Monday, March 22, 2010

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen

GREAT interview with Magnus Carlsen, the youngest person to become a chess grandmaster at the age of 13 years, four months and 27 days. He is currently the number one ranked chess player in the world, and trains with Garry Kasparov. He talks about general intelligence, work ethic, a bit of chess, and even less about girls. (via Kottke)

Here are some excerpts (SPIEGEL being the interviewer, Der Spiegel Magazine):

SPIEGEL: Where did this enthusiasm for chess come from all of a sudden?

Carlsen: I don’t know. No more than I can tell you why I wanted to do 50-piece jigsaw puzzles when I was not even two years old. Why did I want to know all the common car makes at the age of two and a half? Why did I read books about geography at the age of five? I don’t know why I learnt all the countries of the world off by heart, including their capitals and populations. Chess was probably just another pastime.

SPIEGEL: You are a sloppy genius?

Carlsen: I’m not a genius. Sloppy? Perhaps. It’s like this: When I am feeling good, I train a lot. When I feel bad, I don’t bother. I don’t enjoy working to a timetable. Systematic learning would kill me.

SPIEGEL: How were you able to stand maths lessons then?

Carlsen: When I was 13, my parents took me out of school for a year. They travelled around the world with me and my sisters, and on the way they taught us. That was fantastic, much more effective than sitting in school. I do understand that it is a problem for a teacher having to look after 30 pupils. But the slow speed was quite frustrating for me. I didn’t miss school at all.

SPIEGEL: Many football players use music to get in the mood before a game. Do you do that too before sitting down in front of the board?

Carlsen: Oh, yes. If I am feeling gloomy before a game, I listen to gloomy music.

SPIEGEL: Such as?

Carlsen: You probably won’t know it, a song by Lil Jon. A silly rap song, but it does me good, I loosen up. I listen to music on the Internet, but don`t download any songs. It’s all totally legal. Many people may find that boring, but I think it is important.

SPIEGEL: How is he (Garry Kasparaov, his coach) useful to you?

Carlsen: He still has loads of unused ideas for openings. And the fact that he has played against most of my opponents himself is invaluable. He senses what mood they are in, how they will open the game. I can’t do that.

SPIEGEL: Viswanthan Anand, the current world champion, is worried that you will dominate the scene for years to come. He thinks it is time you met a girl at last. How is that going?

Carlsen: I get a certain amount of fan mail from younger women.

SPIEGEL: Do you answer it?

Carlsen: It depends.

SPIEGEL: On what?

Carlsen: That is private and confidential.

No comments:

Post a Comment