Lex Fridman Podcast - #315 - Magnus Carlsen: Greatest Chess Player of All Time

The following is a conversation with Magnus Carlsen,

the number one ranked chess player in the world

and widely considered to be one of,

if not the greatest chess player of all time.

The camera on Magnus died 20 minutes into the conversation.

Most folks still just listen to the audio

through a podcast player anyway,

but if you’re watching this on YouTube or Spotify,

we did our best to still make it interesting

by adding relevant image overlays.

I mess things up sometimes, like in this case,

but I’m always working hard to improve.

I hope you understand.

Thank you for your patience and support along the way.

I love you all.

This is the Lex Friedman Podcast.

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in the description.

And now, dear friends, here’s Magnus Carlsen.

You’re considered by many to be one of the greatest,

if not the greatest chess players of all time,

but you’re also one of the best fantasy football,

AKA soccer, competitors in the world,

plus recently picking up poker

and competing at a world class level.

So before chess, let’s talk football and greatness.

You’re a Real Madrid fan,

so let me ask you the ridiculous big question.

Who do you think is the greatest football,

AKA soccer player of all time?

Can you make the case for Messi?

Can you make the case for Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele,

Maradona, does anybody jump to mind?

I think it’s pretty hard to make a case

for anybody else than Messi for his all around game.

And frankly, my Real Madrid fandom

sort of predates the Ronaldo era,

the second Ronaldo, not the first one.

So I always liked Ronaldo,

but I always kind of thought that Messi was better.

And I went to quite a number of Madrid games

and they’ve always been super helpful to me down there.

The only thing is that, like they asked me,

they were gonna do an interview

and they were gonna ask me who my favorite player was.

And I said somebody else,

I think I said Isco at that point,

and I was like, okay, take two now you say Ronaldo.

So for them it was very important,

but it wasn’t that huge to me.

So Messi over Maradona.

Yeah, but I think just like with chess,

it’s hard to compare eras.

Obviously the improvements in football

have been like in technique and such

have been even greater than they have been in chess,

but it’s always a weird discussion to have.

But just as a fan,

what do you think is beautiful about the game?

What defines greatness?

Is it, you know, with Messi,

one, he’s really good at finishing,

two, very good at assist,

like three, there’s just magic.

It’s just beautiful to see the play.

So it’s not just about the finishing.

There’s some, it’s like Maradona’s hand of God.

There’s some creativity on the pitch.

Is that important or is it very important

to get the World Cups and the big championships

and that kind of stuff?

I think the World Cup is pretty overrated,

seeing as it’s such a small sample size.

So it sort of annoys me always when, you know,

titles are always appreciated so much,

even though that particular title can be a lot of luck

or at least some luck.

So I do appreciate the statistics a bit

and all the statistics say that Messi’s

the best finisher of all time,

which I think helps a lot.

And then there’s the intangibles as well.

The flip side of that is the small sample size

is what really creates the magic.

It’s so, it’s just like the Olympics.

You basically train your whole life for this.

You live your whole life for this and it’s a rare moment.

One mistake and it’s all over.

That’s, for some reason, a lot of people

either break under that pressure

or rise up under that pressure.

You don’t admire the magic of that?

No, I do.

I just think that rising under pressure

and breaking under the pressure

is often a really oversimplified take

on what’s happening.

Yeah, we do romanticize the game.

Well, let me ask you another ridiculous question.

You’re also a fan of basketball.


Let me ask the goat question.

I’m biased because I went to high school in Chicago,

Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era.

Let me ask the Jordan versus LeBron James question.

Let’s continue on this thread of greatness.

Which one do you pick or somebody else?

Magic Johnson.

So I’ll give you a completely different answer.

Uh oh.

Depending on my mood and depending on whom I talk to,

I pick one of the two and then I try to argue for that.

With the quantum mechanical thing.

Well, can you, what, again, what would,

if you were to argue for either one,

statistically, I think LeBron James

is going to surpass Jordan.

Yeah, no doubt.

And so again, there’s a debate between.

Unquantifiable greatness, no?

I mean, that’s the whole, that’s the whole debate.


So it’s, well, it’s quantifiable versus unquantifiable.


What’s more important?

And you’re depending on mood all over the place.


But what do you lean in general with these folks,

with soccer, with anything in life,

towards the unquantifiable more?

No, definitely towards the quantifiable.

So when you’re unsure, lean towards the numbers.


But see, like, it’s later generations.

There’s something, that’s what people say about Maradona

is, you know, he took a arguably somewhat mediocre team

to a World Cup.

So there’s that also uplifting nature of the player

to be able to rise up, it is a team sport.

So are you gonna, like, are you gonna punish Messi

for taking a mediocre Argentine squad

to the final in 2014 and punish him

because they lost to a great team very narrowly

after they missed?

The internet does.

He set up, like, a great chance for Higuain

in the first half, which he, which he fluffed.

And then, yeah, eventually they lost the game.

Yeah, they do criticize Cristiano Ronaldo,

Messi for being on really strong squads

in terms of the club teams and saying,

yeah, okay, it’s easy when you have like Ronaldinho

or whoever on your team.

It would be very interesting

just if the league could make a decision.

Yeah, just random, random allocation.


And just every single game, just keep reallocating

or maybe once a season or every season you get random.

But let’s say every, every player,

if let’s say they sign a five year contract for a team,

like one of them, you’re gonna get randomly allocated

to, to let’s say a bottom half team.

I bet you there’s gonna be so much corruption around that.

It could be random.

Obviously it wouldn’t, wouldn’t ever happen or work,

but I think it’s interesting to think about.

So on chess, let’s zoom out.

If you break down your approach to chess

when you’re at your best,

what do you think,

what do you think contributes to that approach?

Is it memory recall, specific lines and positions?

Is it intuition?

How much of it is intuition?

How much of it is pure calculation?

How much of it is messing with the strategy of the opponent?

So the game theory aspect in terms of what contributes

to the highest level of play that you do.

I think the answer differs a little bit now

from what it did eight years ago.

For instance, like I’ve, I feel like I’ve had like two peaks

and in my career in 2014,

well, 2013, 2014, and also in 2019.

And in those years, I was very different

in terms of, of my strength,

strength as specifically in 2019,

I benefited a lot from opening preparation

while in 2013, 2014,

I mostly tried to avoid my opponent’s preparation

rather than that being a, being a strength.

So I’m mentioning that also because it’s something,

something you didn’t, didn’t mention.

I think like my intuitive understanding of chess has

over those years always been a little bit better

than the others, even though it has evolved as well.

Certainly there are, there are things that I understand now

that I didn’t understand back then,

but that’s not only for me, that’s for, for others as well.

I was younger back then.

So I played with more energy,

which meant that I could play better

in long drawn out games,

which was also a necessity for me

because I didn’t, I couldn’t,

couldn’t beat people in the, in the openings.

But in terms of calculation,

that’s always been a weird issue for me.

Like I’ve always been really, really bad

at solving exercises in chess.

Like that’s been like a blind spot for me.

First of all, I found it hard to concentrate on them

and to look, to look deep enough.

So this is like a puzzle, a position, mate in X.

I mean, one thing is mate, but find the best move.

That’s generally the exercise,

like find the best move, find the best line.

You, you just don’t connect with it.

Usually like you have to, to look, look deep.

And then when I get these lines during the game,

I very often find the, the, the right solution,

even though, even though it’s not still

the best part of my game to, to calculate very, very deeply.

But it doesn’t feel like calculation you’re saying

in terms of.

And it does sometimes, but for me,

it’s more like I’m at the board trying to find,

trying to find the solution.

And I understand like the training at home

is like trying a little bit to, to replicate that.

Like you give somebody half an hour in a position,

like in this instance, you might’ve thought

for half an hour if you play the game,

but I just, I just cannot do it.

One thing I know that I am good at though,

is calculating short lines because I calculate them,

them well, I’m good at seeing little details

and I’m also much better than, than most at evaluating,

which I think is something that sets me,

sets me apart from, from others.

So evaluating specific position, if I,

if I make this move and the position changes in this way,

is this a step in the right direction?

Like in a big picture way?


Like you calculate a few moves ahead and then you evaluate

because a lot of, a lot of time, a lot of the times

you cannot, the branches become so big

that you cannot calculate everything.

So you have to, yeah.

So you have to, you have to make evaluations based on,

you know, based mostly on knowledge

and intuition and somehow I seem to do that pretty well.

When you say you’re good at short lines,

what’s that, what’s, what’s short?

That’s usually like lines of two to four moves each.

Okay, so that, that’s directly applicable

to even faster games like blitz, chess and so on.

Yeah, blitz is a lot about calculating forest lines.

So those, you can see pretty clearly that the players

who struggle at blitz who are great at classical

are those who rely on a deep calculating ability

because you simply don’t have time for that in blitz.

You have to calculate quickly and rely a lot on intuition.

Can you try to, I know it’s really difficult.

Can you try to talk through what’s actually

being visualized in your head?

Is there, is there a visual component?

Yeah, no, I just visualized the board.

I mean, the board is in my head.

Two dimensional?

My interpretation is that it is two dimensional.

Like what color is, is it brown tinted?

Is it black?

Is it, like what’s the theme?

Is it a big board, small board?

Are the, what do the pawns look like?

Or is it more in the space of concepts?


Yeah, there aren’t a lot of colors.

It’s mostly, yeah.

So what is it?

Queen’s gambit on the ceiling, whatever.

I’m trying now to imagine it.

What about when you do the branching,

when you have multiple boards and so on?

What, how does that look?

Are you?

No, but it’s only one at a time.

So like.

One position at a time.

So then I go back and that’s what, when,

when people play, or at least that’s what I do.

When I play blindfold chess against several people,

then it’s just always one board at a time.

And the rest are stored away somewhere.

But how do you store them away?

So like, you went down one branch.

You’re like, all right, that’s, I got that.

I understand that there’s some good there,

there’s some bad there.

Now let me go down another branch.

Like, how do you store away the information?

You just put it on a shelf, kind of?

I try and store it away.

Sometimes I have to sort of repeat it because I forget.

And it does happen frequently in games

that you’re thinking for,

especially if you’re thinking for a long,

let’s say a half an hour,

or even more than that, that you play a move

and then your opponent plays a move,

then you play a move and they play a move again.

And you realize, oh, I actually calculated that.

I just forgot about it.

So that’s obviously what happens

when you store the information and you cannot retrieve it.

When you think about a move for 20, 30 minutes,

like how do you break that down?

Can you describe what,

like what’s the algorithm here

that takes 30 minutes to run?

30 minutes is, at least for me, it’s usually a waste.

30 minutes usually means that I don’t know what to do.

And I’m trying.

You’re just running into the wall over and over.

Yeah, I’m trying to find something that isn’t there.

I think 10 to 15 minutes things

in complicated positions can be really, really helpful.

Then you can spend your time pretty efficiently.

Just means that the branches are getting wide.

There’s a lot to run through,

both in terms of calculation

and lots you have to evaluate as well.

And then based on that 10 to 15 minute thing,

you have a pretty good idea what to do.

I mean, it’s very rare that I would think for half an hour

and I would have a eureka moment during the game.

Like if I haven’t seen it in 10 minutes,

I’m probably not gonna see it at all.

You’re going to different branches.


And like after 15 minutes, it’s like.

But it mainly to the middle game,

because when you get to the end game,

it’s usually brute force calculation

that makes you spend so much time.

So middle game is normally,

it’s a complicated mix of brute force calculation

and like creativity and evaluation.

So end game, it’s easier in that sense.

Well, you’re good at every aspect of chess,

but you’re also your end game is legendary.

It baffles experts.

So can you linger on that then try to explain

what the heck is going on there?

Like if you look at game six

of the previous world championship,

the longest game ever played in chess,

it was I think his queen versus your rook knight in two pawns.

There’s so many options there.

It’s such an interesting little dance

and it’s kind of not obvious that it wouldn’t be a draw.

So how do you escape it not being a draw

and you win that match?

No, I knew that for most of the time,

it was a theoretical draw

since chess with seven or less pieces on the board is solved.

So you can, like people watching online,

they can just check it.

They can check and they can check a so called table base

and they, it just gonna spit out win for white,

win for black or draw.

So, and also I knew that,

I knew that didn’t know that position specifically,

but I knew that it had to be a draw.

So for me, it was about staying alert.

First of all, trying to look for the best way

to put my pieces, but yeah,

those end games are a bit, they’re a bit unusual.

They don’t happen too often.

So what I’m usually good at is I’m using my strength

that I also use in middle games

is that I evaluate well

and I calculate short variations quite.

Even for the end game, short variations matter?

Yes, it does matter in some simpler end games.

Yeah, but also like there are these theoretical end games

with very few pieces like rook knights

and two pawns versus Queens,

but a lot of end games are simply defined

by the Queens being exchanged

and there are a lot of other pieces left

and then it’s usually not brute force.

It’s usually more of understanding and evaluation

and then I can use my strengths very well.

Why are you so damn good at the end game?

Isn’t there a lot of moves from when the end game starts

to when the end game finishes and you have a few pieces

and you have to figure out,

it’s like a sequence of little games that happens, right?

Like little pattern.

Like how does it being able to evaluate a single position

lead you to evaluate a long sequence of positions

that eventually lead to a checkmate?

Well, I think if you evaluate well at the start,

you know what plans to go for

and then usually the play from there

is often pretty simple.

Let’s say you understand how to arrange your pieces

and often also how to arrange your pawns

early in the end game then that makes all the difference

and after that is like what we call technique very often

that it’s technique basically just means

that the moves are simple and these are moves

that a lot of players could make

not only the very strongest ones.

These are moves that are kind of understood

and known.

So with the evaluation,

you’re just constantly improving a little bit

and that just leads to suffocating the position

and then eventually to the win

as long as you’re doing the evaluation well,

one step at a time.

To some extent.

Also, yeah, I said like if you evaluate it better

and thus accumulated some small advantages

then you can often make your life pretty easy

towards the end of the end game.

So you said in 2019 sort of the second phase

of why you’re so damn good.

You did a lot of opening preparation.

What’s the goal for you of the opening game of chess?

Is it to throw the opponent off from any prepared lines?

Is there something you could put into words

about why you’re so damn good at the openings?

Again, these things have changed a lot over time.

Back in Kasparov’s days, for instance,

he very often got huge advantages

from the opening as white.

Can you explain why?

There were several reasons for that.

First of all, he worked harder.

He was more creative in finding ideas.

He was able to look places others didn’t.

Also, he had a very strong team of people

who had specific strengths in openings that he could use.

So they would come up with ideas

and he would integrate those ideas into…

Yeah, and he would also very often

come up with them himself.

Also, at the start, he had some of the first computer engines

to work for him to find his ideas,

to look deeper, to verify his ideas.

He was better at using them than a lot of others.

Now, I feel like the playing field is a lot more level.

There are both computer engines, neural networks,

and hybrid engines available to practically anybody.

So it’s much harder to find ideas now

that actually give you an advantage

with the white pieces.

I mean, people don’t expect to find those ideas anymore.

Now it’s all about finding ideas

that are missed by the engines.

Either they’re missed entirely

or they’re missed at low depth

and using them to gain some advantage

in the sense that you have more knowledge.

And it’s also good to know that usually

these are not complete bluffs, these are like semi bluffs

so that you know that even if your opponent

makes all the right moves, you can still make a draw.

And also at the start of 2019,

neural networks had just started to be a thing in chess.

And I’m not entirely sure,

but there were at least some players

even in the top events who you could see did not use them

or did not use them in the right way.

And then you could gain a huge advantage

because a lot of positions,

they were being evaluated differently

by the neural networks than traditional chess engines

because they simply think about chess

in a very, very different way.

So short answer is these days,

it’s all about surprising your opponent

and taking it into positions where you have more knowledge.

So is there some sense in which it’s okay

to make suboptimal quote unquote moves?

No, you have to.

I mean, you have to because the best moves

have been analyzed to death mostly.

So that’s a kind of, when you say semi bluff,

that’s a kind of sacrifice.

You’re sacrificing the optimal move,

the optimal position so that you can take the opponent.

I mean, that’s a game theoretic sense.

You take the opponent to something they didn’t prepare well.

Yeah, but you could also look at it another way

that regardless, like if you turn on whatever engine

you turn on, like if you try to analyze

either from the starting position

or the starting position of some popular opening,

like if you analyze long enough,

it’s always gonna end up in a draw.

So in that sense, you may not be going

for like the objective, the tries

that are objectively the most difficult to draw against,

but you are trying to look at least

at the less obvious paths.

How much do you use engines?

Do you use Leela, Stockfish in your preparations?

My team does.

Personally, I try not to use them too much

on my own because I know that when I play,

you obviously cannot have help from engines.

And often I feel like often having imperfect

or knowledge about a position or some engine knowledge

can be a lot worse than having no knowledge.

So I try to look at engines as little as possible.

So yeah, so your team uses them for research

for a generation of ideas.


But you are relying primarily on your human resources.

Yeah, for sure.

You can evaluate well.

You don’t lean.

Yeah, I can evaluate as a human.

I can know what they find unpleasant and so on.

And it’s very often the case for me to some extent,

but a lot for others that you arrive in a position

and your opponent plays a move that you didn’t expect

and if you didn’t expect it,

you know that it’s probably not a great move

since it hasn’t been expected by the engine.

But if it’s not obvious why it’s not a good move,

it’s usually very, very hard to figure it out.

And so then looking at the engines doesn’t necessarily help

because at that point, like you’re facing a human,

you have to sort of think as a human.

I was chatting with Demis Ashabis, CEO of DeepMind

a couple of days ago and he asked me to ask you

about what you first felt when you saw the play of AlphaZero.

Like interesting ideas in your creativity.

Did you feel fear that the machine is taking over?

Were you inspired?

And what was going on in your mind and heart?

Funny thing about Demis is he doesn’t play chess at all

like an AI, he plays in a very, very human way.

No, I was hugely inspired when I saw the games at first.

And in terms of man versus machine,

I mean that battle was kind of lost for humans

even before I entered top level chess.

So that’s never been an issue for me.

I never liked playing against computers much anyway.

So that’s completely fine.

But it was amazing to see how they quote unquote

thought about chess in such a different way

and in a way that you could mistake for creativity.

Mistake for creativity, strong words.

Is it wild to you how many sacrifices it’s willing to make

that like sacrifice pieces and then wait

for prolonged periods of time

before doing anything with that?

Is that weird to you that that’s part of chess?

No, it’s one of the things that’s hardest to replicate

as a human as well, or at least for my playing style

that usually when I sacrifice, I feel like I’m,

I don’t do it unless I feel like I’m getting something

like tangible in return and.

Like a few moves down the line.

A few moves down the line,

you can see that you can either retrieve the material

or you can put your opponent’s king under pressure

or have some very like very concrete positional advantage

that sort of compensates for it.

For instance, in chess,

so bishops and knights are fairly equivalent.

We both give them three points,

but bishops are a little bit better.

And especially a bishop pair is a lot better

than a bishop and a knight.

So, or especially two knights depends on the position,

but like on average they are.

So like sacrificing a pawn in order to get a bishop pair,

that’s one of the most common sacrifices in chess.

Oh, you’re okay making that sacrifice?

Yeah, I mean, it depends on the situation,

but generally that’s fine.

And there are a lot of openings that are based on that,

that you sacrifice a pawn for the bishop pair,

and then eventually it’s some sort of positional equality.

So that’s fine.

But the way AlphaZero would sacrifice a knight

or sometimes two pawns, three pawns,

and you could see that it’s looking

for some sort of positional domination,

but it’s hard to understand.

And it was really fascinating to see.

Yeah, in 2019, I was sacrificing a lot of pawns,

especially, and it was a great joy.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to continue to do that.

People have found more solid opening lines since

that don’t allow me to do that as often.

I’m still trying both to get those positions

and still trying to learn the art of sacrificing pieces.

So Demis also made a comment that was interesting

to my new chess brain, which is one of the reasons

that chess is fun is because of the, quote,

creative tension between the bishop and the knight.

So you’re talking about this interesting difference

between the two pieces, that there’s some kind of,

how would you convert that?

I mean, that’s like a poetic statement about chess.

I think he said that, why has chess been played

for such a long time?

Why is it so fun to play at every level?

That if you can reduce it to one thing,

is it the bishop and the knight,

some kind of weird dynamics that they create in chess.

Is there any truth to that?

It sounds very good.

I haven’t tried a lot of other games,

but I tried to play a little bit of shogi.

And for my new shogi brain, comparing it to chess,

what annoyed me about that game is how much the pieces suck.

Basically, you have one rook and you have one bishop

that move like in chess.

And the rest of the pieces are really not very powerful.

So I think that’s one of the attractions of chess,

like how powerful, especially the queen is, which.


I kind of think makes it a lot of fun.

So you think power is more fun than like variety?

No, there is a variety in chess as well, though.

But not much more so than like go or something.

No, no, no, no, that’s for.

So like knight, I mean, they all move in different ways.

They’re all like weird.

There’s just all these weird patterns and positions

that can emerge.

The difference in the pieces create

all kinds of interesting dynamics,

I guess is what I’m trying to say.

Yeah, and I guess it is quite fascinating

that all those years ago,

they created the knight and the bishop

without probably realizing that they would be

almost equally strong with such different qualities.

That’s crazy that this, you know,

like when you design computer games,

it’s like an art form.

It’s science and an art to balance it.

You know, you talk about Starcraft and all those games,

like so that you can have competitive play

at the highest level with all those different units.

In the case of chess, it’s different pieces.

And they somehow designed a game

that was super competitive.

But there’s probably some kind of natural selection

that the chess just wouldn’t last if it was designed poorly.

Yeah, and I think the rules have changed over time

a little bit, but I would be,

I mean, speaking of games and all that,

I’m also interested to play other games like chess 960

or Fisher random, as they call it,

like that you have 960 maps instead of one.

Yeah, so for people who don’t know,

a Fisher random chess, chess 960s.

Yeah, that basically just means

that the pawns are in the same way

and the major pieces are distributed randomly

on the last rank.

Only that there have to be obviously

bishops of opposite color

and the king has to be in between the rooks

so that you can castle both ways.

Oh, you can still castle in chess 960.

You can still castle, but it makes it interesting.

So you still have, it still castles in the same way.

So let’s say the king is like here.

Yeah, what happens in that case?

Yeah, let’s say the king is in the corner.

So to castle this side,

you have to clear a whole lot of pieces.

Well, what would castling look like though?

No, the king would go here and the rook would go there.

Oh, okay.

And that’s happened in my games as well.

Like I forgot about castling

and I’ve been like attacking a king over here

and then all of a sudden it escapes to the other side.

I think Fischer chess is good that it’s,

the maps will generally be worse than regular chess.

Like I think the starting position is as close to ideal

for creating a competitive game as possible,

but they will still be like interesting and diverse enough

that you can play very interesting games.

So when you say maps, there’s 960 different options

and like what fraction of that creates interesting games

at the highest level?

This is something that a lot of people are curious about

because when you challenge a great chess player

like yourself to look at a random starting position

that feels like it pushes you to play pure chess

versus memorizing lines.

Oh yeah, for sure, for sure.

But that’s the whole idea.

That’s what you want.

How hard is it to play?

I mean, can you talk about what it feels like to you

to play with a random starting position?

Is there some intuition you’ve been building up?

It’s very, very different.

And I mean, understandably engines have

an even greater advantage in 960

than they have in classical chess.

No, it’s super interesting.

And that’s why also I really wish

that we played more classical chess,

like long games, four to seven hours

and in fish random chess, chess 960,

because then you really need that time,

even on the first moves.

What usually happens is that you get 15 minutes

before the game, you’re getting told the position

15 minutes before the game,

and then you can think about it a little bit,

even, you know, check the computer,

but that’s all the time you have,

but then you really need to figure it out.

And like some of the positions obviously

are a lot more interesting than the others.

In some of them, it appears that like,

if you don’t play symmetrically at the start,

then you’re probably gonna be in a pretty bad position.

What do you mean with the pawns?

With the pawns, yeah.

Why does that make sense?

That’s the thing about chess though.

So let’s say white opens with E4,

which is, which has always been the most played move.

There are many ways to meet that,

but the most solid ways of playing

has always been the symmetrical response.


With E5, and then there’s the,

through Lopez, there’s the Petrov opening and so on.

And if you just banned symmetry on the first move in chess,

you would get more interesting games.

Oh, interesting.

Or you’d get more decisive, decisive games.

So that’s the good thing about chess

is that we’ve played it so long

that we’ve actually devised non symmetrical openings

that are also fairly equal and.

But symmetry is a good default.

But yeah, symmetry is a good default.

And it’s a problem that by playing symmetrical

armed with good preparation in regular chess,

it’s just a little bit too easy to,

it’s a little bit too dryish.

And I guess if you analyzed,

if you analyzed a lot in chess 960,

then the, a lot of the positions

would end up being pretty dryish as well.

Because the random starting points are so shitty,

you’re forced to.

You’re actually forced to play symmetrically.

Like you cannot actually try and play

in a more sort of interesting, interesting manner.

Is there any other kind of variations

that are interesting to you?

Oh yeah, there are, there are several.

So no castling chess has been,

has been promoted by former world champion,

Vladimir Kramnik.

There have been a few tournaments with that,

not any that I’ve participated in though.

I kind of like it.

Also, my coach uses like non castling engines quite a bit

to analyze regular positions

to just to get a different, different perspective.

So castling is like a defensive thing.

So if you remove castling,

it forces you to be more offensive, is that why?

Yeah, it just, yeah, for sure.

It seems like a tiny little difference.

No castling probably forces you

to be a little bit more defensive at the start,

or I would guess so,

because you cannot suddenly escape with the kings.

It’s going to make the game a bit slower at the start,

but I feel like eventually it’s going to,

it’s going to make the more games more,

well, less droish for sure.

Then you have some weirder variants,

like where the pawns can move both diagonally and forward.

And also you have self capture chess,

which is quite interesting.

So that pawns can,

or pieces could commit suicide or what?

Yeah, people can.

Why would that be a good move?

No, sometimes one of your pieces occupy a square.

I mean, let me just set up a position.

Let’s put it like this, for instance, like here.

I mean, there are a lot of ways to checkmate for white,

like this for instance, or there are several ways,

but like this would be a checkmate.

Oh, cool.

For people who are just listening,

yeah, basically you’re bringing in a knight close

to the whole, the king, the queen and so on,

and you replace the knight with a queen.

Yeah, that’s interesting.

So you can have like a front of pieces,

and then you just replace them with the second piece.

Yeah, I mean, that could be interesting.

I think also maybe sometimes it’s just clearance,

basically it adds an extra element of clearance.

So I think there are many, many different variants.

I don’t think any of them are better than the one

that has been played for at least a thousand years,

but it’s certainly interesting to see.

So one of your goals is to reach

the FIDEELO chess rating of 2900.

Maybe you can comment on how is this rating calculated

and what does it take to get there?

Is it possible for a human being to get there?

Basically you play with a factor of 10,

which means that if I were to play against an opponent

who’s rated the same as me, I would be expected

to score 50%, obviously, and that means

that I would win five points with a win,

lose five points with a draw, and then equal if I draw.

If your opponent is 200 points lower rated,

you’re expected to score 75% and so on.

And you establish that rating by playing a lot of people,

and then it slowly converges towards an estimate

of how likely you are to win or lose against different people.

Yeah, and my rating is obviously carried

through thousands of games.

Right now, my rating is 2861, which is decent.

I think that pretty much corresponds

to the level I have at the moment,

which means in order to reach 2900,

I would have to either get better at chess,

which I think is fairly hard to do,

at least considerably better.

So what I would need to do is try and optimize

even more in terms of preparations, everything.

Not necessarily like selecting tournaments and so on,

but just optimizing in terms of preparation,

making sure I never have any bad days.

So you basically can’t lose.

Yeah, I basically can’t fuck up ever

if I wanna reach that goal.

And so I think reaching 2900 is pretty unlikely.

The reason I’ve set the goal is to have something

to play for, to have a motivation

to actually try and be at my best when I play.

Because otherwise, I’m playing to some extent,

mostly for fun these days in that I love to play,

I love to try and win, but I don’t have a lot to prove

or anything, but that gives me at least the motivation

to try and be at my best all the time,

which I think is something to aim for.

So at the moment, I’m quite enjoying that process

of trying to, yeah, trying to optimize.

What would you say motivates you in this now

and in the years leading up to now?

The love of winning or the fear of losing?

So for the World Championship,

it’s been fear of losing for sure.

Other tournaments, love of winning is a great, great factor

and that’s why I also get more joy

from winning most tournaments than I do

for winning the World Championship

because then it’s mostly been a relief.

I also think I enjoy winning more now than I did before

because I feel like I’m a little bit more relaxed now.

And I also know that it’s not gonna last forever.

So every little win, I appreciate a lot more now.

And yeah, in terms of fear of losing,

that’s a huge reason why I’m not gonna play

the World Championship

because it really didn’t give me a lot of joy.

It really was all about avoiding losing.

Why is it that the World Championship

really makes you feel this way, the anxiety?

So when you say losing, do you mean not just the match

but every single position, like the fear of a blunder?

No, I mean, the blunder is okay.

Like when I sit down at the board,

then it’s mostly been fine because then I’m focused on.

Got it.

Then I’m focused on the game

and then I know that I can play the game.

It’s a time like in between, like knowing that,

you know, I feel like losing is not an option

because it’s the World Championship

and because in a World Championship, there are two players.

There’s a winner and a loser.

If I don’t win a random tournament that I play,

then, you know, I’m usually, it depends on the tournament.

I might be disappointed for sure.

Might even be pretty pissed,

but ultimately, you know, you go on to the next one.

With the World Championship,

you don’t go on to the next one.

It’s like, it’s years.


And it also has been like,

it’s been a core part of my identity for a while now

that I am World Champion.

And so there’s not an option of losing that.


Yeah, there’s, you’re gonna have to,

at least for a couple of years,

carry the weight of having lost.

You’re the former World Champion now,

if you lose versus the current World Champion.

There are certain sports that create that anxiety

and others that don’t.

For example, I think UFC, like mixed martial arts

are a little better with losing.

It’s understood, like everybody loses.

But then.

Not everybody though.

Not everybody.


Khabib entered the chat.

But in boxing, there is like that extra pressure

of like maintaining the championship.

I mean, maybe you could say the same thing

about the UFC as well.

So for you personally, for a person who loves chess,

the first time you won the World Championship,

that was the big, that was the thing that was fun.


And then everything after is like stressful.



There was certainly stress involved the first time as well.

But it was nothing compared to the others.

So the only World Championship after that

that I really enjoyed was the one in 2018

against the American Fabiano Caruana.

And what that made that different

is that I’d been kind of slumping for a bit

and he’d been on the rise.

So our ratings were very, very similar.

They were so close that if at any point during the match

I’d lost the game,

he would have been ranked as number one in the world.

Like our ratings were so close that for each draw,

they didn’t move.


And the game itself was close.

Yeah, the games themselves were very close.

I had a winning position in the first game

that I couldn’t really get anywhere for a lot of games.

Then he had a couple of games

where he could potentially have won.

Then in the last game I was a little bit better.

And eventually they were all drawn.

But I felt like all the way

that this is an interesting match against an opponent

who is at this position at this point equal to me.

And so losing that would not have been this disaster.

Because in all the other matches,

I would know that I would have lost against somebody

who I know I’m much better than.

And that would be a lot harder for me to take.

Well, that’s fascinating and beautiful

that the stress isn’t from losing.

Because you have fun.

You enjoy playing against somebody who’s as good as you,

maybe better than you.

That’s exciting to you.


It’s losing at this high stakes thing

that only happens rarely to a person

who’s not as good as you.

Yeah, and that’s why it’s also been incredibly frustrating

in other matches, like when I know,

when we play draw after draw.

And I can just, I know that I’m better.

I can sense during the game

that I understand it better than them.

But I cannot get over the hump.

So you are the best chess player in the world.

And you not playing the World Championship

really makes the World Championship not seem important.

Or I mean, there’s an argument to be made for that.

Is there anything you would like to see

if you had a change about the World Championship

that would make it more fun for you?

And better for the game of chess period

for everybody involved?

So I think 12 games or now 14 games

that there is for the World Championship

is a fairly, fairly low sample size.

If you want to determine who the best player is,

or at least the best player in that particular matchup,

you need more games.

And I think to some extent,

if you’re gonna have a World Champion

and call them the best players,

best player, you gotta make sure

that the format increases the chance

of finding the best player.

So I think having more games,

and if you’re gonna have a lot more games,

then you need to decrease the time control a bit,

which in turn, I think is also a good thing

because in very long time controls with deep preparation,

you can sort of mask a lot of your deficiencies

as a chess player

because you have a lot of time to think and to defend.

And also, yeah, you have deep preparation.

So I think those would be, for me to play,

those would be the main things,

more games and less time.

So you want to see more games

and rules that emphasize pure chess?

Yeah, but already less time emphasizes pure chess

because defensive techniques are much harder

to execute with a little time.

What do you think, is there a sweet spot in terms of,

are we talking about Blitz?

Is it, how many minutes?

I think Blitz is a bit too fast.

To their credit, this was suggested by Fieda as well.

For a start to have two games per day,

and let’s say you have 45 minutes a game

plus 15 or 30 seconds per move,

that means that each sessions will probably be about,

or a little less than two hours.

That would be a start.

Also what we’re playing in the tournament

that I’m playing here in Miami,

which is four games a day

with 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move,

those four would be more interesting

than the one there is now.

And I understand that there are a lot of traditions.

People don’t want to change the World Championship.

That’s all fine.

I just think that the World Championship

should do a better job of trying to reflect

who’s the best overall chess player.

So would you say like, if it’s faster games,

you’d probably be able to get a sample size

of like over 20 games, 20, 30, 40.

You think there’s a number that’s good

over a long period of time?

Well, I would prefer as many as possible.

So like a hundred?

Yeah, but let’s say you play 12 days, two games a day.

You know, that’s 24.

I feel like that’s already quite a bit better.

You play like one black game, one white game each day.

Endurance wise, that’s okay?

Yeah, I think that’s fine.

Like you will have free days as well.

So I don’t think that will be a problem.

And also you have to prepare two sets of openings

for each day, which makes it more difficult

for the teams preparing, which I think is also good.

Let me ask you a fun question.

If Hikaru Nakamura was one of the two people,

I guess, I apologize.

Yeah, he could have finished second.

So he lost the last round of the candidates.

Yeah, and maybe you can explain to me,

internet speed copium is something you tweeted.


But if he got second, would you just despite him

still play the world championship?

That’s internet question.

And when the internet asks, I must abide.

The dude abides.

Yeah, sure.

Thank you, internet.

So after the last match, I did an interview

right after where I talked about the fact

that I was unlikely to play the next one.

I’d spoken privately to both family, friends,

and of course also my chess team

that this was likely going to be the last match.

What happened was that right before

the world championship match,

there was this young player, Alireza Firouzsa.

He had a dramatic rise.

He rose to second in the world rankings.

He was 18 then, he’s 19 now.

He qualified for the candidates.

And it felt like there was like at least

a half realistic possibility that he could be the challenger

for the next world championship.

And that sort of lit a fire under me.

Do you like that idea?

Yeah, I like that a lot.

I love the idea of playing him in the next world championship.

And originally, I was sure that I wanted to announce

right after the tournament, the match,

that this was it, I’m done.

I’m not playing the next one.

But this lit a fire under me.

So that made me think, this actually motivates me.

And I just wanted to get it out there for several reasons

to create more hype about the candidates,

to sort of motivate myself a little bit,

maybe motivate him.

Also, obviously I wanted to give people a heads up

for the candidates that you might be playing

for more than first place.

Normally, the candidates is first place or best.

It’s like the world championship.

And then, so Nakamura was one of many people

who just didn’t believe me, which is fair.

Because I’ve talked before about not necessarily wanting

to defend again.

But I never talked as concretely or was as serious as this time.

So he simply didn’t believe me.

And he was very vocal about that.

And he said, nobody believed me, no other players,

which may or may not have been true.

And then, yeah, he lost the last game.

And he didn’t qualify.

But to answer the question, no, I’d already at that point

decided that I wouldn’t play.

I would have liked it less if he had not lost the last round.

But the decision was already made.

Does it break your heart a little bit

that you’re walking away from it?

In all the ways that you mentioned

that it’s just not fun, there’s a bunch of ways

that it doesn’t seem to bring out the best kind of chess.

It doesn’t bring out the best out of you

in the particular opponents involved.

Does it just break your heart a little bit?

Like you’re walking away from something,

or maybe the entire chess community

is walking away from a kind of a historic event that

was so important in the 20th century at least?

So I won the championship in 2013.

I said no to the candidates in 2011.

I didn’t particularly like the format.

I also wasn’t, I was just not in the mood.

I didn’t want the pressure that was connected with the World


And I was perfectly content at the time

to play the tournaments that I did play,

also to be ranked number one in the world.

I was comfortable with the fact that I knew that I was the best

and I didn’t need a title to show others.

And what happened later is I suddenly decided to play.

In 2013, they changed the format.

I liked it better.

I just decided, it could be interesting.

Let’s try and get this.

There really wasn’t more than that to it.

It wasn’t like fulfilling lifelong dream or anything.

I just thought, let’s play.

So it’s just a cool tournament, a good challenge.

Yeah, it’s a cool tournament, it’s a good challenge.

Why not?

It’s something that could be a motivation.

It motivated me to get in the best shape of my life

that I had been until then.

So it was a good thing.

And 2013 match brought me a lot of joy as well.

So I’m very, very happy that I did that.

But I never had any thoughts that I’m

going to keep the title for a long time.

Immediately after the match in 2013,

also before the match, I’d spoken against the fact

that the champion is seeded into the final, which

I thought was unfair.

After the match, I made a proposal

that we have a different system where the champion doesn’t

have these privileges.

And people’s reaction, both players and chess community,

was generally like, OK, we’re good.

We don’t want that.

You keep your privileges.

And I was like, OK, whatever.

So you want to fight for it every time?

Yeah, I want that.

I have to ask, just in case you have an opinion,

if you can maybe from a fantasy chess perspective

analyze Ding versus Nepo, who wins?

The current, the two people that would

play if you’re not playing.

Generally, I would consider that Ding has a slightly better

overall chess strength.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each,

if you can summarize it?

So Nepo, he’s even better at calculating short lines

than I am.

But he can sometimes lack a little bit of depth.

In short lines, he’s an absolute calculation monster.

He’s extremely quick.

But he can sometimes lack a bit of depth.

Also recently, he’s improved his openings quite a bit.

So now he has a lot of good ideas.

And he’s very, very solid.

Ding is not quite as well prepared.

But he has an excellent understanding

of dynamics and imbalances in chess, I would say.

What do you mean by imbalances?

Imbalances like bishops against knights

and material imbalances.

He can take advantage of those.

Yes, I would say he’s very, very good at that

and understanding the dynamic factors,

as we call them, like material versus time, especially.

I think Nepo got the better of him and the candidates.

So what’s your sense why Ding has

an edge in the championship?

I feel like individual past results hasn’t necessarily

been a great indicator of world championship results.

I feel like overall chess strength is more important.

To be fair, I only think Ding has a very small edge.

Difference is not big at all.

But our individual head to head record

was probably the main reason that a lot of people

thought Nepo had a good chance against me as well.

It was like 4 to 1 in his favor before the match.

But that was just another example

of why that may not necessarily mean anything.

Also in our case, it was a very, very low sample size,

I think, about the size of the match in total, 14 games.

And that generally doesn’t mean much.

How close were those games, would you say, in your mind

for the previous championship?

So that game six was a turning point where you won.

Was there any doubt in your mind that if you

do a much larger sample size that you’ll

get the better of Nepo?

No, no, larger sample size is always good for me.

So world championship, it’s a great parallel to football

because it’s a low scoring game.

And if the better player or the better team scores,

they win most of the time.

Oh, that’s generally for championships or in general?

Yeah, for championships.

They generally, generally win because the other slightly

weaker team, they’re good enough to defend

to make it very, very difficult for the others.

But when they actually have to create the chances,

then they have no chance.

And then it very often ends with a blowout

as it did in our match.

If I hadn’t won game six, it probably

would have been very, very close.

He might have edged it.

There’s obviously a bigger chance

that I would have edged it.

But this is just what happens a lot in chess,

but also in football that matches are close

and then they somebody scores, somebody scores

and then things change.

And this gives people the illusion

that the matchup was very close.

Well, actually, it just means that the nature of the game

makes the matches close very often.

But it’s always much more likely that one of the teams

is going to or one of the players

is going to break away than the others.

And in other matches as well, even though a lot of people

before the match in 2016 against Karjakin,

there were people who thought before the match

that I was massively overrated as a favorite

and that essentially the match was pretty, pretty close,

like whatever, 60, 40, or some people even said like 55, 45.

And what I felt was that the match went very, very wrong

for me and I still won.

And some people saw that as an indication

that the pre match probabilities were probably

a bit closer than people thought.

Well, I would look at it in the way that everything went wrong

and I still won, which probably means

that I was a pretty big favorite to begin with.

I do have a question to you about that match, but first,

so Sergei Karjakin was originally a qualifier

for the candidate tournament, but was disqualified

for breaching the FIDE code of ethics

after publicly expressing approval

for the 2022 Russian invasion in Ukraine.

You look at the Cold War and some of the US

versus Russian games of the past,

does politics, does some of this geopolitics,

politics ever creep its way into the game?

Do you feel the pressure, the immensity of that

as it does sometimes for the Olympics,

these big nations playing each other,

competing against each other,

almost like fighting out in a friendly way,

the battles, the tensions that they have

in the space of geopolitics?

Yeah, I think it still does.

So the president of the World Chess Federation

who was just reelected is a Russian.

Like I like him personally, for sure,

but he is quite connected to the Kremlin.

And it’s quite clear that the Kremlin

considers it at least a semi important goal

to bring the chess crown home to Russia.

So it’s still definitely a factor.

And I mean, I can answer for in the Karjakin case,

like I don’t have a strong opinion

on whether he should have been banned or not.

Obviously, I don’t agree with anything

that he says.

But in principle, I think that you should ban

either no Russians or all Russians.

I’m generally not particularly against either,

but I don’t love banning wrong opinions,

even if they are as reprehensible as his have been.

Yeah, there’s something about the World Chess Championships

or the Olympics where it feels like banning

is counterproductive to the alleviating

some of the conflicts.

We don’t know.

This is the thing though.

We really don’t know about the long term conflicts.

And a lot of people try to do the right thing in this sense,

which I don’t really blame at all.

It’s just that we don’t know.

And I guess sometimes there are other ways

you wanna try and help as well.

See, like within the competition,

within some of those battles of US versus Russia

or so on of the past,

there’s also between the individuals,

maybe you’ll disagree with this,

but from a spectator perspective,

there’s still a camaraderie.

Like at the end of the day,

there’s a thing that unites you,

which is this like appreciation

of the fight over the chessboard.

Even if you hate each other.

Yeah, for sure.

I think for every match that’s been,

you would briefly discuss the game

with your opponent after the game,

no matter how much you hate each other.

And I think that’s lovely.

And Kasparov, I mean, he was quoted,

like when somebody in his team asked him like,

why are you talking to Karpov after the game?

Like you hate that guy.

And he’s like, yeah, sure.

But he’s the only one who understands me.

Yeah, the only one who understands.

So that’s, no, I think that’s really lovely.

And I would love to see that in other areas as well,

that you can, regardless of what happens,

you can have a good chat about the game.

You can just talk about the ideas

with people who understand what you understand.

So if you’re not playing the world championships,

there’s a lot of people who are saying

that perhaps the world championships don’t matter anymore.

Do you think there’s some truth to that?

I said that back a long time ago as well,

that for me, I don’t know if it never happened.

So I don’t know what would have happened,

but I was thinking like the moment that I realized

that I’m not the best player in the world,

like I felt like morally I have to renounce

the world championship title, you know,

because it doesn’t mean anything

as long as you’re not the best player.

So the ratings really tell a bigger, a clearer story.

I think so, at least over time.

Like I’m a lot more proud of my streak

of being rated number one in the world,

which is now since I think the summer of 2011.

I’m a lot more proud of that than the world championships.

How much anxiety or even fear do you have

before making a difficult decision on the chessboard?

So it’s a high stakes game.

How nervous do you get?

How much anxiety do you have in all that calculations?

You’re sitting there for 10, 15 minutes

because you’re in a fog.

There’s always a possibility of a blunder, of a mistake.

Are you anxious about it?

Are you afraid of it?

Really depends.

I have been at times.

I think the most nervous I ever been was game 10

of the world championships in 2018.

I know that was just a thrilling game.

I was black.

I basically abandoned the queen side at some point

to attack him on the king side.

And I knew that my attack, if it doesn’t work,

I’m going to lose, but I had so much adrenaline.

So that was fine.

I thought I was going to win.

Then at some point I realized that it’s not so clear

and that my time was ticking and I was just getting

so nervous.

I still remember what happened.

Like we played this time trouble phase

where he had very little time, but I had even less.

And I just remember, I kind of remember much of it,

just that when it was over, I was just so relieved

because then it was clear that the position

was probably gonna be routed in a draw.

Otherwise I’m often nervous before games,

but when I get there, it’s all business.

And especially when I’m playing well,

I’m never afraid of losing when I play

because I trust my instincts.

I trust my skills.

How much psychological intimidation is there

from you to the other person, from the other person to you?

I think people would play a lot better

if they played against an anonymous me.

I would love to have a tournament online

where let’s say you play 10 of the best players in the world

and for each round you don’t know who you’re playing.

That’s an interesting question.

There’s these videos where people eat McDonald’s

or Burger King or Diet Coke versus Diet Pepsi.

Would people be able to tell they’re playing you

from the style of play, do you think?

Or from the strength of play?

If there was a decent sample size, sure.

And what about you?

Would you be able to tell others?

In just one game?

Very unlikely.

What sample size would you need to tell accurately?

I feel like this is science.

Yeah, I think 20 games would help a lot.

Per person?


But I know that they’ve already developed AI bots

that are pretty good at recognizing somebody’s style.


Which is quite fascinating.

And it’d be fascinating if those bots

were able to summarize the style somehow.

Maybe great attacking chess,

like some of the same characteristics

you’ve been describing like great at short line calculations

all that kind of stuff.


Or did you just talk shit?

No, but really all the best chess players,

there are basically just two camps.

People who are good at longer lines or shorter lines.

It’s the hare and the tortoise, basically.

And sometimes, you know,

I feel like I’m the closest you can get

to a high bridge of those.

Because you got both,

you’re good in every position.

So the middle game and end game.

Yeah, and also I can think to some extent

both rapidly and deeply,

which a lot of people, they can’t do both.

But I mean, to answer your question from before,

I think, yeah,

I sometimes can get a little bit intimidated

by my opponent,

but it’s mostly if there’s something unknown.

It’s mostly if it’s something

that I don’t understand fully.

And I do think, especially when I’m playing,

well, people, they just play more timidly against me

than they do against each other.

Sometimes without even realizing it.

And I certainly use that to my advantage.

If I sense that my opponent is apprehensive,

if I sense that they are not gonna necessarily

take all their chances,

it just means that I can take more risk.

And I always try and find that balance.

To shake them up a little bit.


What’s been the toughest loss of your career

that you remember?

Would that be the World Championship match?

Oh yeah, for sure.

Game eight in 2016.

And who was it against?

Against Karjakin in New York.

Can you take it through the story of that game?

Where were you before that game

in terms of game one through seven?

Yeah, so game one and two, not much happened.

Game three and four, I was winning in both of them.

And normally, I should definitely have converted both.

I couldn’t, partly due to good defense on his part,

but mostly because I just, I messed up.

And then after that, games five, six, and seven,

not much happened.

I was getting impatient at that point.

So for game eight, I was probably ready

to take a little bit more risks than I had

before, which I guess was insane

because I knew that he couldn’t beat me

unless I beat myself.

Like he wasn’t strong enough to outplay me.

And that was leading to impatience somehow?

And impatience.

No, because I knew that I was better.

I knew that I was better.

I knew that I just needed to win one game

and then the match is over.

That’s what happened in 2021 as well.

Like when I won the first game against Nebo,

I knew that the match was over

unless I like fuck up royally,

then he’s not gonna be able to beat me.

So what happened was that I played

a kind of an innocuous opening as White,

just trying to get a game,

trying to get him out of book as soon as possible.


Okay, can you elaborate?

Innocuous, get him out of the book.

No, basically I set up pretty defensively as White.

I wasn’t really crossing into his half at the start at all.

I was just, I played more like a system

more than like a concrete opening.

It was like, I’m gonna set up my pieces this way.

You can set them up however you want.

And then later where sort of the armies are gonna meet.

I’m not gonna try and bother you at the start.

And that means you’re gonna have

with as many pieces as possible

kind of pure chess in the middle game

without any of the lines,

the standard lines in the opening.


And so there was at some point

a couple of exchanges,

then some maneuvering, a little bit better.

Then he was sort of equalizing

and then I started to take too many risks.

And I was still sort of fine,

but then at some point I realized

that I’d gone a bit too far

and I had to be really careful.

Then I just froze.

I just completely froze.


Yeah, mentally.

What happened?

I realized that all the thoughts of I might lose this.

What have I done?

Why did I take so many risks?

I knew that I could have drawn at any moment.

Just be patient.

Don’t give him these opportunities.

What triggered that phase transition in your mind?

No, it was just a position on the board.

Realizing there was one particular move he played

that I missed.

And then I realized that this could potentially

not go my way.

So then I made another couple of mistakes

and he, to his credit,

once he realized he had the chance,

he knew that this was his one chance.

He had to take it.

And so he did.

And yeah, that’s the worst I’ve ever felt

after a chess game.

I realized that I’m probably gonna lose my title

against somebody who’s not even close to my level.

And I’ve done it because of my own stupidity, most of all.

And that was really, really…

At the time, I was all in my own head.

That was hard to deal with.

And I felt like I didn’t really recover too much

for the next game.

So what I did, there was a free day after the eighth game.

So I did something that I never did

at any other world championship.

Like after game eight, I just,

I got drunk with my team.


That’s not a standard procedure.

No, no.

That’s the only time that’s happened

in the world championship during the match.

So yeah, I just tried to forget.

But still before game nine…

Game nine, I was a little bit more relaxed,

but I was still a bit nervous.

Then game nine, I almost lost as well.

Then only game 10.

Game 10, I was still, I wasn’t in a great mood.

I was really, really tense.

The opening was good.

I had some advantage.

I was getting optimistic.

Then I made one mistake.

He could have forced a draw.

And then all the negativity came back.

Like, I was thinking during the game,

like how am I going to play for a win with Black

in the next game?

Like, what am I doing?

And then, you know, eventually it ended well.

It didn’t find the right line.

I ground him down.

Actually, I played at some point pretty well

in the end game.

And after that game, like there was such a weight.

Lifted? Lifted.

No, after that, there was like no thought

of losing the match whatsoever.

I knew that, okay, I’d basically gotten away with,

not with murder, but gotten away with something.

What can you say about the after game eight?

Where are the places you’ve gone in your mind?

Do you go to some dark places?

We’re talking about like depression.

Do you think about quitting at that point?

No, I mean, I think about quitting

every time I lose a classical game.

Or at least I used to.

Like, especially if it’s in a stupid way,

I’m thinking like, okay, if I’m gonna play like this,

if I’m gonna do things that I know are wrong,

then, you know, I might as well quit.

No, that’s happened a bunch of times.

And I’ve definitely gotten a bit more carefree

about losing these days,

which it’s not necessarily a good thing.

Like my hatred of losing led to me not losing a lot.

Losing a lot and it also lit the fire under me

that I think my performance after losses

in classical chess over the last 10 years

is like over 2,900.

Like I really play well after a loss,

even though it’s really, really unpleasant.

So apparently like I don’t think the way

that I dealt with them is particularly healthy,

but it’s worked.

It’s worked so far.

But then you’ve discovered now a love for winning

to where ultimately longevity wise creates more fun.

Yeah, for sure.

What’s the perfect day in the life of Magnus Carlsen

on a day of a big chess match?

It doesn’t have to be world championship,

but if it’s a chess match you care about,

what time do you wake up?

What do you eat?

Oh, it depends on when the game is,

but let’s say the game is at three,

I’ll probably wake up pretty late at about 11.

Then I’ll go for a walk,

might listen to some podcasts.

Maybe I’ll spend a little bit of time

looking at some NBA game from last night or whatever.

So not chess related stuff?

No, no, no, no.

Then I’ll get back, I’ll have a big lunch,

like usually like a big omelet

with a bunch of salad and stuff.

Then go to the game, win like a very nice clean game.

Perfect day.

Just go back after, relax.

Like the things that make me the happiest at tournaments

is just having a good routine and feeling well.

I don’t like it when too much is happening around me.

So the tournament that I came from now was

the Chess Olympiad, which is the team event.

So we were a team Norway.

We did horribly.

I did okay, but the team in general did horribly.

You won that Italy?

No, no, Italy beat us, but Uzbekistan won in the end.

They were this amazing team of young players.

It was really impressive.

But the thing is like we had a good comradery in the team.

We had our meals together.

We played a bit of football, went swimming,

and I couldn’t understand why things went wrong.

And I still don’t understand.

But the thing is for me, it was all very nice,

but now I’m so happy to be on my own at a tournament

just to have my own routines, not see too many people.

Otherwise just have like a very small team of people

that I see.

You are a kind of celebrity now.

So people within the chess tournament and outside

would recognize you, want to socialize,

want to tell you about how much you mean to them,

how much you inspire them, all that kind of stuff.

Does that get in the way for you

when you’re like trying to really focus on the match?

Are you able to block that?

Like are you able to enjoy those little interactions

and still keep your focus?

Yeah, most of the time that’s fine

as long as it’s not too much.

But I have to admit, when I’m at home in Norway,

I rarely go out without big headphones and something.

Oh, like a disguise?

No, not a disguise, just to block out the world.



Don’t make eye contact?

Yeah, no, so the thing is people in general are nice.

I mean, people, they wish me well,

and they don’t bother me.

Also, when I have the headphones on,

I don’t notice as much people turning around and all of that

so I can be more of in my own world.

So I like that.

Yeah, what about in this perfect day after the game?

Do you try to analyze what happened?

Do you try to think through systematically

or do you just kind of loosely think about like…

No, I just loosely think about it.

I’ve never been very structured in that sense.

I know that it was always recommended

that you analyze your own games,

but I generally felt that I mostly had a good idea

about that.

Like nowadays, I will loosely see what the engine says

at a certain point if I’m curious about that.

Otherwise, I usually move on to the next.

What about diet?

You said omelet and salad and so on.

I heard in your conversation with the other Magnus,

Magnus number two, about you had like this bet about meat.

One of you are gonna go vegan if you lose,

I forget which bet.

Vegetarian though.

Vegetarian, sorry.

And you both have an admiration for meat.

Is there some aspect about optimal performance

that you look for in food?

Like maybe eating only like once or twice a day

or a particular kind of food,

like meat heavy diet.

Is there anything like that?

Or are you just trying to have fun with the food?

I think whenever I’m at tournaments,

like it’s very natural to eat,

at least for me to eat only twice a day.

So usually I do that when I’m at home as well.

So you do eat before the tournament though.

You don’t play fasted.

No, no, no, no.

But I try not to eat too heavy before the game

or in general to avoid sugary stuff

to have a pretty stable blood sugar level.

Cause that’s the easiest way to make mistake

that your energy levels just suddenly drop

and they don’t necessarily need to be too high

as long as they’re pretty stable, yeah.

Have you ever tried playing fasted,

like intermittent fasting?

So playing without having eaten.

I mean, the reason I ask, you know,

especially when you do a low carb diet,

when I’ve done a person at low carb diet,

I’m able to fast for a long time,

like eat once a day, maybe twice a day.

But I just, the mind is most focused

on like really difficult thinking tasks when it’s fasted.

It’s an interesting,

and a lot of people kind of talk about that.

Yeah, but you’re able to kind of like zoom in

and if you’re doing a low carb diet,

you don’t have the energy stable.

You know, that is true.

Maybe that will be interesting to try.

So what’s happened for me,

I played a few tournaments where I’ve had food poisoning

and then that generally means

that you’re both sleep deprived and you have no energy.

And what I’ve found is that it makes me,

it makes me very calm, of course,

because I don’t have the energy

and it makes me super creative.


Sleep deprived probably I think in general

makes you creative.

Just the first thing that goes away

is the ability to do the simple things.

That’s what it affects you the most.

Like you cannot be precise.

So that’s the only thing I’m worried about.

Like if I’m fasted that I won’t be precise when I play.

But you might be more creative.

It’s an interesting trial.

Fasted, yeah, potentially.

What about you have been known to

on a rare occasion play drunk.

Is there a mathematical formula

for sort of on the X axis how many drinks you had

and on the Y axis your performance slash creativity?

Is there like an optimal for,

like one of the,

would you suggest for the FIDE World Championship

that people would be required to drink?

Would that change things in interesting ways?

Yeah, not at all.

Maybe for rapid, but for Blitz,

think if you’re playing Blitz,

you’re mostly playing on short calculation and intuition.

And I think those are probably enhanced

if you’ve had a little bit of, a little bit to drink.

Can you explain the physiology of why that’s,

why it’s enhanced or the?

You’re just, you’re thinking less.

You’re more confident.

Oh yeah, it’s confidence.

I think it’s just confidence.

I think also like a lot of people feel like they’re better

at speaking languages, for instance,

if they’ve drunk a little bit,

it’s just like removing these barriers.

I think that it’s a little bit of the same in chess.

In 2012, I played the World Blitz Championship.

And then I was doing horribly for a long time.

I also had food poisoning there.

I couldn’t play at all for three days.

So before the last break,

I was like in the middle of the pack, like in,

I don’t know, 20th place or something.

And so I decided like, as the last, last gasp,

I’m going to go to the mini bar and just have a few drinks.

And what happened is that I came back

and I was suddenly relaxed and I was playing fast

and I was playing confidence.

And I thought I was playing so well.

I wasn’t playing nearly as well as I thought,

but it still helped me.

Like I won my remaining eight games.

And if there had been one more round,

I probably would have won the whole thing.

But finally I was second.

So generally I wouldn’t recommend that,

but maybe as the last resort sometimes,

like if you feel that you have the ability,

like obviously none of this is remotely relevant

if you don’t feel like you have the ability to begin with.

But if you feel like you have the ability,

there are just factors that make it impossible

for you to show it.

Like numbing your mind a bit can probably be a good thing.

Yeah, well, it’s interesting, especially during training,

you have all kinds of sports that have interacted

with a lot of athletes and grappling sports.

It’s different when you train under extreme exhaustion.

For example, you start becoming,

you start to discover interesting things.

You start being more creative.

A lot of people, at least in Brazilian jiu jitsu,

they’ll smoke weed.

It creates this kind of anxiety and relaxation

that kind of enables that creative aspect.

It’s interesting for training.

Of course you can’t rely on any one of those things too much,

but it’s cool to throw in like a few drinks

every once in a while to, yeah.

One, first of all, to relax and have fun.

And two, to kind of try things differently,

to unlock a different part of your brain.

Yeah, for sure.

What about supplements?

Do you, are you a coffee guy?

Oh no.

I quite like the taste of coffee.

But the thing is I’ve never had a job.

So I’ve never needed to wake up early.

So my thought is basically that if I’m tired, I’m tired.

That’s fine.

Then I’ll, you know, then I’ll work it out.

So I don’t wanna ever make my brain get used to coffee.

Like if you see me drinking coffee,

that’s, that probably means that I’m massively,

massively hungover and I don’t,

I just want to try anything to make my brain work.

Yeah, that’s interesting.

But for a lot of people, like you said, taste of coffee,

for a lot of people coffee is part

of a certain kind of ritual.

Yeah, for sure.

That they enjoy, you know.

So, but you can have rituals without that.

I know that I would enjoy it a lot.

Yeah, just you don’t wanna rely on it.


I also like the taste, so there’s no problem there.

What about exercise?

So how does that, what like, what, you know,

a lot of people talk about the extreme

stress that chest puts in your body,

physically and mentally.

How do you prepare for that, to be physically and mentally?

Is it just through playing chess,

or do you do cardio and any of that kind of stuff?

This is kind of it up and down.

Like, as I said in 2013, I was in, I was in great shape.

Like, I mean, generally I was exercising,

doing sports every day, either playing football

or tennis or even other, other sports.

Otherwise, if I couldn’t do that,

I would try and take my bike for a ride.

I had a few training camps and I played tennis

against one of my seconds.

Like, he’s not a super fit guy,

but he’s always been very good at tennis.

And I never like played in any organized way.

And that was like, that was the perfect exercise

because I was running around enough

to make the games pretty competitive.

And it meant that he had to run a bit less as well.

But he was just, he said like,

he was shocked that if we played like for two hours,

I wouldn’t flinch at all.


So like a combination of fun

and the differential between skill

result in good cardio.

Yeah, but it’s just that, so in those days I was pretty,

I was pretty fit in that sense.

I’ve always liked doing sports, but at times, you know,

I think in winter, especially,

like I never had like a schedule.

So at times I’ll let myself go a little bit.

And I’ve always kind of done it more for fun

than like for a concrete benefit.

But now I’m at least after the pandemic,

I was not in great shape.

So now I’m trying to get back, get better,

get better habits and so on.

But I feel like I’ve always been the poster boy

for making being fit a big thing in chess.

And I always felt that it was not really a deserve

because I never liked doing weights much at all.

I run a bit at times, but I never liked it too much.

You just love playing sports.

I just love playing sports.

So that I think people confuse that

because I’m not like massively athletic,

but I do, I am decent at sports

and that sort of helped build that perception.

Even though others who are top level chess players,

they’re more fit like Karana, for instance,

he’s really, really, his body is really, really strong.

It’s just that he doesn’t.

He like goes to the gym and.

Yeah, if he doesn’t play sports, that’s the difference.

And the thing about sports is also is just,

it’s an escape.

It helps you forget for a brief moment

about like the obsessions, the pursuits of the main thing,

which is chess.

Yeah, for sure.

And I think it’s, it also helps your main pursuit

to feel that you’re even if not mastering,

but like doing well in something, in something else.

Like I found that if I just juggle a ball,

that makes me feel better before a game.

So a skilled activity.

Juggle of football, yeah.

Yeah, skilled activity that you can improve on over time.

It like flexes the same kind of muscle,

but on the thing that you’re much worse at.


It focuses you, relaxes you, that’s really interesting.

What’s the perfect day in the life of Magnus Carlsen

when he’s training?

So like, what’s a good training regimen

in terms of, you know, daily kind of training

that you have to put in across many days, months, and years

to just keep yourself sharp in terms of chess?

I would say when I’m at home, I do very little

deliberate practice.

I’ve never been that guy at all.

Like I could never force myself to just sit down and work.

So deliberate practice, just so maybe you can educate me,

for some grandmasters, what would that look like?

Just doing puzzles kind of thing?

Or like?

Yeah, doing puzzles and opening analysis.

That would be the main things.

Studying games?

Just studying games, yeah, a little bit.

But I feel like that’s something that I do.

But it’s not deliberate, it’s like reading an article

or reading a book.

Got it.

Like I love chess books, I’ll read just anything

and I’ll find something interesting.

So chess books that are like on openings

and stuff like that, or chess books

that go over different games?

Yeah, books on, so there are three main categories.

There are books on openings and there are books

on strategy and there are books on chess history

and I find all of them very, very interesting.

Like what fraction of the day would you say

you have a chess board floating somewhere in your head?

Meaning like you’re thinking about it.

Probably be a better question to ask,

how many hours a day I don’t have a chess board floating.


I mean it could be just floating there and nothing’s

happening, but like.

I often do it parallel to some other activity though.

And what does that look like?

Like are you daydreaming like different,

is it actual positions you’re just fucking around with?

Like fumbling with different pieces in your head?

Often I’ve looked at a random game on my phone for instance

or in a book and then my brain just keeps going

at the same position analyzing it and often it goes

all the way to the end game.

And those are actual games or you conjure up like fake games?

No, they were often based on real games

and then I’m thinking like oh, but it wouldn’t be

more interesting if the pieces were a little bit different

and then often I play it out from there.

So you don’t have, like you don’t sit behind a computer

or a chess board and you lay out the pieces and then you’re.

No, I’m not at all a poster boy for deliberate practice.

I could never, I could never work that way.

My first coach, he gave me some exercises

that are at home sometimes, but he realized at some point

that wasn’t gonna work.


Because I wouldn’t do it really or enjoy it.

So what he would do instead is that at the school

where I had the trainings with him,

there was this massive chess library.

So he was just like yeah, pick out books.

You can have anything, you can have anything you want.

Just pick out books you like

and then you give it back the next time.

So that’s what I did instead.

Yeah, I just absolutely raided the,

then my next tournament I will try out one of the openings

from that book if it was an opening book and so on.

Does it feel like a struggle, like challenging?

Like to be thinking those positions

or is it fun and relaxing?

No, it’s completely fine.

I don’t.

Like if it’s a difficult position to figure out,

you know, like to calculate.

Then I go on to something else.


Like if I can’t figure it out, then you know, I go on.

Change it so that it’s easier to figure out.

There was a point in your life

where Kasparov was interested in being your coach

or at least training with you.

Why did you choose not to go with him?

That’s a pretty bold move.

Was there a good reason for this?

No, the first like homework exercise he gave me

was to analyze, like he picked out, I think,

three or four of my worst losses

and he wanted me to analyze them and give him my thoughts.

And it wasn’t that there were painful losses or anything

that that was a problem.

I just didn’t really enjoy that.

Also, I felt that this whole structured approach

and everything.


I just felt like from the start, it was a hassle.

So I loved the idea of being able to pick his brain

but everything else, I just, you know,

couldn’t see myself, couldn’t see myself enjoying.

And at the end of the day,

I did then and always have played for fun.

That’s always been the main reason, so.

It’s great that you had the confidence

to sort of basically turn down the approach

of one of the greatest chess players of all time.

At that time, probably the greatest chess player

of all time.

I don’t think I thought of it that way.

I just thought this is not for me.

I wouldn’t try another way.

I don’t think I was particularly thinking

that this is my one opportunity or anything.

It was just, yeah, I don’t enjoy this.

Let’s try something else.

When you were 13, you faced Kasparov

and he wasn’t able to beat you.

Can you go through that match?

What did that feel like?

How important was that?

Was that, how epic was that?

We played three games.

I lost two and I drew one.

Right, but one draw.

No, the one draw.

And but didn’t you say

that you kind of had a better position in that?

Yeah, I remember that day very well.

There was a Blitz game.

This was a rapid tournament

and there was a Blitz tournament the day before

which determined the pairings for the rapid.

For people who don’t know,

super short games are called bullet.

Kind of short games are called Blitz.

Semi short games are called rapid.


And classic chess, I guess, is like very super long.


Yeah, basically, bullet is just never played

over the board.

So in terms of over the board chess,

Blitz is the shortest.

Rapid is like a hybrid between classical and Blitz.

You need to have the skills to both

and then classical is long.

The Blitz tournament, which didn’t go so well.

Like I got a couple of wins,

but I was beaten badly in a lot of games,

including by Gary.

And so there was the pairing that I had to play him

which was pretty exciting.

So I remember I was so tired after the Blitz tournament.

Like I slept for 12 hours or something.

Then I woke up like,

okay, I’ll turn on my computer.

I’ll search chess space for Kasparov

and we’ll go from there.

So before that, I hadn’t spent like a lot of time

specifically studying his games.

It was super intimidating

because a lot of these openings I knew.

I was like, oh, he was the first one to play that.

Oh, that was his idea.

I actually didn’t know that.

So I was a bit intimidated before we played.

Then of course the first game,

he arrived a bit late because they changed the time

from the first day to the other, which was a bit strange.

But everybody else had noticed it but him.

Then he tried to surprise me in the opening.

I think like psychologically,

the situation was not so easy for him.

Like clearly it would be embarrassing for him

if he didn’t win both games against me.

Then like I was spending way too much time on my moves

because I was playing Kasparov.

I was double checking everything too much.

Like normally I would be playing pretty fast in those days.

And then at some point I calculated better than him.

He missed a crucial detail and had a much better position.

I couldn’t convert it though.

I knew what line I had to go for

in order to have a chance to win.

But I thought like, I’ll play a bit more carefully.

Maybe I can win still.

I couldn’t.

And then I lost the second game pretty badly,

which it wasn’t majorly upsetting,

but I felt that I had two black games

against Kasparov both in the blitz and the rapid

and I lost both of them without any fight whatsoever.

I wasn’t happy about that at all.

That was like less than I thought I could be able to do.

So to me, yeah, I was proud of that, but it was a gimmick.

That was like a very strong IAM that had GM strength.

I was like, it can happen that a player of that strength

makes a draw against Gary once in a while.

But I mean, I understand that I’m 13,

but like still I felt a bit more gimmicky than anything.

I mean, I guess it’s a good thing that made me noticed,

but apart from that, it wasn’t.

And for people who don’t know,

IAM is international master and GM is grand master.

And you were just on the, I guess,

on the verge of becoming a youngest grand master ever.

I was the second youngest ever.

I think I’m like the seventh youngest now.

I mean, these kids these days.

Kids these days.


Yeah, but I was the youngest grand master at the time

in the world.


So there is a, you say it’s gimmicky,

but there’s a romantic notions,

especially as things have turned out, right?

No, for sure.

And have you talked to Gary since then about that?

No, not really.

I think he’s immersed.

He’s still bitter, you think?

No, I don’t think he’s bitter,

but I think the game in itself was a bit embarrassing for him.

Even he can’t see past like…

No, no, no.

I think he’s completely fine with that.

I think like in retrospect, it’s a good story.

He appreciates that.

I don’t think that’s the problem,

but it never made sense for me to broach the subject with him.

Yeah, it’s funny just having interacted with Gary,

now having talked to you,

there is a little thing you still hate losing.

No matter how beautiful like that moment is,

because it’s like, in a way it’s a passing of the baton

from like one great champion to another, right?

But you still just don’t like the fact

that you didn’t play a good game from Gary’s perspective.

Like he still is just annoyed probably

that he could have played better.

And we did, so we did work together in 2009, quite a lot.

And that corporation ended early 2010,

but we did play a lot of training games in 2009,

which was interesting because he was still very, very strong.

And at that time it was fairly equal.

Like he was out playing me quite a bit,

but I was fighting well, so it was pretty even then.

So I mean, I appreciate those games a lot more

than some random game from when I was 13.

And maybe I just don’t know what I’m talking about,

but I’ve always found it, at least based on that game,

you couldn’t tell that I was gonna take his,

that I was gonna take his spot.

Like I made a horrible blunder and lost to an Uzbek kid

in the World Rapid Championship in 2018.

And I mean, granted he was part of the team

that now won gold in the Chess Olympia,

but he wasn’t the crucial part.

He barely played any games.

Like it wasn’t like I would think

that he would become world champion because he beat me.

I’m always skeptical of those who said

that they knew that I was gonna be world champion

after that game or at all at that time.

I mean, it was easy to see

that I would become a very, very strong player.

Everybody could see that,

but to be the best in the world or one of the best ever,

that’s hard to say.

It is hard to say, but I do remember seeing Messi

when he was 16 and 17.

But hasn’t that happened with other players though?

Yeah, but I just had a personal experience.

He did look different than, there’s like magic there.

Maybe you can’t tell he would be one of the greatest ever,

but there’s still magic.

But you’re right.

Most of the time we try to project,

we see a young kid being an older person

and you start to think,

okay, this could be the next great person.

Then we forget when they don’t become that.

Yeah, exactly.

That’s I think what happens.

But when it does become.

Or maybe some people are just so good

at seeing these patterns that they can actually see.

Aren’t you supposed to do that kind of thing

with fantasy football, like see the long shot

and bet on them and then they turn out to be good?

That’s the whole point.

No, you make a lot of long shot bets

and then some of them come good.

And then people call you a genius for making the bet.

Well, let me ask you the goat question again,

from fantasy perspective.

Can you make the case for the greatest chess player

of all time for each yourself, Magnus Carlsen,

for Garry Kasparov, I don’t know who else,

Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Atal, anyone else,

for Hikaru Nakamura?

Just kidding.

Yeah, I think I can make a case for myself,

for Garry and for Fischer.

So I’ll start with Fischer.

For him, it’s very, very simple.

He was ahead of his time, but that’s like intangible.

You can say that about a lot of people.

But he had a peak from 1970 to 72

when he was so much better than the others.

He won 20 games in a row.

Also the way that he played was so powerful

and with so few mistakes

that he just had no opposition there.

So he had just a peak that’s been better than anybody.

The gap between first and second was the highest.

The gap between him and others was greater

than it’s ever been in history at any other time.

And that would be the argument for him.

For Garry, he’s played in a very competitive era

and he’s beaten several generations.

He was the best, well, he was the consensus best player,

I would say for almost 20 years,

which nobody else has done at least in recent time.

So the longevity.

The longevity for sure.

Also at his peak, he was not quite the level of Fisher

in terms of the gap, but it was similar to,

or I think even a little bit better than mine.

As for me, I’m of course unbeaten

as a world champion in five tries.

I’ve been world number one for 11 years straight

in an even more competitive era than Garry.

I have the highest chest rating of all time.

I have the longest streak ever without losing a game.

I think for me, the main argument would be about the era

where the engines have leveled the playing field so much

that it’s harder to dominate.

And still, I haven’t always been a clear number one,

but I’ve been number one for 11 years.

And for a lot of the time, the gap has been pretty big.

So I think there are decent arguments for all of them.

I’ve said before, and I haven’t changed my mind

that Garry generally edges it

because of the longevity in the competitive era,

but there are arguments.

But people also talk about you

in terms of the style of play.

So it’s not just about dominance or the height or the,

it’s like just the creative genius of it.

Yeah, but I’m not interested in that.

In terms of greatest of all time,

I’m not interested in questions of style.

So for Messi, you don’t give credit for the style,

for the stylistic.

I like, no, I like watching it, I just.

But you’re not gonna give points for the,

so Messi gets the best ever because of the finishing.

Yeah, it’s the, no, it’s not because of the finishing,

it’s because of his overall impact on the game.

It’s higher than anybody else’s.


He contributes, he just contributes more to winning

than anybody else does.

What’s, so you’re somebody who was advocated for

and has done quite a bit of study of classic games.

What would you say is, I mean, maybe the number one

or maybe top three games of chess ever played?

That doesn’t interest me at all.

You don’t think of them, that was very curious.

No, I don’t think of it.

I mean, I try to, I find the games interesting.

I try to learn from them, but like trying to rank them

has never interested me.

What games pop out to you as like super interesting then?

Is there things like where idea, like old school games

where there was like interesting ideas that you go back,

that you go back or like you find surprising

and pretty cool that those ideas are developed like that?

Is there something that jumps to mind?

Yeah, there are several games of young Kasparov,

like before he became world champion.

If you’re gonna ask for like my favorite player

or favorite style, that’s probably.

Young Kasparov.

Can you describe stylistically or in any other way

what young Kasparov was like that you like?

It was just an overflow energy in his play.

So aggressive.

Yeah, extremely aggressive, dynamic chess.

It probably appeals to me a lot because these are the things

that I cannot do as well,

that it just feels very special to me.

But yeah, in terms of games,

I never thought about that too much.

Is there memories, big or small, weird, surprising,

just any kind of beautiful anecdote from your chess career?

Like stuff that pops out that people might not know about?

Just stuff when you look back, it just makes you smile.

No, so I’ll tell you about the most satisfying

tournament victory of my career.

So that was the Norwegian championship under 11 in 2000.

Before that tournament, I was super anxious

because I started like kind of late at chess.

I played my first tournament when I was eight and a half.

And a lot of my competitors had already played

for a couple of years or even three, four years

at that point.

And the first time I,

so I played the under 11 championship in 99.

I was like a little over the middle of the pack.

I’d never played against any of them before.

So I didn’t know what to expect at all.

And then over the next year,

I was just like edging a little bit closer.

In each tournament, I felt like I was getting

a little bit better.

And when we had the championship,

I knew that I was ready,

that I was now at the same level of the best players.

I was so anxious to show it.

I remember I was just,

the feeling of excitement and nervousness

before the tournament was incredible.

The tournament was weird because I started out,

I gave away a draw to a weaker player,

whom I shouldn’t have drawn to.

And then I drew against the other guy

who was clearly like the best or second best.

And at that point, I thought it was over

because I thought he wouldn’t give away points to others.

And then the very next day he lost to somebody.

So then the rest of the tournament,

it was just like,

I was always like playing my game and watching his.

And we both won the rest of our games,

but it meant that I was half a point ahead.

Like the feeling when I realized that I was gonna win,

that was just so amazing.

It was like the first time that I was the best at my age.

And at that point.

You were hooked.

Yeah, at that point I realized,

I could actually be very good at this.

So you kind of saw,

what did you think your ceiling would be?

Did you see that one day you could be the number one?

No, I didn’t think that was possible at all.


When did you first?

I could be the best in Norway.

The best in Norway?

At that point.

When did you first?

Because like I started relatively late.

Right, so yeah.

And also like,

I knew that I studied a lot more than the others.

I knew that I had a passion that they didn’t have.

They saw chess as something like,

it was a hobby.

It was like an activity.

It was like going to football practice

or any other sports.

Like you go,

you practice like once or twice a week,

and then you play a tournament at the weekend.

That’s what you did.

For me, it wasn’t like that.

Like I would go with my books and my board

every day after school.

And I would just constantly

be trying to learn new things.

I had like two hours of internet time

on the computer each week.

And I would always spend them on chess.

Like I think before I was 13 or 14,

I’d never opened a browser

for any other reason than to play chess.

Would you describe that as love or as obsession

or something in between?

It’s everything?

Yeah, everything.

Yeah, everything, so I mean,

it wasn’t hard for me to tell at that point

that I had something that the other kids didn’t

because I was never the one to grasp something

very, very quickly.

But once I started, I always got hooked

and then I never stopped learning.

What would you say,

you’ve talked about the middle game

as a place where you can play pure chess.

What do you think is beautiful to you about chess?

Like the thing when you were 11.

What is beautiful to me is when your opponent

can predict every single one of your moves

and they still lose.

How does that happen?

No, like it means that at some point early,

your planning, your evaluation has been better.

So that you play just very simply, very clearly.

It looks like you did nothing special

and your opponent lost without a chance.

So you’re, how do you think about that?

By the way, are you basically narrowed down

this gigantic tree of options

to where your opponent has less and less and less options

to win, to escape, and then they’re trapped.

That’s it.


Is there some aspect to the patterns themselves,

to the positions, to the elegance of like

the dynamics of the game that you just find beautiful

that doesn’t, that where you forget about the opponent?

General, I try and create harmony on the board.

Like what I would usually find harmonious is that

the pieces work together, that they protect each other

and that there are no pieces that are suboptimally placed.

Or if they are suboptimally placed,

they can be improved pretty easily.

Like I hate when I have one piece that I know

is badly placed and I can’t improve it.

When, yeah, when you’re thinking about the harmony

of the pieces, when you’re looking at the position,

you’re evaluating it, are you looking at the whole board

or is it like a bunch of groupings of pieces overlapping?

I would like dancing together kind of thing.

I would say it’s more of the latter

that would be more precise that you look.

I mean, I look mostly closer to the middle,

but then I would focus on one,

like there are usually like one grouping of pieces

on one side and then some more closer to the other side.

So I would think of it a little bit that way.

So, and everything’s kind of gravitating to the middle.

If it’s going well, then yes.

And in harmony.

Yeah, in harmony.

Or like if you can control the middle,

you can more easily attack on both sides.

That applies to pretty much any game.

It’s as simple as that.

And like attacking on one side without control of the middle

would feel very nonharmonious for me.

Like I talked about the 10th game

in the World Championship.

Like that’s the time I was the most nervous.

And it was because it was the kind of attack that I hate

where you just have to, you’re abandoned one side

and the attack has to work.

There was one side and part of the middle as well,

which I didn’t control at all.

And that’s like the opposite of harmony for me.

What advice would you give to chess players

of different levels, how to improve in chess?

Very beginner, complete beginner.

I mean, at every level, is there something you can say?

It’s very hard for me to say.

Because I mean, the easiest way is like love chess,

be obsessed.

Well, that’s a really important statement.

But that doesn’t work for everybody.

So I feel like it can feel like a grind.

So you’re saying the less it can feel like a grind,

the better, at least for you.

That’s for sure.

But I’m also very, very skeptical about giving advice

because I think, again, my way only works

if you have some combination of talent and obsession.

So I’m not sure that I’d generally recommend it.

Like what I’ve done doesn’t go with

what most coaches suggest for their kids.

I’ve been lucky that I’ve had coaches from early on

that have been very, very hands off

and just allowed me to do my thing, basically.

Well, there’s a lot to be said

about cultivating the obsession.

Like really letting that flourish

to where you spend a lot of hours

like with the chessboard in your head

and it doesn’t feel like a struggle.

No, so like just letting me do my thing.

Like if you give me a bunch of work,

it will probably feel like a chore.

And if you don’t give me,

I will spend all of that time on my own

without thinking that it’s work

or without thought that I’m doing this to improve my chess.

Well, in terms of learning stuff, like books,

there’s one thing that’s relatively novel

from your perspective that people are starting now

is there’s YouTube.

There’s a lot of good YouTubers.

You’re a part time YouTuber.

You have stuff on YouTube, I guess.

Yeah, I have, but if you’ve seen my YouTube,

it’s mostly like, it’s carefree.

It’s generally not high effort content.

Yeah, but do you like any particular YouTubers?

I could just recommend like stuff I’ve seen.

So Aged Madar, Gotham Chess, Botez Live.

I really like St. Louis Chess Club,

Daniel Narodetsky, and John Bartholomew.

Those are good channels,

but is there something you can recommend?

No, all of them are good.

You know, the best recommendation I could give

is Aged Madar, purely.

How much did he pay you to say that?

No, so the thing about that is that I haven’t really,

I have, so I can tell you I’ve never watched

any of his videos from start to finish.

I’m not like, I’m not the target audience, obviously.

But I think the only chess YouTube video

that my dad has ever watched from start to finish

is Aged Madar, and he said, like,

I watched one of his videos,

I wanted to know what it was all about,

because I think Aged Madar is like the same strength

as my father, or maybe just a little bit weaker,

like 1900 or something.

My father is probably about 2000.

And my father has played chess his whole life.

He loves, he absolutely loves the game.

It was like, that’s the only time he’s actually sat through

one of those videos, and he said, like,

yeah, I get it, I enjoy it.

So that’s the best recommendation I could give.

That’s the only channel that my father actually enjoys.

This is hilarious.

I talked to him before this to ask him

if he has any questions for you.

And he said, no, just do your thing, you know.

No, he’s so careful, he wouldn’t do that.

He did mention jokingly about Evan’s Gambit, I think.

Is that a thing?

Evan’s Gambit?

It’s some weird thing he made up.

It might be an inside joke.

I don’t know, but he asked me to.

Well, anyway.

Yeah, I didn’t even get the…

It’s something he made up.

I didn’t even realize that he plays the Evan’s Gambit.

Like, he plays a lot of Gambits that are…

Wait, Evan’s Gambit is a thing?

Yeah, yeah, that’s a thing.

Like, that’s an old opening from the 1800s.

Captain Evans apparently invented it.

Why would he mention that particular one?

Yeah, I don’t know.

Is there something hilarious about that one?

I don’t know.

I don’t think I’ve ever faced the Evan’s Gambit in a game.

I feel like both of you are trolling me right now.

But I mean, he’s played a lot of other Gambits.

Maybe this is the one he wanted to mention.

So this, maybe this is called the Evan’s Gambit as well.

But I just know it as like the 2G4 Gambit.

Maybe this is the one.

Like this one, he has played a bunch.

And he’s been telling me a lot about his games

in this line.

It’s like, oh, it’s not so bad.

And I’m like, yeah, but you’re a pawn down.

Yeah, but I can sort of see it.

I can sort of understand it.

And he’s like, he’s proud of the fact

that nobody like told him to play this line or anything.

He came up with it himself.

And there’s this, I’ll tell you another story

about my father.

So there’s this line that I call,

that I called the Henry Carlson line.

So at some point, you know,

he never knew a lot of openings in chess,

but I taught him a couple of openings as black.

It’s the, it’s the Sveshnikov’s Sicilian

that I played a lot myself also

during the world championship in 2018.

I won a bunch of games in 2019 as well.

So that’s one opening.

And I also taught him as black

to play the Rogozin defense.

And then, so the Rogozin defense goes like,

goes like this.

It’s characterized by this bishop move.

And so he would play those openings pretty,

pretty exclusively as black

in the tournaments that he did play.

And also the Sveshnikov Sicilian is like,

that’s the only, two of my sisters play,

have played a bunch of chess tournaments as well.

And that’s the only opening they know as well.

So my family’s portrait is very narrow.

So, so this is the, this is the system.

Black goes here and then we all from white takes the pawn

and black takes the pawn.

So at some point I was watching one of my,

my father’s online blitz game, blitz game.

And as white, he played this, this.

So this is called the Karkhan defense.

He took the pawn.

It was taken back, then he went with the knight.

His opponent went here and then he played a bishop here.

So I, I’d never seen this opening before.

And I was like, wow, how on earth did he come up with that?

And he said, no, I just played the Rogozin

with the different colors

because if the knight was here,

it would be the same position.

I was like, I never, I was like,

how, how am I like one of the best players in the world?

And I’ve never thought about that.

So I actually started playing,

I started playing this line as white

with pretty decent result and then results.

And it actually became kind of popular

and everybody who asked about the line,

it’s like, I would always tell them,

yeah, that’s the Henry Carlson.

I wouldn’t necessarily explain why it was called that.

I would just always call it that.

So I really hope at this point, at some point,

this line will be, will find its rightful name.

In the, yeah, finds its way into the history books.

Can you, what, what, what’d you learn about life

from your dad?

What role has your dad played in your life?

He’s taught me a lot of things, but most of all,

as long as you win a chess, then everything else is fine.

I think my, especially my father,

but my parents in general, they,

they always wanted me to get a good education

and find a job and so on.

Even though my father loves chess

and he wanted me to play chess,

I don’t think he had any plans for me to be professional.

I think things changed at some point.

Like I was less and less interested in school

and for a long time, we were kind of going back and forth,

fighting about that, especially my father,

but also my mother a little bit.

It was at times a little bit difficult.

They wanted you to go to school.

Yeah, they sort of wanted me to do more school

to have more options.

And then I think at some point,

they just gave up, but I think that sort of coincided

when I was actually starting to make real money

off tournaments.

And after that, you know, everything’s been sort of easy

and like terms of the family,

like they’ve never put any pressure on me

or they’ve never put any demands on me.

There’s just, yeah, my ass has to focus on chess.

That’s that, that’s the thing.

That’s, that’s, that’s it.

Like, I think they taught me in general

to be curious about the world

and to get a decent general education,

not necessarily from school,

but like just knowing about the world around you

and knowing history and being, you know,

just being interested in society.

I think in that sense, they’ve done well.

And he’s been with you throughout your chess career.

I mean, there’s something to be said about just family,

support and love that you have that, you know,

this world is a lonely place.

It’s good to have people around you that are like,

yeah, they got your back kind of, you know?


It’s a cliche, but I think to some extent,

all the people you surround yourself with,

they can help you a lot.

It’s only family that only has their own interests at heart.

And so for that reason, like my father’s like the only one

that’s been like constantly in the team

that he’s always been around.

And it’s for that reason that I know he has my back,

no matter what.

Now there’s a cliche question here,

but let’s try to actually get to some deep truth perhaps.

But people who don’t know much about chess

seem to like to use chess as a metaphor

for everything in life.

But there is some aspect to the decision making

to the kind of reasoning involved in chess

that’s transferable to other things.

Can you speak to that in your own life and in general?

Like the kind of reasoning involved with chess,

how much does that transfer to life out there?

It just helps you make decisions.

Of all kinds.

Yeah, that would be my main takeaway.

That you learn to make informed guesses

in a limited amount of time.

I mean, does it frustrate you when you have

geopolitical thinkers and leaders?

You know, Henry Kissinger will often talk about

geopolitics as a game of chess or 3D chess.

Is that too oversimplified of a projection?

Or do you think that the kind of deliberations

you have on the world stage is similar

to the kind of decision making you have on the chessboard?

Well, I’m never trying to get reelected

when I play a game of chess.

There’s no special interest, you have to get happy.

Yeah, that kind of helps.

No, I can understand that.

Obviously, for every action, there’s a reaction

and you have to calculate far ahead.

It probably would be a good thing

if more big players on the international scene

thought a little bit more like a chess player in that sense,

like trying to make good decision

based on limited amount of data,

rather than thinking about other factors,

but it’s so tough.

But it does annoy me when people make moves

that they know are wrong for different reasons.

And they should know, if they did some calculation,

they should know they’re wrong.

Yeah, exactly, that they should know that are wrong.

And so much politics is like,

it’s, you’re often asked to do something

when it would be much better to do nothing.

Like, no, but that happens in chess all the time,

like you have a choice.

Like I often tell people that in certain situations,

you should not try and win,

you should just let your opponent lose.

And that happens in politics all the time.

But yeah, just let your opponents

continue whatever they’re doing,

and then you’ll win.

Don’t try to do something just to do something.

Often, they say in chess that having a bad plan

is better than having no plan.

It’s absolute nonsense.

I forget what General said it,

but it was like, don’t interrupt your enemy

when they’re making a mistake.

I think they’re…

Also, Petrosian, the former world champion said,

when your opponent wants to play Dutch defense,

don’t stop them.

I mean, chess players will know that it’s the same thing.

Actually, this reminds me,

is there something you found really impressive

about Queen’s Gambit, the TV show?

You know, that’s one of the things that really captivated

the public imagination about chess.

People who don’t play chess became very curious

about the game, about the beauty of the game,

the drama of the game, all that kind of stuff.

Is there, in terms of accuracy,

in terms of the actual games played,

that you found impressive?

First of all, they did the chess well,

they did it accurately.

And also, they found actual games and positions

that I’d never seen before.

And it really captivated me.

Like, I would not follow the story at times.

I was just trying to, wow,

where the hell did I find that game?

Just trying to solve the positions.

So, Beth Harmon, the main character,

were you impressed by the play she was doing in the,

like, was there a particular style

that they developed consistently?

She was just, at the end, she was just totally universal.

Like, at the start, she was probably a bit too aggressive,

but no, she was absolutely universal.

Wait, what adjective are you using?

Universal in the sense that she could play in any style.

Oh, interesting.

And was dominant in that way.

So, wow, there was a development in style too

throughout the show.

Yeah, for sure.

It’s really interesting they did that.


And it actually happened with me a bit as well.

Like, I started out really aggressive.

Then I became probably too technical at some point,

taking a little bit too few risks

and not playing dynamic enough.

And then I started to get a little bit better at dynamics

so that now I’m,

I would say definitely the most universal player

in terms of style.

Are there any skills in chess

that are transferable to poker?

So as you’re playing around with poker a little bit now,

how fundamentally different of a game is it?

What I find the most transferable probably is

not letting past decisions dictate future thinking.


But in terms of the patterns in the betting strategies

and all that kind of stuff, what about bluffing?

I bluff way too much.

It does seem you enjoy bluffing

and Daniel Negrano was saying that you’re quite good at it.

But yeah, it has very little material to go by.

Sample size is small.


No, I mean, I enjoy bluffing

for more of the gambling aspects, the thrill of.

So not the technical aspect of the bluffing

like you would on the chessboard?

Not bluffing in the same sense, but there is some element.

But I do enjoy it on the chessboard.

Like if I know that like,

oh, I successfully scared away my opponent

from making the best move, that’s of course satisfying.

In that same way, it might be satisfying in poker, right?

That you represent something,

you scare away your opponent in the same kind of way.

And also like you tell a story,

you try and tell a story and then they believe it.

Yeah, tell a story with your betting,

with all the different other cues.

Do you like the money aspect, the betting strategies?

So it’s almost like another layer on top of it, right?

Like it’s the uncertainty in the cards,

but the betting, there’s so much freedom to the betting.

I’m not very good at that.

So I cannot say that I understand it completely.

You know, when it comes to different sizing and all that,

I just haven’t studied it enough.

How much of luck is part of poker would you say

from what you’ve seen versus skill?

I mean, it’s so different in the sense that you can be

one of the best players in the world

and lose two, three years in a row

without that being like a massive outlier.

Okay, the thing that more than one person told me

that you’re very good at is trash talking.

I don’t think I am.

A lot of people who make those observations about me,

I think they just expect very, very little.

So they expect from the best chess player in the world,

that just anything that’s non robotic is interesting.

Also, when it comes to trash talking,

like I have the biggest advantage in the world

that I’m the best at what I’m doing.

So trash talking becomes very, very, very easy

because I can back it up.


Yeah, but a lot of people that are extremely good at stuff

don’t trash talk and they’re not good at it.

I don’t think I’m very good at it.

It’s just that I can back it up,

which makes it seem that I’m better.

And also.

You’re even doing it now.

Also being non robotic or not completely robotic helps.

Yeah, yeah.

You’re not trash talking, you’re just stating facts.

That’s right.

Have you ever considered that there will be trash talking

and over the chess board and some of the big tournaments,

like adding that kind of component or even talking,

you know, would that completely distract

from the game of chess?

No, I think it could be fun in,

when people play off fan games,

when they play Blitz games,

like people trash talk all the time.

It’s a normal part of the game.

So you emphasize fun a lot.

Do you think we’re living inside of a simulation

that is trying to maximize fun?

But that’s only happened for the last 100 years or so.

No, that’s like the.

Fun has always been increasing, I think.

Yeah, okay.

It’s always been increasing,

but I feel like it’s been increasing exponentially.


I mean, or at least the importance of fun.

But I guess it depends on the society as well.

Like in the West, we’ve had such a Christian influence.

And I mean, Christianity hasn’t exactly embraced

the concept of fun over time.

Well, actually to push back,

I think forbidding certain things

kind of makes them more fun.

So sometimes I think you need to say,

you’re not allowed to do this.

And then a lot of people start doing it

and then they have fun doing that

because it’s like it’s doing a thing

in the face of the resistance of the thing.

So whenever there’s resistance,

that does somehow make it more fun.

Oppressive regimes has always kind of been

kind of good for comedy, no?

Like, no, but I heard.


Supposedly like in the Soviet Union,

I don’t know about fun,

but supposedly comedy, like at least underground,

it thrived.

Yeah, there’s a, well, no, it permeates the entire culture.

There’s a dark humor.


That sort of the cruelty, the absurdity of life

really brings out the humor amongst the populace

plus vodka on top of that.

But this idea that, for example, Elon Musk has that

the most entertaining outcome is the most likely.

That it seems like the most absurd, silly, funny thing

seems to be the thing that.

So it happens more often than it should.

And it somehow becomes viral in our modern connected world.

And so the fun stuff, the memes spread,

and then we start to optimize for the fun meme

that seems to be a fundamental property

of the reality we live in.

And so emerges the fun maximizer in all walks of life,

like in chess, in poker, in everything.

I think.

You’re not skeptical.

No, I’m not skeptical.

I’m just, I’m just taking it all in.

But I find it interesting and not at all impossible.

Do you ever get lonely?

Oh yeah, for sure.

Like a chess player’s life is by definition pretty lonely

because you have nobody else to blame but yourself

when you lose or you don’t achieve the results

that you want to achieve.

It’s difficult for you to find comfort elsewhere.

It’s in your own mind.


It’s you versus yourself, really.

Yeah, really.

But it’s, you know, it’s part of the profession.

But I think any like sport or activity

where it’s just you and your own mind

is just by definition lonely.

Are you worried that it destroys you?

Oh, not at all.

As long as I’m aware of it, then it’s fine.

And I don’t think the inherent loneliness

of my profession really affects the rest of my life

in a major way.

What role does love play in the human condition

and in your lonely life of calculation?

Well, you know, I’m like everybody else trying, you know…

Trying to find love?

No, not necessarily like trying to find love.

Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not.

I’m just trying to find my way.


And my love for the game,

obviously it comes and goes a little bit,

but there’s like, there’s always at least some level of love.

So that doesn’t go away.

But I think in other parts of life,

I think it’s just about doing things that make you happy,

that give you joy,

that also makes you more receptive to love in general.

So that has been my approach to love now

for quite a while that I’m just trying to live my best life

and then the love will come when it comes

and in terms of romantic love,

it has come and gone in my life.

It’s not there now, but I’m not worried about that.

I’m more worried about, you know, not worried,

but more like trying to just be a good version of myself.

I cannot always be the best version of myself,

but at least try to be good.

Yeah, and keep your heart open.

What is this Daniel Johnson song?

True love will find you in the end.

No, it may or may not.

But it will only find you if,

oh fuck, how does it go?

If you’re looking, so like you have to be open to it.


It may or may not.

Yeah, yeah.

And no matter what, you’re gonna lose it in the end

because it all ends, the whole thing ends.

Yeah, yeah.

I don’t think stressing over that,

like obviously it’s so human

that you can’t help it to some degree,

but I feel like stressing over love,

that’s the blueprint for whether you’re looking

or you’re not looking or you’re in a relationship

or married or anything,

like stressing over it is like the blueprint

for being unhappy.

Just to clarify confusion I have,

just a quick question.

How does the knight move?

Ha, so the knight moves in an L

and unlike in shogi it can move both forwards and backwards.

It is quite a nimble piece.

It can jump over everything,

but it’s less happy in open position

where it has to move from side to side quickly.

I am generally more of a bishops guy myself

for the old debate.

I just prefer quality over the intangibles,

but I can appreciate a good knight once in a while.

Last simple question.

What’s the meaning of life, Magnus Carlsen?

There’s obviously no meaning to life.

Is that obvious?

I think we’re here by accident.

There’s no meaning, it ends at some point,

but it’s still a great thing.


Yeah, you can still have fun even if there’s no meaning.

Yeah, you can still have fun.

You can try and pursue your goals, whatever they may be,

but I’m pretty sure there’s no special meaning

and trying to find it also doesn’t make

a whole lot of sense to me.

For me, life is both meaningless and meaningful

for just being here, trying to make,

not necessarily the most of it,

but the things that make you happy

both short term and also long term.

Yeah, it seems to be full of cool stuff to enjoy.

It certainly does.

And one of those is having a conversation with you.

Magnus, it’s a huge honor to talk to you.

Thank you so much for spending this time with me.

I can’t wait to see what you do in this world

and thank you for creating so much elegance and beauty

on the chessboard and beyond.

So thanks for talking today, brother.

Thank you so much.

Thanks for having me.

And I wanted to say this at the start,

but I never really got the chance.

I was always a bit apprehensive about doing this podcast

because you are a very smart guy

and your audience is very smart

and I always had a bit of imposter syndrome.

So I’ll tell you this now after the podcast.

So please do judge me, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

I loved it.

You’re a brilliant man.

And I love the fact that you have imposter syndrome

because a lot of us do.

And so that’s beautiful to see even at the very top,

but you still feel like an imposter.

Thank you, brother.

Thanks for talking today.

Thanks for listening to this conversation

with Magnus Carlsen.

To support this podcast,

please check out our sponsors in the description.

And now let me leave you with some words from Bobby Fischer.

Chess is a war over the board.

The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.

Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.

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