into the elite with a long unbeaten run. Both men seem cowed by Carlsen. Like you, I wonder about Magnus's assessment of Caruana's danger. Caruana belongs in the super elite, but inconsistent and prone to tilts. Magnus's biggest dangers always seemed to me to be Grischuk and Karjakin. Karjakin, because he's proven it already, Grischuk because he seems to shine against Carlsen, and both players are good enough at faster controls to make a playoff competitive. I doubt anyone would give Caruana a chance if the match is level after game 12.

Magnus's biggest danger in this match is Magnus. If he gets hung up over his number 1 spot, or forgets where Fabi was in February and buys into the hype, I can see him lunging rashly, just as he did in Fabi's famous Sinquefield cup, when quite unnecessarily he made that losing piece sacrifice with White. This could also happen if his teeth prove blunt again in winning positions, as against Fabi post-shush. But if he keeps his head, remembers who he is, the dominance he enjoys with White against this opponent and the solidity with black, it should be a fairly steady match for Carlsen and less testing than any since the 2013.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/7/2018 07:17
This been said, it doesn't mean that the Carlsen - Caruana match isn't a very special match: in my opinion, yes it isn't necessarily so because Caruana would certainly be the worst opponent for Carlsen as I am not totally convinced that such is really the case, but what is really outstanding about this match is that it is, on the one hand, the World Championship match between a legitimate Champion and a legitimate Challenger, and, on the other hand, a match between the World Number One and the World Number Two. And it must even be noted that, in a way, this match will be also a match for the number one place in the Elo standings: if there is a winner in the "classical games" part of the match, this winner will be the World Number One; if the match is tied (in the classical games part), Carlsen keeps his World Number One place (some sort of a "draw odds to the World Number One" system, in practice!). So this match is in a way a "two in one" match. And if Carlsen loses in the "classical games" part, he loses all; title and World number one place, the same being true for Caruana who would win all if he was to win in the "classical games" part of the match.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 11/7/2018 06:59
"On paper this is my absolute worst opponent." (Carlsen about Caruana)

I rather wonder if Carlsen couldn't be wrong on that: Ding Liren seems to be evolving into some sort of a super-Karjakin (= solidity on the one hand + 2800+ level on the other hand) and Karjakin was already a very difficult opponent for Carlsen as Carlsen seems to be unsettled when he doesn't manage to win any games for days and days. I quite wonder how Carlsen would cope with Ding Liren in a World Championship match. Perhaps he would "find the key to the Ding Liren riddle", but it doesn't seems absolutely obvious at all for me...
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