Carlsen: “I like chess like a life”

Written by Staff Writer

Magnus Carlsen can be seen in the movie “To the Bone.” Picture: REX/Shutterstock

John van der Merwe, CNN

The new king of chess has taken centre stage during the weekend’s world chess championship. After his stern 13.5/15 score in the opening round in Moscow on Friday, Carlsen sat down with CNN’s John Vause for a question-and-answer session, penning a piece on the game he loves to read.

Q: When did you first discover chess?

I’ve always had a fascination with the game but it was not until the age of 15 or 16 that I started getting serious about it. I’ve also discovered that chess is a great vehicle for education, and all my friends and colleagues know that I enjoy it.

Q: What did it take to switch from a classic French language teacher to a game in a high school in California to become world champion?

Probably a combination of old-fashioned persistence and some luck. I was in a school where, for me, math and science were the most important subjects, and my dream was to teach there. But in order to get into the school I needed to take the test that was only for international students, and I remember taking it in English. I learned English very quickly so I gave it my best shot. On the second try I took the test in my native language and got through with flying colors.

Q: Who are your role models?

Jacek Kurtyka — a very intense skater from Poland. He’s a very intense character and he’s a lot of fun to be around. And chess is like that too, it’s very competitive and you need to focus all your energy into it. It’s just a great life.

Q: What do you think of the number of female players in the game?

I think it’s quite healthy. But it really depends on the country, and women in Russia have played very strongly for a long time. So obviously it’s still an important part of life.

Q: Why do you consider Leila Nasr-Hazy, the Iranian-born 20-year-old who won the European competition earlier this year, a good player?

I think she’s a very young, energetic player. I’ve never met her but I’ve seen her playing in the world championships so I think she’s very motivated. She’s obviously one to watch.

Q: What’s your advice to people who want to compete in chess?

Do your homework. I think knowing about chess and some of the amazing competitors is a great way to pass the time — some amazing encounters, with players who are so talented and so important for chess.

Q: What’s the best piece you’ve played?

Probably ‘the auction.’ The bidding has a big impact and it usually ends in some way of victory for the attacker.

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