Imagine Usain Bolt on the track in an Olympic final. Roger Federer at the centre court of Wimbledon during his prime years. Imagine Tiger Woods on the golf course for the better part of his career. Or Don Bradman practically at any point of his career.
We get the picture of a true champion in sport. A champion who just refuses to be beaten. A champion who takes his sport to heights that had never been scaled before.
Magnus Carlsen is one such champion.
READ: >Carlsen keeps his crown in style
In New York, he may not have been as dominant as he was in his first two World championships. There were occasions when it seemed he was human after all, as he failed to convert his advantages into wins.
And there was also a time he was trailing, something which had never happened before in a World title match.
He lost to Sergey Karjakin in the eighth round. There were just four games left for him to equalise and all Karjakin, who is incredibly strong in defence, needed to dethrone Carslen was to avoid defeat in those games.
But Carlsen, after surviving a scare in the ninth game, struck back in the tenth. Everyone was expecting him to go for the kill in the home stretch. He, however, settled for two quiet games, saving his energy for the tie-breakers, of rapid and blitz games.
Yes, there was risk in that strategy: in games played over much shorter duration, chances of mistakes are higher. But Carlsen would rather preserve his energy for four short games rather than spend it all on one marathon game in the final round. It proved a master stroke.
He was in total control of that mini match of four games, as he won the World title for the third time in a row.
It was three winters ago in Chennai that he was crowned for the first time. At Hotel Hyatt Regency on those November nights, he didn’t show nerves of a challenger in the match against a five-time, though ageing, World champion, who was playing at home.
He was the favourite in Chennai, just as he was in Sochi a year later. Though Anand put up a stronger fight, there was no stopping Carlsen.
Karjakin, younger than Anand by two decades, was expected to give a stronger challenge. He had come fully prepared in opening theories, like a true Russian Grandmaster. But he surely could not have expected Carlsen to play Trompowsky Attack in the opening game (a tribute to Donald Trump, who had won the United States presidential election shortly before the match got under way).
But then, Carlsen could afford to do that. Regardless of the opening strategy, he has the ability to inch his way slowly back into the game and then torture you in long battles. Nobody has played chess like that before.
Carlsen could dominate chess like nobody has done before. With his good looks, skills in articulation and sense of humour, he could take chess to wider audiences.
Looks like King Carlsen is set for a long reign.