Monday 29 November 2021
Carlsen stays focused
Only the doping test disturbs the chess fight
Magnus Carlsen has to show stamina at the World Chess Championship. So far, the Norwegian has been grappling with his challenger. That doesn’t get him out of his concept, but a doping test causes mood swings. Everything should get better on the birthday.
The unannounced doping test after the third game of the World Chess Championship spoiled Magnus Carlsen’s mood a little. The whole evening planning of the world champion – turned upside down! “First we planned Chelsea against Manchester United, then Real Madrid against Sevilla and then Golden State Warriors against LA Clippers,” said the Norwegian about his leisure activities.
But the doping control was “messing it all up a bit”, the 30-year-old was annoyed. During the long World Cup, Carlsen, a big fan of the Premier League and especially West Ham United, wants to change his mind. Football and NBA basketball on television were excellent alternative programs for the best chess player in the world before the rest day on Monday.
But not only for Carlsen, but also for his challenger Jan Nepomnjaschtschi. “That is actually a good plan,” said the 31-year-old Russian and laughed: “Maybe I will partly join in.”
Is there finally a victory?
The competitors, who have also been friends since their youth, will certainly not have looked together – too much is at stake in Dubai. A total of 14 games are planned, only three played, and errors are strictly forbidden. Because one carelessness, one defeat could already decide everything.
The past 17 World Cup games have all ended in a draw, and victories are rare. Carlsen, world champion since 2013, benefits from the experience. He knows the processes and successfully defended the title in 2014, 2016 and 2018, often in a tie-break with a shorter reflection period.
The first three games against his challenger “Nepo” were more of a palpation, both played precisely and without major errors. Carlsen was asked whether doping helps in chess. “People take stimulants to prepare for tests. I think that these could also help in chess. So if my chess level should drop drastically at some point, it would be possible that I will start experimenting,” said Carlsen and grinned mischievously: “But now I see no reason to.”
Rather, the chess primus relies on distraction. To be able to present himself with a victory on his 31st birthday on Tuesday with the white stones. It would be the first in a classic World Cup game in five years. And luck for Carlsen: Manchester United scored the 1-1 lead in London in the 50th minute, so at least he shouldn’t have missed the goals.