Just like Hikaru Nakamura last month, on Wednesday Magnus Carlsen did an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, the social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of links or text posts. Again the result was a interesting “interview” with the world number one and World Champion, who wasn't too shy to present his sense of humor! Below is a selection of questions and answers; you can read the full Reddit AMA here.
Update: Carlsen also made a video, together with his manager Espen Agdestein, in which they comment on the first six rounds of the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament. It was posted a day after the Reddit interview:
Do you ever log onto sites like Chess.com, as an anonymous player, and just crush people for fun?
Once in a while I've used some of my friends accounts and won a couple of games... or a lot... (...) You'll be amazed at the people i've lost to while playing online...
Hi Magnus! Even though you were International Master and Grandmaster early on, did you ever feel like you have plateaued with your game, that you did not think you could get better, or did you always know that you could be the best player ever? And if you did think you could not get better, how did you get better?
Times when I was struggling, I always kept a very positive mindset. I thought that things would turnaround in the next game, or the next tournament. Eventually it did.
As for plateaued, I still feel that I have plenty to learn. It's just about translating more knowledge into better play and better results.
What is your favorite chess game of all time?
Anand - Kamsky Candidates Match 1994
do you ever struggle playing yourself age 23 in the Play Magnus app? I personally pride myself in beating you at 8 years old.
I always struggle playing against Magnus 23. When playing younger "Magnuses" I'm occasionally successful.
How many beers would you need to drink for a Master to be able to beat you?
There is no answer to this question... even extremely intoxicated my chess strength and knowledge is still in my bones.
I noticed on your Twitter account that you are closely following the 2014 Candidates tournament. Are there any games or positions that have struck you as particularly interesting or beautiful?
I was impressed by Anand's win against Aronian in the first round. It's not often that you beat the number 2 player in the world purely by technique.
Hi! What do you think of Nakamura joking with calling you Sauron on Twitter?
I've never actually watched Lord of the Rings... if I had, and Nakamura had been a better chess player, I might have been more insulted.
What do you think made you the strongest man in the world?
My coach Peter Heine told me that he saw me play as a ten year-old, and gained the impression of someone who knew a lot of theory but couldn't play that well on his own. So, it has been a long process and gradually I have learned more and more about the game.
[Username hidden for explicit language]
I've always wondered; now that you are the best in the world. How can coaches help you get better? Or don't they at all? Is it just up to yourself now to improve?
Ignorer brukernavnet mitt, hehe!
Most of all it is up to myself to improve because even the best coaches don't fully understand what's going on in my mind - haha
What's your favorite chess book? Favorite non-chess book?
Chess book: Kramnik: My Life & Games made a strong impression on my as a child
Non-chess book: close race between several Donald Duck comics (seriously).
How has your life changed since winning the World Championship? Has it become more difficult to stay motivated?
My approach to tournaments has not changed that much, even before the World Championship I was the best player in the world, so in that sense it's the same and I am the one to beat. I have the confidence that I can always do well.
What is your favorite meal, and what do you eat before a match?
I don't have a favorite meal, but before the match I would usually eat an omelette or a some yogurt with fruit.
What are your thoughts on the ongoing Candidates 2014? Does Vishy winning make it easier for you or do you have another favourite in the tournament? I ask because judging from your tweets, you don't really hold Anand in the highest regard :)
What is your response to the general idea that you are too much of a grinder? A great many number of people have said that you specialize in squeezing out dry positions rather than playing attacking chess. Many GMs have called your style of chess as its death in some aspects.
No, it didn't have anything to do with Anand, I'm very impressed by his level of preparation and general play both tactically and technically so far in the Candidates.
I think it's an important trait of a good player to be able to have the same level of focus and creativity in simple positions as well as more complicated ones and thus create chances at any point in the game. I don't think making few mistakes and playing very accurately for a long time should be a negative.