Magnus can wring water out of a stone, which takes him to another level: Surya Sekhar Ganguly


The computer has penetrated deep into the world of chess. But at a certain point / level all players get similar help from technology. So I don’t think Magnus (Carlsen) was more technologically advanced than Nepo (Ian Nepomniachtchi) or vice versa. All professional gamers use similar software and similar types of machines. In rare cases a player can be ahead of the game, like (Veselin) Topalov was technically ahead of (Viswanathan) Anand. But usually it’s more or less similar.

Magnus won the World Cup for a number of reasons, but let’s face it, he’s a better player. The better player played a better match and won. End of the story. Nepo to win this would have been a surprise.
For me, this game was a review of the final between Bobby Fischer and Tigran Petrosian in 1971 in Buenos Aires. Fischer played the game before facing Boris Spassky. The match was pretty even for the first few games. In fact, Petrosian missed some chances to get his way. In the end the result was 6½ – 2½ in favor of Fischer. At one point it was 2½ – 2½, but from game 6 onwards, Fischer swept through while Petrosian suffered a meltdown.

This world championship was pretty similar. Magnus spoke well when asked at the press conference what he had done better in the game. His answer was to keep things simple: “I think I played simple positions better and made fewer mistakes”. When the positions were very messy and complicated, both players would make mistakes.

That’s Magnus’ strength, that’s how he plays. He is exceptionally strong when positions look fairly balanced, as he can wring water out of a stone, which takes him to another level. He patiently waits for a chance, and when he gets it, he strikes. As I said before, if Nepo had to outdo Magnus, he had to do it in some very complicated positions. Somehow that never happened.

Game 6 was the game’s turning point. Magnus won this game and gained the complete upper hand, with Nepos mistakes accumulating afterwards. Maybe it was fatigue and I’m talking about losing both physical and emotional energy. Playing a game that lasted almost eight hours took a lot of emotional energy. After playing a game for eight hours, it is very important to land on the winning or losing side. Physically, both Magnus and Nepo were very tired, but emotionally the latter suffered a blow.

After the sixth game, the kind of positions on the board fitted Magnus well and, as he correctly pointed out, he rarely makes mistakes in so-called straight positions.
That was exactly Fischer-Petrosian again. Like him, Nepo was completely unrecognizable in the second half. A player with the tactical skills of Nepo who is such a wonderful player in Rapid and Blitz; Making so many mistakes was unexpected. It could be energy, it could be nerves. His game just collapsed.

It’s not my job to retrospectively criticize a player who is much better than me. I’m pretty sure Nepo worked really hard. I’m pretty sure he and his team went to great lengths.

Still, if asked to choose an area, I would say physical fitness. You don’t get a short tie; You won’t get an easy game. So you need a lot of energy.

Things like preparing for a World Cup and reacting to difficult situations vary from player to player. What works for Magnus won’t work for Anand; What works for Anand won’t work for Nepo. Everyone will have to find their own solution. You need to find a facility and system that will work best for you. For example, before the World Cup, Magus played an overdrive to play bullet chess tournaments (one minute game). He was criticized on social media for this. But he knows what is good for him. His methods may or may not work for others. The same applies to the use of the help of a sports psychologist; some may need it, some may not.

The importance of being vigilant all the time is what I really learn from this game. It was never about beating the opponent in the opening. I’ve never seen Magnus win or lose a game in the opening. His approach has always been to find a solid position, then keep playing and gradually outplaying his opponent. You need your thinking, alertness, and energy levels at their peak to play this type of chess. You can’t get casual at all. That’s its quality and I have to say that Game 6 would go down in history for the level at which it was played.

You don’t compare the big ones. It would be unfair to compare (Jose Raul) Capablanca, Fischer, (Garry) Kasparov and Magnus; Players from different eras. The beauty of the size is that it is ahead of its time. Nobody lasts forever and the person who would eventually hit Magnus, which is inevitable, wouldn’t be intimidated by him (his aura). Someone from a younger generation.

(Grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly was one of Viswanathan Anand’s seconds and helped him win the World Cup games against Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. He spoke to Shamik Chakrabarty)


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