- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It was the first visit by the world’s greatest chess player to the world’s most powerful city.

After a traditional Norwegian repast of cod and red wine hosted by Ambassador Kare R. Aas last week, world chess champ Magnus Carlsen met with a small group of reporters at the Norwegian Embassy here to talk chess, intuition, fashion, and his upcoming title defense match starting Nov. 11 at the Fulton Market building in Manhattan’s Seaport District. The D.C. visit was part of a pre-match East Coast tour that included an 18-0 simul sweep of a group of D.C. power lawyers at the Omni Shoreham, arranged by the law firm Simonsen Vogt Wiig, a Carlsen sponsor.

Some highlights from the talk:

On his pre-match plans: “Right now I’m feeling pretty relaxed. The preparation has obviously started, but I am not really feeling the jitters yet. That will come in a few weeks. Obviously it is exciting to be playing in a place like New York City, which has such a long history of chess. Bobby Fischer was born there, there are so many young people who have taken up the game. It will be a new experience, but there will be a lot of energy, too.”

On intuition in chess: “There are actually not many things in chess that I am absolutely certain about. On the most difficult decisions, for sure you have to calculate, but intuition is just as important to me. Once I feel like I’m not playing my best or I don’t like my position, intuition is always the first thing that goes. And when I play my best, I cannot always tell you why I made certain moves.”

On winning vs. defending the title: “The first time [dethroning Indian GM Viswanathan Anand in 2013] was the hardest for me. I was very tense at the start because I built up my opponent into something bigger than perhaps he was. In general, it is the same winning or defending my title — as long as I have confidence in my ability, I have to believe deep down that I can win. I think New York will be easier for me because my opponent has never done this before.

On fashion and his reputation as one of the chess world’s sharper dressers: “Fashion is something I have trouble understanding. I never have a good answer when they ask, ‘What does your outfit mean to you?’”

Thanks to Amb. Aas and embassy Minister Counselor Jon-Age Oyslebo for helping to set up the luncheon.

The chess world lost one of its greatest theorists and coaches this week with the death Monday of Russian GM Mark Dvoretsky at the age of 68. A strong player in the Soviet chess machine in the 1970s, he found true greatness as a teacher and author. His students included such world-class talents as Anand, Garry Kasparov andVeselin Topalov and his writing on the endgame is perhaps the most influential and honored work on the topic since Reuben Fine.

Today’s offering, played in the run-up to the Soviet championship in 1974, doesn’t quite reach the endgame, but nevertheless is a study-like exercise in seizing space and strangling an opponent’s pieces.

Black methodically undermines his opponent’s counterplay, drives his pieces back into the corner and strikes just when White is most helpless: 24. Rae1 Ne5 25. Rxe4 (Podgaets may have thought this tricky move could save his position, but Black has seen farther) Rxe4 26. Qxe4 Qxh4 27. Bf3 Rf8 28. Bh1 Ng4 29. Qg2 (see diagram) Rf3!!. White is paralyzed: Any rook move hangs the f-pawn and 30. Qxf3 allows 30…Qh2 mate. After 30. c4 Kh6!, White will quickly run out of moves and resigned.


David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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