DUBAI – Reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and his Russian rival Ian Nepomniachtchi revealed some of their motivations during a press conference at Expo 2020 Dubai today, before they go head to head for the crown at the FIDE World Chess Championship (24-16 December).
The Norwegian has held the title since 2013 and is considered one of the greatest chess talents of all time. Carlsen became a grandmaster at the age of 13, and has been the world’s number one player continuously since 2011.
Two-time Russian champion Nepomniachtchi is the winner of the 2020/21 Candidates Tournament and finished second in the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix, which qualified him for the Candidates Tournament.
Who is going to win this championship?
Ian Nepomniachtchi: “Normally, I think the best player wins.”
Magnus Carlsen: “I predict that the person who scores the most points over the next three weeks is going to be the winner and hopefully that’s going to be me and if I do win, it will probably be because I made some good moves and good decisions.”
Magnus, as you have held the World Champion title since 2013, does the pressure get easier?
Magnus Carlsen: “I think some parts of it may get easier as you get more experienced but it come comes down to how you perform over the board. It’s so intense and you also have lots of people in the team who have World Championship experience. But you’re probably a little bit less nervous than you are the first time.”
Women are a minority in the world of chess. Why do you think that is?
Ian Nepomniachtchi: “I think the general issues are that girls are less amazed [than boys] in chess skills classes, and they also have other hobbies. But I think there will be a time when we see some really strong female players.”
Magnus Carlsen: “I think this question is way too complicated to answer in a few sentences. There are a number of factors, especially cultural that have led to the situation we have today. I encourage everybody to play chess. And what I’ve found around the world is that young girls find as much joy as boys in the game of chess. And if that could be communicated more, I think that would be very helpful.”
As you know, Expo 2020 Dubai is focusing on inspiring our youth – the leaders of tomorrow. What’s your advice for young generation, who want to become champions like you?
Ian Nepomniachtchi: “You have got to enjoy what you’re doing, whether it’s chess or science or sports.”
Magnus Carlsen: “That what I would say – you have to enjoy what you do to excel in your field.”
Moderated by Maurice Ashley, the FIDE World Chess Championship Press Conference also featured Andrey Gureyev, CEO, Phosagro; Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President; and Dara Maher, Regional Head of Marketing, Kaspersky.
Magnus Carlsen also visited the Spain Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, host of the World School Chess Tournament from the 25-29 November. Carlsen joined the world’s best female player in history, Judith Polgar, to take a group picture with the young participants. In total, 108 teenagers and children from 10 different countries have been grouped in 12 teams to play the finals at the event.