The Norwegian brought along designer clothes and interactive apps to chess and in six months time he puts his reputation as the worlds best musician on the line
Wednesday recognizes the start of a six-month countdown to the World Chess Championship in New York, where Russias Sergey Karjakin will try to snatch the name from the champ, Magnus Carlsen from Norway, “whos been” hogging( sorry, holding) it since 2013.
Still, how exciting is it genuinely? You never ascertain defeated chess players falling to their knees and rending their garments. Chess isnt like football not least because it doesnt have anything like the level of money, glitz or fanbase.
Actually, its not as far off as youd think. Chess has exploded in popularity in recent years: between 2009 -2 013 alone there was a worldwide increase of 37% in open tournaments, perhaps the most notable being the Millionaire Chess tournament in Las Vegas, the highest-stakes open tournament in history with$ 1m of awards up for grabs.
Londons 2008 resurgence of chessboxing intertwining rounds of chess and boxing gained worldwide coverage and amassed a live audience of over 35,000, while the website chess.com celebrated its billionth play back in December 2014. And when Carlsen and Karjakin go chief to chief in the 12 -round match, it will be for a award of at least 1m( 790,000 ). The match ought to be able to attract a huge global audience via TV and internet. So it is, it seems, kind of a big deal.
To top it off, the defending world champ isnt a geek with the social skills of a handless sock doll. He has an legion of devotees and his own app. Hes even done spot of modelling.
Carlsen became a grandmaster at 13. A few periods before his 22 nd birthday in 2013, he bagged the name of world champ, and retained it the following year at a tournament in Sochi, defeating former champ Vishy Anand. Hailed by some as the best chess musician the world has ever seen, hes appeared on TV, radio, billboards and the sides of buses. Ahead of our meeting, I half expect the 25 -year-old to stride in with an entourage of doe-eyed groupies. Instead he wanders in clutching a sandwich, hands me a paper bag and says: Sorry Im late. I brought you a pastry.
Carlsen started playing chess with “his fathers” at five. He started with one pawn, and I had all the pieces, and when I managed to beat him he got two pawns, and so on, he remembers. So he made it progressively more difficult as I get better. Unlike other grandmasters, it took him until age eight to genuinely engage with the game: I needed to mature a bit at the start. I only wasnt ready. He needed to become a ripen eight-year-old? Well, some people can really focus on chess at a much earlier age, even four or five years old, but I couldnt. Age eight was the right time for me.
Now Carlsen believes hes already reached the crest of his brain power? I still think people can discover at any age Im actually sure about that. Its only that the ceiling is lower for how far you want to go.
During an interview on the YouTube channel SoulPancake, Carlsen told performer and presenter Rainn Wilson that the first line of his autobiography would be: I am not a genius. Hes also claimed on numerous occasions to be somewhat lazy. So what propelled this supposedly lazy, late-blooming non-genius to the top spot in the world? It was no accident that it was me rather than my peers in Norway that built it. They may have had chess train once a week and then a tournament on the weekend, like a normal pastime. But it was something I wanted to do every day, so it was only natural that I outstripped them. How I managed to take the next steps rather than others, I cannot tell you.
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