September 08, 2009 0:20

Magnus Carlsen: "My job is to improve my chess"

Magnus CarlsenAs we reported earlier today, Magnus Carlsen has started working with former World Champion Garry Kasparov. In a brief interview conducted by phone, Magnus Carlsen tells ChessVibes what it's like to work with The Boss. “Yes, I always feel tired at the end of the day. But that’s good.”

Thanks to sponsors which haven't been disclosed yet, Magnus Carlsen has started working with Garry Kasparov to try and become the number one chess player in the world. For the moment the collaboration will last two years; the two started working together about six months ago and will continue to do so until the end of 2010, with a possibility of extension.

This afternoon we talked to Magnus briefly on the phone about this wonderful news.

First, congratulations with getting yourself a coach that has been quite a decent chess player himself.
"Thanks. It's a great opportunity."

How did it all start, how did you get in touch with Kasparov?
“He took the initiative. We heard that he was interested to cooperate, and I decided that this was something I really wanted."

When was this?
"Around the start of 2009."

You have already worked in Moscow and in Croatia. What have you done so far?
"We’ve had a few sessions and we’ve done some work. I cannot tell you too much, but obviously we worked on openings. As you know there are of course a lot of hidden treasures."

He’s happy to share his analysis stored in his famous laptop with you?
"Yes. And it's much easier to understand when he explains his notes himself. When you look at a certain position, anyone can explain you the main ideas, but many of the opening ideas and concepts of this day were actually developed by him so it makes a big difference to actually have the person who actually created this to discuss with."

Kasparov is known for his energy. Is it hard working with him?
"Yes, I always feel tired at the end of the day. But that's good."

Magnus Carlsen

How often do you plan to meet?
"A few sessions each year. Sometimes for several days, but sometimes longer. In Croatia it we worked for two weeks."

You're about to play to strong tournaments - the Pearl Spring in Nanjing and the Tal Memorial in Moscow - to what extend will he be involved in your specific tournament preparation?
"I discuss things with him during and before tournaments. We have regular contact, not only during the training sessions."

Why do you think Kasparov wants to do this? I mean, it cannot be just for the money.
"Well, you should ask him, of course. But I don’t think money is his motivation. I think it’s about legacy – he wants to do something for the chess world, and for someone in the chess world."

According to the newspaper Verdens Gang the goal is to “make you the world's best during the course of the coming year”. That sounds a bit vague; rating wise you have to close the gap of 41 points with Topalov. What are you striving for exactly?
"Well... since we started worked together, things haven’t gone a hundred percent according to plan. I didn’t win Dortmund and Sofia while I could well have won them with a bit more luck. We’re working towards this goal and just try to improve."

Magnus Carlsen

Obviously you want to try and qualify for the Candidates Tournament, either by rating or as the nominated player by the organizers. Do you also have this in mind?
"I'm not thinking about the World Championship very much, or the cycle in general. I think one thing is to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, but another thing is to do it in a proper way. My job is to improve my chess, which is also his job to some extend."

Does this mean you have finally decided that you want to become a professional chess player?
"It certainly means that I will be a professional for some time. I think that if I will start studying it will be in quite some time from now."


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Castro's picture

Anyway it's posible, now that Fischer is gone ;-)

gavril's picture

It's awkward that a 2750+ player like Carlsen accepted this colaboration.His play will be from now on something strange from Carlsen's intern laboratory,impersonal,actually buyed from Kasparov.It's a shame that we won't be able to see his original aesthetic created with his own soul,mind(and he has it)and emotions.Imagine a painter tacking from other,it's just not art anymore,the element named creation disappeared.
It's a word which says that :"Two swords don't fit in the same sheath".

Thomas's picture

@Jan: "He [Carlsen] is just too laid back".
Maybe it is also Kasparov's job to change this? Then he would also be a mental coach, rather than just a chessic one .... .
But I think for another reason he will not become the _undisputed_ number 1: There is just too much competition around these days ... .

Jens Kristiansen's picture

Magnus and Garry? I do not really foresee the efects of that cocktail. Well, with the right measurements of the ingredients it might be explosive.
I just hope Magnus will keep his attitude as a free, indendently thinking youngster from the free Nordic countries. These species are still around, I can witness on that, even though they seem to be a diminishing race.
My bet is that this collaboration will only work for a few years. Let`s just ee.

acirce's picture

I have a hunch it will not be extended after 2010.

Mr Wii's picture

I believe in Carlsen, he has the talent, the qualities and the opportunity to become World Champion. The future will determine what occurs from here.

Jan's picture

"I didn’t win Dortmund ... while I could well have won them with a bit more luck..."
Rubbish, he ended points after Kramnik and was crushed by the winner. He starts talking like Kasparov indeed.
Still very interesting news, it would be great if Magnus could become the undisputed nr 1 like Gary. I have the feeling, however, that he will not fully succeed. He's just to laid back.

acirce's picture

"“I didn’t win Dortmund … while I could well have won them with a bit more luck…”
Rubbish, he ended points after Kramnik and was crushed by the winner. He starts talking like Kasparov indeed."

What he said was perfectly true, I don't see why anyone would have a problem with that. Of course it doesn't really say so much, in most tournaments that goes for several players apart from the winner.

rogge's picture

acirce: "I have a hunch it will not be extended after 2010."

Well, Carlsen shuld've picked up a lot from Garry by then...

Btw, long time no see, acirce!

zemiggel's picture

I guess also Ka$parov is learning here and at the same time renewing his openingtheory. Will he return to chess????

4i4mitko's picture

Kasparov vs. Putin no chance Garry better return to chess

Frits Fritschy's picture

It may be interesting to see whether this cooperation will lead to a change of style for Carlsen. Although of course he is tactically quite allright, his fighting spirit to me seems more an ability 'to press water from a stone' compared to Kasparov's direct search for the king or for tactically crushing the opponent.
The difference is firstly that Carlsen right now is good enough to end in the top-3 of almost any tournament and is (rightly) praised for it, while with Kasparov it felt like a loss when he ever was nr. 2.
Secondly, playing 90-move games may wear down your opponents, but in the end it will wear down yourself. You will end up playing more and more draws. Collecting stamps or selling cars may get more interesting.
Kasparov can just add some extra spice.

Bobby F.'s picture

@Peter Doggers:
Are you shure that Magnus will play the Tal Memorial in Moscow this year?
(I can't find any more details on the web in this matter).

Earlier it's been confirmed that he will play in Nanjing in October and in London in December.

Bobby F.'s picture

Carlsen too laidback? Ha-ha! Very, very few players are so agressive on the board as Carlsen. He really try to win every game. Sometimes even in a foolhardy way, according to a resent comment from his father.

Apart from teaching him chess moves and -tactics, I think Kasparov kan be a strong mentally support for Magnus. To win the Candidate tournament will be a very hard mental challenge for a 19 year old young man. Propably Kasparov will be ringside and add his vast experience from similar matches. IF he wins, the WC match itself will be even harder. Team Kasparov may be the deciding factor, then.

Leandro's picture

I agree with Thomas. Topalov and Anand are very hard to beat.
Also agree with you, Castro. =)

Sumant's picture

LOL....he's annihilating the field in that Nanjing tourney...he's turning out to be someone with the same quality as Kasparov himself!

Josef Nitzborn's picture

Many readers critisized the working relation between "Magnificent" Magnus and his truly Mr. G.k. well the nanjing result is ur answer. remember, he won with a game in hand, 2.5 points, also a 3002 prat. wow! dear readers lets build chess and our fellow chess players. lets respect the leaders in our sport. or should we rather take on golf, poker, or soccer. its just reflects jealousy and bitterness. my geuss is that u cant shake ur oppo hand after u lost an important game /Tournament. MC is da best! u go boy!

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