Magnus Carlsen is the World Number one and is considered to be the strongest World Champion ever. As an Icon player for the SG Alpine Warriors at the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League, he shared his thoughts on the event.
In what is a chess carnival in Dubai, Carlsen has been having an enjoyable time and believes the tournament is a great promoter of the sport, bringing it to a new level. This Chess League is a team event featuring the best chess players in the world competing in six teams from June 22 to July 2.
Carlsen’s SG Alpine Warriors are among the top-performing teams in the league. When asked about the league and its concept in a press conference, Magnus praised the mixed teams’ concept and the new ideas and competition rules introduced.
“The teams are overall fairly equal and every match is exciting, going back and forth. I think the format is really good. It inspires fighting chess and exciting matches. And for me, I think this is the way forward,” Carlsen said.
Carlsen, who is 32, has three ace teenagers in his team – all from India, Gukesh D, Arjun Erigaisi and R Praggnanandhaa. Carlsen and the 17-year-old Praggnanandhaa have sat across the table a fair few times in the recent past. Given his iconic profile in chess and lead playing role in the team, Carlsen was asked about how he supports his team given his status.
“Well, they’re really good. So, I’m just trying to let them do their thing and then answer any questions they might have. They’re really, really good, so they most of the time they don’t need my input.”
A master of the 64 squares, Carlsen, however, doesn’t have a (for him a usual) seamless record in the league As he explained, some of his results depended on the other players’ situations – a happenstance that is encouraging in his book.
“What this event has shown is that most of the matches come down to the wire, and I have made draws in several games depending on other boards, and these dynamics are quite interesting because every time, it is so tough to predict as the players are fighting well.”
The league is unique because it introduces the franchise format to the sport of chess and makes the game more appealing to the broader audiences, which Carsen finds very important.
“The Global Chess League is awesome and we have a lot of very good young players who are going to be the faces of chess in the years to come. And I think what’s happening here in Dubai is excellent and it brings a wider audience and professionalises the game more, so I definitely think we are seeing the future out here.”
Carlsen, who is always on the move, putting in the hard yards, and preparing for several tournaments, had a message for the younger players: “For me, this game has always been about fun and that’s the message I’m trying to get across to everybody that chess is a fun game and I hope others will join in the fun”.
Carlsen, who became world champion in 2013 after defeating none other than India’s Viswanathan Anand and is considered to be one of the greatest chess prodigies of all time, said he was very impressed with the Indian talent on show.
“It’s awesome to see the huge interest in chess in India and there is a huge number of young players who are taking over the sport. I think we are just at the beginning of a revolution that started with Viswanathan Anand becoming a Grandmaster. And I think it will only get better from here as India’s producing Grandmasters more frequently than before. There’s a lot to look forward to”.
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