King kingdom

In Magnus Carlsen’s quest to become a five-time world champion

Magnus Carlsen is thirty years old and is already a quadruple world champion. Over the next three weeks in Dubai against Russia’s Ian Nepomniatchi, he will be the favorite to move up to fifth. Recently, he completed an unbroken decade as the world No.1 and has yet to lose a world title since his debut in 2013.

Magnus.Inc – man, his entrepreneurial realm and all that he owns, believes and propagates, rests on absolute and complete domination. A well-known winning machine without half measures or graceful second places. “I predict that the person who scores the most points in the next three weeks will be the winner, and I hope that will be me,” said Carlsen, obviously arrogant, “And if I win, it will probably be because I makes a lot of good moves and good decisions under pressure. “

Yet Carlsen is only human. This is his fifth game in eight years for world champion status. “When you do something for the first time it’s very exciting and you can’t believe how easily motivated you are,” said Viswanathan Anand, who has won the world title five times, “As players , we’re kind of hardwired to go to the chessboard and not want to lose. There’s a kind of grassroots motivation that comes into play. Magnus put a lot of work into this game and he wouldn’t want to let it. spinning. The average level of Magnus’ game is very high. So even on a slightly good and a little bad day, it will still perform great. Whether this turns out to be sufficient will depend on Nepomniatchi. But I think even a basic level of motivation is enough and especially for Magnus’ strength, it should be enough. “

Nepomniatchi, four months older than Carlsen, has never played a World Championship game before. The world number 4 with a bun is said to have lost 10kg of weight in recent months to get back in shape and build endurance for long hours at the plank. The interesting clash of playstyles – Nepomniatchi’s courageous and aggressive propensities against positional play and Carlsen’s late-game superiority – gives the contest courage. While Carlsen is the big favorite for his strength, tenacity and experience in such contests, Nepomniatchi is seen as someone who can bother the Norwegian as long as he doesn’t self-combust. He holds a 4-1 record in classic chess over Carlsen, returning to their pre-teens reunions.

Russia has not had a world champion since three-time winner Vladimir Kramnik’s run ended in 2007. The country’s ban from international sporting events due to WADA sanctions means Nepomniatchi will play under a neutral flag . This year, the game will feature 14 games instead of the previous 12 and the first player to score 7.5 points will be declared the winner. If the scores are equal to 7-7, a tie-break will decide the champion. The winner will, in addition to winning the biggest chess title, also awarded 60% of the $ 2 million prize, to be split 55:45 if the match escalates into a tiebreaker.

“I think this game will have a number of decisive matches,” Kramnik said, “definitely more than the last two world championships (all 12 games in 2018 ended in draws). The matches could be more specific. and the players are likely to take more risks. The psychological stability of the players, I believe, is where the game will be decided. “

As the match approached, Carlsen feasted on a regime of ball games and blitz; was spotted hanging out with Dortmund striker Erling Haaland during Ajax’s game earlier this month and spent two weeks at a resort in Cadiz, Spain, playing training matches with his team of seconds. Carlsen will open with Black on Friday, and the color sequence will be reversed halfway through the game. He won two of his four titles – in 2014 and 2018 – starting with Black.

Although Carlsen’s prowess is not in question, Anand draws on his own experiences to illustrate the satiety and the desire not to lose, in the face of the thirst to win that begins to gain the upper hand with each successive title. “There may be horror scenarios in your head,” he says, “You have a bad dream of not being a world champion anymore and you wonder how you are going to wake up the next morning. It happened to me. . That might be enough to scare him. Too. For me, in my match against (Boris) Gelfand in 2012, motivation was an issue I struggled with but Magnus is doing well everywhere. not a general problem if you look at his results in other events, only that the World Championship isn’t his favorite place. But I think he wants the title enough to be able to continue. “