Magnus Carlsen presents ‘The Maître’s Gambit’ in an exclusive interview

by ChessBase
11/11/2021 – The Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri is a 5-star hotel located in Cadiz, Spain. Recently, world champion Magnus Carlsen visited the resort and was presented as ambassador of “The Maître’s Gambit”, a recurring activity in which Guillermo Garcia, a former Spanish Junior chess champion, plays simultaneous exhibitions against guests of the hotel. In an interview, Carlsen talked about grandmaster preparation, his early years as a chess player and “The Queen’s Gambit”

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The Maître’s Gambit

Press release by the Barceló Hotel Group

During his stay at the Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri, world champion Magnus Carlsen prepared for the coming match in Dubai and showed his support for the hotel’s chess initiative in an idyllic setting.

As part of its mission to take care of the body and mind, Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri presents The Maître’s Gambit, an experience that invites guests to play simultaneous chess games once a week with the hotel’s maître, Guillermo García García. “The idea came about from the tremendous success of The Queen’s Gambit. It is a tribute to the show as well as to the person who teaches the activity and to their skill level. Maître means master in French and is also Guillermo’s title as a chess player — he is one of Spain’s former Junior National Champions”, explains Ignacio Martín Ondé, General Manager of the five-star resort.

The idea is to give guests the chance to participate in a unique and memorable chess experience at the destination, with Magnus Carlsen, 16th World Chess Champion, as the ambassador. 

“Magnus attended our simultaneous games whilst preparing for the World Chess Championship that will be held in Dubai”, notes the maître. Over the course of several days, Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri became the epitome of chess when it had the opportunity to arrange an exclusive interview with the second-youngest chess champion in history, known as the ‘Mozart of chess’.

Magnus Carlsen

A tough player to face in a simultaneous exhibition!

Interview with Magnus Carlsen

You became the World Chess Champion at the young age of 22. What was it like to reach the pinnacle of this sport at such an early age?

Everything that happened in 2013 was amazing. Most of my life has been spent working towards the goal of becoming World Champion, and in terms of age, I was fairly young when this happened. However, I had been competing for many years and was an experienced chess player. It is now common to see 12 and 13-year-olds hold grandmaster titles, so a person must get started in this sport at a very young age in order to become a good player.  

In November 2021, you will compete in the World Chess Championship that will take place in Dubai. How does a chess grandmaster prepare for this tournament?

There are several levels in preparing for a Chess World Championship. Although I believe the main component is conceptual, physical training is also extremely important in order to become the best version of yourself for chess, both mentally and physically.  

In your view, what makes Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri the perfect place to play chess?

There are many great reasons to be here. Firstly, the weather is wonderful, neither too cold nor too hot. It is also perfect for sports activities. We have been playing football, padel and more. There are also gorgeous gardens and amazing food. This is the ideal place in which to prepare, particularly since the size is just right for focusing on the task at hand. 

What are your thoughts on the show that inspired The Maître’s Gambit? And above all, what is it about our experience that most caught your eye?

I’m a big fan of the show The Queen’s Gambit. The chess-related aspects are very well done, with many details about the sport and its history, and featuring games I have never seen before. Finally, the plot is interesting and extremely well portrayed. 

As far as The Maître’s Gambit, I love seeing the hotel innovate and come up with new ideas. Spain is a country with a long-standing history in chess. Many people like to play, so this experience offers the perfect combination in terms of the destination and chess. 

What are the features of the perfect chess destination?

The perfect place has a lot in common with Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri. Gorgeous gardens with no distractions. 

What advice would you give to someone who is delving into the art of chess?

The thing I have always loved the most about chess is how fun and interesting it is for me. With this in mind, anyone who is starting out in the world of chess should be a little patient if things don’t turn out as expected from the onset. It takes time. Everyone should do what is interesting and fun for them, and if that is chess, then great, because I think it’s a beautiful and far-reaching game, but if it’s something else, then that’s also fantastic. 

Do you remember at what age you discovered chess, as well as how it became your vocation and profession?

I began playing and learning the moves at around five and a half. Although I liked the game, at the time I lacked the patience to sit down and work hard towards improving. It wasn’t until the age of eight when I truly began to learn about chess. As I dove right in, my first goal was to beat my older sister. Upon reaching that milestone, I fell in love with the game and would study it on my own, which has been the case since. 

What benefits does this sport have to offer?

I believe there are two key things. Chess teaches you how to think analytically and be patient, but it also trains you to make decisions under a great deal of pressure. When playing chess, you are continuously pressured by external factors, such as timer and the game clock. The things you learn from chess can be applied to any profession that requires making fast, calculated decisions.

Magnus Carlsen

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3

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About Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts

Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts is the Barceló Hotel Group’s brand that features destination hotels at exclusive locations, with a strong focus on culture through the creation of unique moments. Positioned in the luxury segment, it offers authentic experiences linked to the destination, making each of its 12 urban and leisure establishments in 4 countries (Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and the Dominican Republic) the perfect place for a transformative stay. 

About the Barceló Hotel Group

The Barceló Group’s hotel division, the Barceló Hotel Group, is the second largest hotel chain in Spain and one of the top 30 largest in the world in terms of number of rooms, and it was named the World’s Leading Hotel Management Company at the 2019 edition of the World Travel Awards (the Oscars of the tourism industry). It currently has more than 260 urban and leisure hotels with 4 and 5 stars, for a total of over 60,000 rooms spread out across 22 countries and marketed under four brands: Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Barceló Hotels & Resorts, Occidental Hotels & Resorts, and Allegro Hotels. It also forms part of the Crestline Hotels & Resorts Group, an independent hotel management company with 125 establishments. For additional information:


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