‘Carlsen comes from a different World Champion lineage’

“I coached Carlsen for a year, in 2009, and I was amazed at how quickly he could correctly evaluate a position,” says Garry Kasparov.-R. RAGU

Magnus Carlsen wins accolades from legends such as garry Kasparov and nigel Short. By Rakesh Rao.

The world of chess responded to the coronation of Magnus Carlsen as the new World champion with excitement.

Many players tweetted throughout the championship. The number of tweets during the championship set a record of sorts. Former champion Garry Kasparov, a regular on twitter, took time off to eulogise the latest sensation in the world of chess.

“Carlsen’s greatest chess strength is his remarkable intuitive grasp of simplified positions and his tremendous accuracy in them. I coached Carlsen for a year, in 2009, and I was amazed at how quickly he could correctly evaluate a position cold, seemingly without any calculation at all. My own style required tremendous energy and labour at the board, working through deep variations, looking for the truth in each position. Carlsen comes from a different world champion lineage, that of Jose Capablanca and Anatoly Karpov, players who sense harmony on the board like virtuoso musicians with perfect pitch.

“It was also, of course, a painful blow for Anand and India, a nation that adores its sports heroes and with Anand’s fame (the nation) turned into a global chess powerhouse. I am one of few people who have been on both sides of this zero-sum equation, but my sympathies were very much with the challenger.

“Carlsen is the first world champion to have been brought up entirely in the age of super-strong computer chess. I grew up with boxes of note-cards and stacks of dusty books and had to learn to use databases and then chess-playing engines as they became strong enough to help, and then to beat, top Grandmasters. Computers have made players of Carlsen’s generation nearly machine-like in their objectivity at the board, so it is a pleasing irony that Carlsen himself is a very intuitive, very human player.”

Nigel Short, the British Grandmaster who lost to Kasparov in their breakaway World title-match in 1993, wrote, “Carlsen’s victory gives succour to the countless enthusiasts who feared that modern chess was becoming an ever-accelerating arms-race of computer engine analysis. His simple philosophy was, in essence, ‘Give me an equal position that you have not studied with a computer and I will outplay you.’ Call it cocky, if you will, but he was right.

“Twice, in games five and six, he defeated Anand with the slenderest of endgame advantages, defying the expectations of even the finest experts. It simply does not do credit to Carlsen to say that Anand just blundered. He blundered – yes – but only because he was subjected to constant, nagging pressure. To use a cricketing analogy, Carlsen’s style most resembles that of Glenn McGrath — unspectacular, but extraordinarily accurate.”

Anish Giri, a young Dutch Grandmaster with Nepalese origin, was spot on when analysing Carlsen’s journey.

“There is also a lot to be said about Magnus’ philosophy towards the game. A very strong player, with incredible understanding, ability to calculate and sharp tactical vision, his strength lies in actually playing the game. His main idea is to take his opponent out of his comfort zone and play, play, play until the pressure gets too high and his opponent starts to err. The more games Magnus wins, the higher his rating becomes and thus the higher the pressure and fortunately for Magnus this eternal circle keeps both, his rating and his results very high.

“Magnus also gets all the professionals mad: all those years of evolution of our game, Botvinnik, developing a whole system of preparation, Fischer, swallowing Russian books on openings, Timman, memorising informants, Karpov with the whole country behind him, Kasparov, with his team working daily like maniacs to find new ideas and directions in the opening... All that in vain, as Carlsen will get you out of your book on move five and the game will start from scratch.

The new World Champion shows us that the game can be played very differently and if you are that good at it, even more successfully. I would also like to say few words about Anand, one of the most remarkable players of all times. Anand has been a great champion for many years and a true legend. It is not clear what his plans are now that he had to give up his title, but I am sure all the chess fans are eagerly waiting for the Tiger to be back!”