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Carlsen: “I’m less hungry”

The reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen gave his pre-match interview to Sean Ingle and the Guardian before his 5th World Championship match.

Photo: Eric Rosen

“I’m less hungry. I think you’re always going to be if you’re playing for the world title for the fifth time, rather than the first.” was the punch line of Carlsen’s interview. Below are some more questions the World Champion answered before the first game with Russia’s No.1 and 2021 Challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Q: Does the fire still rage as intensely as it once did?

“I’ve been a chess professional for a long time, so I think my base motivation is going to be a little bit lower than it was. But the question is really whether I can raise it for important events. That’s what I put my emphasis on. And that’s what I’ve always managed to do.”

Magnus pauses. “Right now, I don’t really feel it. I feel like I’ve been here, done it before. And it doesn’t excite me, to be honest. But I think when I sit down on Friday, it will feel very different. And I’m very, very much looking forward to that.”

Q: What’s the importance of momentum in chess, and Ian’s tendency to sometimes go on tilt after a bad defeat?

“It remains to be seen, of course, if Ian will be more resilient than he has been in the past if he is down. Hopefully I can put him in that situation. That will be my main achievement.”

Then Magnus added “I’ve said it before, but the biggest advantage is that I am the better chess player! There’s a lot of evidence, over the last few years, about the strength of the best players in the world. Having said that, it doesn’t really matter for this match. There’s a famous quote: It’s not enough to be a good chess player. You also have to play well.”

Q: So why are you so much better than everyone else?

“This is for my opponents to figure out!”

Q: Do you intend to make a statement in Dubai with a thumping victory, or are you prepared to win ugly?

“I am happy to win in any way possible! I’m somebody who puts more emphasis on the sporting aspects of chess than the artistic. And even more so during world championship matches. It’s about getting results. Because only one result matters and only one result is acceptable. But I won’t be aiming for a tiebreak in any way. And the increase to 14 games is good for me because it decreases variance.”

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