Magnus Carlsen on the passion and the game for the title

Immediately after the end of the World Championship match against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Carlsen shocked chess fans by indicating in a video interview that this could have been his last match for the World Championship.

In one item which appeared yesterday on the site of Carlsen’s sponsor Simonson Vogt Wiig, the World Champion went further. He reviewed the game against Nepomniachtchi and explained why he does not feel motivated to defend his title.

World Championship matches are significantly different from tournaments. From a young age I have always loved competing, but for me chess was mainly motivated by a passion for the game. I had no long term ambitions other than learning and developing as a player in the game. ‘chess. Later, as the tournament favorite, I was of course focused on winning as often as possible. Yet this ambition was felt mostly as an increased focus and passion, and less as a pressure. Thinking of the games before Chennai, I thought that it would be possible to apply the same approach as for the tournaments one game at a time, try to beat your opponent, avoid being distracted by the losses. (Angry yes, but not distracted.)

From Chennai 2013, the value and challenge of matches gradually increased for me. It is very special. The dynamics are so different from tournaments, you can’t pretend otherwise. I managed to stay relatively process-oriented and passion-oriented against Anand in 2013, when in the last four games it has all been about results. The potential downside is significant. You work a lot for months with a team of dedicated seconds / coaches and in the end it can all be for nothing. For the loser, the same could have been achieved without any effort. In a tournament, there is only one winner. In a match, there is only one loser.

As discussed in a video interview shortly after the game, I found that the negative started to outweigh the positive, even when winning. I have now played against the previous generation and three top players of my generation. Being results oriented has worked for me in these games, but it doesn’t feel sustainable in the long run. Passion must be the driving force. I’m unlikely to play another game unless maybe the next challenger represents the next generation. (Alireza Firouzja is 18 years old already ranked 2sd classical chess and qualified for the next candidates.)


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