Editor's Note: This is the first of two special world championship preview pieces - also read the piece by GM Parimarjan Negi of India. Published as "News" to keep our regularly featured article content on the homepage, here GM Jon Ludvig Hammer (a second of Magnus Carlsen for the match) tells us why he believes Magnus Carlsen will soon be World Chess Champion.
Tension is mounting as the start of the World Championship comes closer. For me it's going to be extra special, as I'm one of the people trying to help Magnus Carlsen become World Champion. I have great faith in my guy, and there's three main reasons why I think he'll take the title.
#1: He's an Extremely Good Chess Player
Magnus Carlsen has a commanding lead on the World Chess Federation's ranking. That is no coincidence. There's hardly anyone who has a better feel for the game - where to put the pieces, when to fight for the initiative, when to defend, how to set as many problems as possible for the opponent. In his last couple of tournaments, he has never been worse than number two! That's a sign of quality if I ever saw one, and a testament to his abilities.
Magnus Carlsen looks over Jon Ludvig Hammer - friends since childhood
#2: Confidence and Motivation
Not only is he a great chess player - he knows it too. He is going into this convinced he is the better player. "I firmly believe I'll win this match if I perform at my top level," he said to the Norwegian paper VG. His whole year has been about wanting to challenge and beat Anand. The qualifying Candidates Tournament in London was a very tough challenge, but in the end, he made it through. Anand will be equally tough, but Carlsen wants the title more than anything. A determined Carlsen is a force to be reckoned with.
#3: Physical Fitness
Magnus is in great shape! Soccer, tennis, beach volleyball and yoga - he's taking his stamina very seriously. This will be very important in a closely contested match. He'll try to wear down the current champ, and after one or two tough weeks of long games, I'm not sure Anand will manage to keep his head cool. And Magnus has a habit of exploiting the smallest mistakes to grind out long endgame wins - it could prove decisive.
I'll finish off by showing two of their most recent games.
I'm sure playing in Chennai, Anand's home turf, will be a challenge. But with lots of long games, where his stamina and ability to put pressure shines through, I think we'll have a Norwegian Chess World Champion by December. Who would have thought that 15 years ago?
All grown up, Magnus Carlsen and Jon Ludvig Hammer
Happy World Championship Match everyone! May the best man win.
Yours, Jon Ludvig Hammer