Carlsen interview after the match

by Sagar Shah
11/28/2014 – A lot of people enjoyed our report on the closing ceremony of the World Championship in Sochi. Immediately after the celebrations, which were attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, FIDE's chief press officer, the enchanting Anastasiya Karlovich, sat down for a one-on-one interview with the new and old World Champion Magnus Carlsen. We have a full transcript.

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Magnus Carlsen's post match interview

We reported extensively on the closing ceremony of the World Championship in Sochi recently. It was attended by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it brought the news that FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was planning to stage the next match, the World Championship 2016, in the United States of America – without any details at the time of this announcement (our bets are Sinquefield and Saint Louis).

After the closing ceremony chief FIDE press officer Anastasiya Karlovich, who had conducted all the post-game interviews with the players during the entire Championship, conducted a one-on-one interview with Magnus Carlsen. You can watch the 14-minute discussion in the live stream below – once again we urge you to maximize the video player and watch the interview in gorgeous full-screen mode. We have also transcribed it for your convenience.

Anastasia Karlovich: This is the first time you had to defend the world title. After this tense match and struggle is the title more valuable to you?

Magnus Carlsen: Yes, everything that is hard-earned you appreciate more, and this match certainly was not easy.

AK: You wrote on twitter, ‘two down, five to go’. Does this mean that you would like to break the record of Garry Kasparov and would you like to be the greatest World Champion in the history of chess?

MC: I would like to continue playing chess at a high level, and that includes playing in the World Championships.

AK: What about the titles of rapid and blitz? Are you going to defend them again and what do they mean to you?

MC: It meant a lot to me to win these titles. It was a huge goal for me. Attaining those titles next year will be a major goal, but it’s far from easy, I can say that. With most of the strongest grandmasters in the world and with the Swiss format, coming out on top every time is very, very difficult.

Magnus flashing his award-winning smile on a Twitter message after the match

AK: You work less than your colleagues and at the same time you are the World Champion. Does that mean you are a genius or you were born under the lucky star?

I don’t know, I think I am certainly more talented than many other people. But I don’t know what talent consists of. It’s not true that I don’t work on chess much. I think about chess all the time, and before the match and during the match we spent a lot of time preparing different openings.

Many people think that you are lucky, that your opponents commit mistakes. Do you think this is some part of you being lucky?

No, that is a myth. When you put pressure on your opponents they tend to make mistakes. Sometimes in some tournament they make more mistakes, sometimes less. But it has nothing to do with luck.

Let’s talk a bit about the match from your perspective. Were you in good shape for the match this time or not really?

I felt really good for the first couple of games, but somehow after the third game I got a bit nervous. It was important for me to have two white games in a row. Then I managed to settle down a bit, and with a little more luck I could have decided the match then. In general I felt that I was in okay shape. A couple of games were not so great, but in general it was good.

You mentioned the third game in the match. Was it really a hard blow for you?

Yeah, before that I thought that I was dominating in the match, not in terms of openings but the way I played. So, yes, the third game was an awakening for me. At that point I realized that it was not going to be easy for me.

Did you change something in your preparation after that, or in your attitude?

I started to at least realise that there will be a struggle, and that helped me to have a better attitude towards the next games.

What did Anand and his team do differently compared to the Chennai match?

They played 1.d4 on move one, and I don’t know if it was because of that but they managed to put more pressure on me when I had the black pieces. Last time I had playable positions with both colours. This time, apart from the first game, I didn’t get to play with black at all. I just had to defend, and then it is much more difficult.

Some experts say that the opening preparation of Anand was better than yours in both the matches. Do you agree with this?

In general Anand is better prepared than I am, and that has been for many years. Even though we try our best it’s difficult to close the gap.

Was there any moment in the match where you felt that you might lose it. Or what was your toughest moment in the match?

I never thought about losing the match. I don’t think that is the right way to think. But of course if he would have played Nxe5 in game six, it would have been a different match. I don’t know if the outcome would have been different, but it would have been a much more difficult match.

In a press conference you mentioned that you would be happy to close the match with two draws in the last two rounds. Don’t you think your fans would be disappointed with six draws in a row, the last decisive game being game six?

Yes, but after all in the World Championship you have to think about the result. It was nice to finish off with a win, that’s for sure. In such a situation you will always take whatever brings you a win in the match.

Were you disappointed after game nine considering your tweet? [Referring to the draw in 20 moves and under an hour]

Anand was well prepared with the black pieces. So it was not a shocker that in one of the games I would have to shut it down after the opening. It wasn’t my finest hour, clearly, but I thought after the opening I had to make an objective evaluation of the position and I didn’t think that I had much to play for and I decided to shut it down.

Why did you feel so disappointed?

I did not feel so disappointed. I wasn’t very happy about it, but when you are up in the match you are not too disappointed with a draw.

It’s true, but it just doesn’t fit your style.

Yes, but it was just one game. In the rest of the match, none of them were short draws. It happens to me also that you have to just shut it down and you cannot do much.

Did you want to play more aggressively in the next games after that?

Yes, I wanted to play more interesting chess in the next games, definitely.

Which players were helping you in the match? We saw on the Internet that Garry Kasparov was supporting you with tweets. Did he give you any special advice for this tournament?

Yes, I was in touch with Garry before the match, and during the match he was regularly in contact with Peter Heine to give advice.

And who else?

Peter Heine was here, and Jon Ludvig. Laurent Fressinet and Michael Adams were helping from home.

What about Michael Adams. Why did you choose him and what exactly could he contribute?

He has a little bit of a different approach than the others. He is been one of the very top players himself. He adds a human perspective.

And the fact that he played many games with Anand?

Yes sure! He knows Anand quite well, and that doesn’t hurt.

Can you give names of players who might be your opponents in the future, maybe in two years?

I think the most obvious candidates are Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk.

What exactly changed in your personal life since the match of Chennai 2013?

I don’t think too much has changed. Even before that I was a professional chess player. I am doing many of the same things that I was doing before the match.

What about your popularity in Norway after the match in Chennai?

Yes there was a surge in popularity, a surge of interest in me as well as in chess, which I appreciate.

Click here to see the quality of the video stream in full size

Is it easy for you to walk down the street with all the people recognizing you. In a previous interview you said it was not a problem. What about now?

It depends. Sometimes a lot of people recognize me. Most of the times they have positive messages, so it’s not a problem.

There is news that you moved from your parents and live in a separate house. Is it true?

Yes, that happened before the last match.

How do you manage your life? Do you cook? Do you go to the restaurants? How do you arrange things?

Yes, sometimes I cook, but I live in the city so there are places to eat everywhere.

What can take your attention away so much at this moment that you would watch a program on television or a sport for a few hours and cannot do anything else?

(puzzled) Anything.

My final question. Suppose you meet an eccentric millionaire who tells you that he is ready to give you fifty million dollars, but with only one condition: that you cannot play chess anymore. Would you take fifty million?

Obviously not. Money has never been my motivation in chess. It is nice to make a living, but apart from that: no.

Any special price that you would agree to?


So apparently there is no special price in the world that can take away Magnus' right to play chess!

Final score

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Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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siamesedream siamesedream 11/29/2014 11:37
Someone should change this Anastasia, she's worst interviewer ever!
cptmajormajor cptmajormajor 11/29/2014 09:56
@genem those questions were asked and answered in the post game interviews of the mentioned game
cptmajormajor cptmajormajor 11/29/2014 09:55
That last question. hehe Maybe it was Putin who engineered it in case Grischuk makes the candidates. I can understand why it was asked but still a silly question. :) quack quack
Merlinovich Merlinovich 11/29/2014 07:33
As the video shows, Magnus discovered that 26.Kd2?? was a blunder right when writing it on the score sheet - he wrote Kd and then attempted two times to write <2> before he finally got it - surely he was in panic already. He managed to remain composed the minute Anand took to answer with his planned 26...a4??, but then Magnus could not keep calm anymore and laid down the head in shame on the table, and that's the reason Anand discovered in this moment what had been happening. Non-verbal communication between the two players. And a gift not accepted by Anand.

In hindsight you might criticize Carlsen for revealing the error to Anand after the move, but I think he was simply too overwhelmed by the double blunder that he could not disguise anymore. Anand's play was clearly erratic after that, for instance with 31...Ba4 allowing 32.Be4+ and 33.Bxg6 costing him a clear tempo in an already difficult position.

Incidentally Magnus made a similar fatal error against Anand in the Rapid WC 2014 where Vishy had no problems executing the (obvious) pin of two pieces, and even after heroic defence after that Carlsen lost - but still won the title. Would he have won the classic title this time if Anand had played Nxe5? We will never know, but Fischer was two points down against Spassky and had no problems to dominate Spassky in the rest of the match. My personal opinion is that Magnus would most likely have lost the game after Nxe5 even if he could play on, and most likely he would have catched up the 1-point deficit later in the match. But you never know, psychology is very important in such a match, see how Kasparov lost to Kramnik bleeding to death on attempts in vain to punish the Berlin Wall. Kasparov should have tried 4.d3 (anti-Berlin) as Carlsen, or 1.d4 or 1.c4 to get out of the psychological stalemate he was in at that point.
genem genem 11/28/2014 09:39
Magnus seems to have more than one definition for the word 'luck' :-)

AK: ...your opponents commit mistakes. Do you think this is some part of you being lucky?

MC: No, that is a myth. When you put pressure on your opponents they tend to make mistakes. ... But it has nothing to do with luck.

MC: ...after the third game I got a bit nervous. ... Then I managed to settle down a bit, and with a little more luck I could have decided the match then.
genem genem 11/28/2014 09:16
I wish the interviewer had asked Magnus - "In game 6, at what moment did you realize your move Kd2? was a blunder? Did you realize it almost immediately, or only after the game, or when?"
And when did Anand notice that Anand should have replied Nxe5! ?
hpaul hpaul 11/28/2014 07:35
Magnus was clearly sick at the end of the match; he had difficulty talking in this interview. When he met the press at the Oslo airport later, he looked like he needed to lie down and get some medication.
ChiliBean ChiliBean 11/28/2014 06:30
Only game Magnus lost was because he walked into Anand's preparation. So Magnus was playing against a computer through most of that game. Really hard for Anand to win against Magnus when both playing out of preparation after the opening. A great chess player may also have good intuition during complicated positions when the lines are not so clear. Magnus can now enjoy playing chess without the psychological pressure of trying to hold his title.