An inspiration to youngsters

Pics: R. RAGU

Magnus Carlsen, who visited Chennai recently to take a closer look at the World championship venue, is a special talent, a once in a generation kind, writes P. K. Ajith Kumar.

A little over a couple of months are left for the most anticipated World chess championship match since the 1972 duel between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, to kick off in Chennai.

If the unforgettable match in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik had caught the world’s imagination because of Fischer, the American genius who was responsible for turning chess into a global sport from primarily a Russian pastime, the Chennai match assumes significance because it features a young man who is threatening to be as dominant a force.

Magnus Carlsen, who visited Chennai recently to take a closer look at the World championship venue, is a special talent, a once in a generation kind. Like Roger Federer. Like Sachin Tendulkar. Like Diego Maradona.

Like them, like all true greats, Carlsen’s genius was evident from a very young age. He burst on to the global chess scene as a schoolboy. Before long, it became evident that the kid from Norway would one day be the king. The question was just when, not whether.

He is just 22. But, statistically he is already the strongest player of all time. Earlier this year, he reached a rating of 2861 Elo points, beating the record of Garry Kasparov’s rating of 2851 in 1999. In 2010, he became the youngest to become the World No. 1. He has been the World No. 1 for most of the time since then.

He has dominated tournaments like very few players before him. He earned the right to challenge Viswanathan Anand, on the home turf of the reigning World champion, with a superlative display at a gruelling qualifying event in London.

Carlsen’s skills on the chessboard are truly all-round and he is particularly lethal in the end-game. His intuition could match the precision of a computer, which is an indispensable tool for all serious chess players today. His game and personality could inspire young chess players across the globe.

Carlsen has the charisma to transcend the barriers of chess. Last April, he made it to Time magazine’s prestigious list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He is handsome and articulate. He has modelled for clothes with Hollywood actress Liv Tyler and has several sponsors. He is very much the poster boy of world chess at the moment.

Kasparov, who once trained Carlsen, wrote in Time: “Carlsen is as charismatic and independent as he is talented. If he can rekindle the world’s fascination with the royal game, we will soon be living in the Carlsen Era.”

Anand, who has won the World championship in every conceivable format, must be determined to ensure that era would not begin from this November, when the title match will be played. It should be an exciting encounter between two geniuses, between experience and youth. Let the countdown begin.

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Simultaneous display... Magnus Carlsen in action against some Tamil Nadu State players at the MOP Vaishnav College, Nungambakkam.-

Happy with arrangements

Magnus Carlsen, the World No. 1, expressed satisfaction at the arrangements made for his World Championship match against Viswanathan Anand as he inspected the venue, the Hyatt Regency hotel, along with his team in Chennai. Carlsen was accompanied by his manager Espen Agdestein and his father Henrik Carlsen.

“I am happy with the arrangements and look forward to playing against Anand. I respect him a lot,” Carlsen said.

Carlsen said his November 7-28 contest against Anand would be very interesting and that it would be one of the finest matches in the history of chess. The Norwegian said he was confident of snatching the World title from Anand.

“When playing a World Championship match, you should have supreme confidence in your abilities,” Carlsen said about his chances in the match. When queried about his role in helping Anand in his match against Veselin Topalov in 2010, Carlsen was quick to respond that he did not have any major role to play in that match. But Carlsen said he worked with Anand during 2007-2008 in his World Championship matches.

About the role of Peter Heine Nielsen, one of the key members of Anand’s team, Carlsen said Nielsen had been his coach-cum-trainer in his formative years but it wouldn’t matter much. “As such, Nielsen shall not have any role in this match as he has been close to both the players.”

Earlier, Carlsen took on 20 top talents from Tamil Nadu in the age group of six to 17 years, simultaneously, at the MOP Vaishnav College, Nungambakkam. Carlsen spent around two and a half hours in these simultaneous matches. He won 10 games, drew six and lost four games. After the games, Carlsen marvelled at the strength of the talent available in the State.