While GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren were in their final preparations for the battle of the crown, soon-to-be former World Champion Magnus Carlsen and his club Offerspill invited some of the hopes of the next generation to a training camp in the Norwegian mountains.
“It’s good to get some young players here. I try to inspire them. We have good trainers here who try to teach them properly as well,” Carlsen said.
The coaches included Carlsen’s long-lasting second, GM Peter Heine Nielsen, Swedish author and coach Jesper Hall, Indian star coach GM Ramesh R.B., Champions Chess Tour commentator David Howell and Germany’s GM Elisabeth Paehtz.
Young players from 11 countries participated. Among those who eagerly listened to Carlsen’s wisdom were Indian teenage GMs Raunak Sadhwani and Praggnanandhaa R.
“The main reason why I came here is because I wanted to know how he thinks. In my opinion, he is a genius,” Sadhwani said.
Praggnanandhaa added: “He relies more on his intuitive thinking and less on his calculation, which was very interesting for me, because I’m the other way around.”
Norway’s number-two, the 23-year-old GM Aryan Tari, who also took part in the camp, commented: “It’s just very interesting to be here and see how he prepares for the world championship—and his psychology in general.”
The sessions must have been fascinating for the participants who heard Carlsen describe his career and explain what made him dominate the game for over a decade. He told the group of young talents: “I think the most important thing I realized over the years is that a lot of people fear me. Once you realize that your opponent is not mentally prepared to play for a win, then you can take a lot more chances.”
Once you realize that your opponent is not mentally prepared to play for a win, then you can take a lot more chances.
Carlsen also described one of his key skills throughout his career—the ability to squeeze blood out of a stone and win seemingly equal endgames: “I really had to force myself to say that ‘you have to continue! You’re not better by any means, but you have to continue to play.’ I’ve won so many games that way over the years.”
Carlsen, knocked out of the Chessable Masters by GM Hikaru Nakamura in his last major tournament as the world chess champion, says he doesn’t consider this an end of an era quite yet, despite having given up his title.
“I haven’t got any plans right now to follow the world championship. I mean, I will probably follow it, but I don’t think I will go out of my way to watch the games. But I will check out the games for sure.”
Asked who he thinks or hopes will be the next world champion, Carlsen said with a grin: “I don’t care.”