Magnus Carlsen is already a chess champion in the eyes of his fellow Norwegians, but now the young man from Lommedal west of Oslo will go after the official title of World Chess Champion as well. He won an exhausting qualification tournament in London over the weekend, and admitted to being completely spent when it was all over.
“I’m totally out of steam, completely exhausted,” Carlsen told newspaper Aftenposten Monday night after a dramatic day when he lost his last match against Peter Svidler of Russia. His main rival Vladimir Kramnik, though, lost his match, too. That meant Carlsen prevailed in the end and will now meet current world champion Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand in November.
Carlsen’s participation in the so-called “Candidate Matches” in London was also viewed as important for international chess itself, especially since he won and will actually play in the World Championships later this year. He refused to do so two years ago because he objected to what he called “constant rule changes” and a world championship system that he didn’t see as “sufficiently modern and fair” at the time. He since agreed to take part, and with Carlsen currently ranked tops in the world, the world championships will now really involve the best players in the world.
“This will be gigantic,” Norwegian chess grandmaster Simen Agdestein, who has coached Carlsen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday. Agdestein and other chess experts think the world championships needed Carlsen as much as Carlsen now wants the World Championship title after agreeing to take part this time around.
So even though he was exhausted after Monday’s drama, Carlsen said that “at the same time, I’m incredibly relieved, and happy,” as he leaned against a stairway bannister for support. Carlsen had to take a break during his meeting with Norwegian reporters right after the match, looking like he was about to faint. He recovered within 10 minutes, though, and returned in good shape to answer more questions.
Carlsen had also lost another match earlier in the tournament and wound up with the same number of points as Kramnik, until Kramnik lost his final match. “It’s of course not good to lose two of the last three matches, especially when I’m playing with white (an advantage in chess),” Carlsen told Aftenposten. “But I still think I deserved to win the tournament.”
He said there “were lots of coincidences at the end, I was tired and did a lot of dumb things,” Carlsen said. “But I think I played the best chess of all in the first 11 rounds.”
Carlsen, currently ranked tops in the world, thus proved his standing once again. He broke the legendary Garry Kasparov’s record in December and became the highest-ranked chess player ever. Yesterday’s victory in the three-week-long qualifying tournament for the World Championships was the latest evidence of his ability against the world’s eight best chess players.
Asked what happened in the dramatic minutes before he lost to Svidler, Carlsen said it was “a combination of many things. I was exhausted and in a bad mood. I was tempted to choose more ambitious moves than I’d initially planned. I was running out of time. It all went out of control.”
Carlsen’s manager Espen Agdestein, brother of Simen Agdestein, wasn’t pleased at all, since he’d advised safe tactics and warned against taking too many chances. But Carlsen still won the tournament and both were happy about that. Now he has a chance to be world champion, and win USD 2.5 million.
“But I’m incredibly glad the World Championships aren’t until November,” Carlsen said with a grin.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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