How literature and philosophy helped Ding Liren to become World Champion - an interview in "El País"

by ChessBase
5/3/2023 – During the World Championship match against Ian Nepomniachtchi the new World Champion Ding Liren had a number of helpers in Astana. But as Ding revealed in an interview with Leontxo Garcia in the Spanish newspaper "El País", in critical moments of the match Ding also received help by thoughts and words of Louise Glück, American poet and winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize of Literature, and by the "Concept of Resistance" by the French philosopher and author Albert Camus, winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize of Literature. | Photo: Stev Bonhage

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He likes to watch and listen to the rain. But he’s also just become the world chess champion, triumphing in a sport that involves a lot of mental boxing. Ding Liren, 30, has been playing chess intensively since he was four years old. However, he completed a law degree because his father did not want him to abandon his studies. He also reads a lot, especially philosophy. Ding — who is heir to the throne of Norwegian chess player Magnus Carlsen after defeating Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi in an electrifying quick tiebreaker — spoke to EL PAÍS for 20 minutes in Astana, Kazakhstan. What follows includes quotes from previous interviews Ding has done with Chinese media.

Between the celebration, the excitement and speaking with 15 different Chinese media outlets, Ding has not slept "a minute" all night. “I only had time to take a shower,” he says. The immensely humble chess champion, who struggles to express himself in English, feels strange in a place full of cameras, cables and various technical gadgets. But Ding wants to address everyone’s questions to the best of his abilities. "I understand that the press is important." Shortly before speaking with this newspaper, he broke down in tears during the recording of his official interview with the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Ding became emotional when he began explaining the advice a friend gave him after he lost the second game of the World Chess Championship.

It was at that moment that he remembered the title of a book by American poet Louise Glück: Until the World Reflects the Deepest Needs of the Soul. Ding explained that he adapted this idea to face his professional and emotional challenges, which were marked at the time by his breakup with his girlfriend.

Read the entire interview in El País...

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