Carlsen told CNN after the game that the main difference between this year’s championship and previous events in Moscow is the global audience the event attracts
The best chess players in the world play against each other in contests that are remembered more for drama than financial gain, and two of the world’s best continue that tradition on Saturday.
Magnus Carlsen, the defending world chess champion, will play Hikaru Nakamura of the United States in a best-of-15-games match in the Russian capital.
The two men face off in a rematch of the final in 2015, a gripping match in which Carlsen claimed the title in a dramatic two weeks in Moscow.
Carlsen told CNN after the game that the main difference between this year’s championship and previous events in Moscow is the global audience the event attracts.
“Some say the [new] championship is more interesting because we have the widest audience and we have more countries involved,” Carlsen said.
“This is the most-watched event in Russia of all times.”
The duel was labelled “The Match of the Century” by organizers when the two players entered the starting line-up.
It has brought about a global fascination as the tournament was aired live by all major TV networks across the world, in addition to online audiences across millions of devices.
Carlsen defeated Nakamura in the 2015 Moscow championship, but was denied a second World Championship by Vishy Anand.
The American has the chance to avenge his defeat in Moscow as he takes to the chessboard alongside the Norwegian-born champion.
But it seems Carlsen has taken on board some of the advice he received during his discussions with the Russian chess master, sitting down and discussing a number of crucial aspects with him during preparations for the upcoming contest.
The 28-year-old said he is likely to play again the “Blink game”, a strategy that stops the opponent from building up a sequence of moves before his own moves, which he has generally cited as one of his strongest attributes.
He admits that “the aura around chess” has diminished in recent years and that the sport will have to resort to new methods to retain its relevance.
“You need to find the new thing to lure the fanatics or to get the spectators back into chess,” Carlsen said.
Meanwhile, Nakamura said he too hopes to gain some insight from Carlsen for future matches.
“I really can’t imagine how [Carlsen] thinks with all of the knowledge he has to gain. It’s a very difficult thing,” Nakamura said, adding that he hoped to glean some “intelligence” from the world champion from their recent discussions.
“I’m looking forward to a good chess match and a great chess match,” Nakamura said.
The match kicks off at 9:00 p.m. CEST Saturday and runs through 4:30 a.m. Sunday. It is scheduled to conclude in Moscow on 4:30 a.m. Monday.