Magnus Carlsen: "It's very difficult to win games"
Friday, 24 November 2006

Magnus Carlsen was the only under-2700 player in the Tal Memorial. He did not win a single game, losing two, but his play attracted a lot of attention, and one cannot call his result a failure. The Norwegian prodigy was soundly beaten by the most experienced participant, Boris Gelfand, in the starting round, but then only Levon Aronian managed to defeat Carlsen, this being in a theoretically drawn position. Have we just seen a new face of Magnus: Magnus “The Central Defender” Calrsen?

Kasparov said a couple of days ago that the difference between 2600 and 2700 is much more than a hundred points. Did you feel it here?

Yes, for example, when I played in Biel, I ended up with a good score against 2650 average Elo, but this was much tougher. It’s very difficult to win games. They are defending very stubbornly, and it is not easy to create chances. My opening preparation didn’t work out on this level, because I couldn’t get any advantage with White. With Black it was actually okay.


Sometimes Magnus could not equalize as White

Did you have a chance to analyze with each of your opponents?

Yes, I looked over my games with almost all of the opponents. And I must say they saw a lot. And they were quite nice and friendly to me, too.

What was your daily routine during the event?

Usually I got up quite late, missing breakfast. Then I ate little bit of my food, did some preparation, and went to the game. In the evening I walked, attended dinner and prepared a bit in the evening before going to sleep.

Was it the first time you traveled without any members of your family, only with the trainer?

No, I did it a couple of times before. I am sure this did not affect my performance here.


Alone in a big city

Was there anything you missed in Moscow?

It was very difficult to do any sports in the center of a big city. For example, we tried to play tennis once. But it was long way to get to the gym, and there were no free courts either.

What can you say about the upcoming blitz tournament?

First of all, I am surprised how strong it will be. I know some players who took part in the qualifier, and I must say it wouldn’t be easy for me to qualify! I have no special plans for the blitz, will just try playing a few good games. Normally I have hard time getting started – I move to slowly, and overlook things, etc., but I get better towards the end.

Could you say a few words about the winners of the Memorial?

Ponomariov and Leko just played excellently. Leko won two games, pushed in many games, and only once was in danger of losing – against Grischuk. He made a very good tournament. Ponomariov was also very impressive, having just once inferior position against me. Aronian… his performance was very different from the other two winners, but he is a very tough player to play against. It’s hard, at least for me, to say what he’s thinking. He is quite unpredictable. Also he can play great technically.

What are you going to do before Wijk aan Zee?

Well, I will go back to Norway, go skiing and try to be in good shape.


The first supertournament in Carlsen’s career was quite tough

You seem a bit sleepy at the moment...

Yeah, I feel sleepy for the entire tournament. I wasn’t waking up on time, and overall my form was not the best. Thus sometimes it was difficult to concentrate. So I am quite happy that the tournament is over, because it was quite tough.

Questions - Misha Savinov