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Interviews Jan 15, 2022 | 3:30 PMby Tarjei Svensen

Carlsen: “I wouldn't say chances have increased”

For the first time since winning in Dubai, Magnus Carlsen speaks publicly about his shocking announcement that his fifth World Championship match may have been his last. But Vladimir Kramnik still thinks Carlsen will play against any opponent.

Magnus Carlsen at the Opening Ceremony | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2022

The 84th edition of Tata Steel Chess started today in Wijk aan Zee, with World Champion Magnus Carlsen hunting his 8th title. The 31-year-old announced in a podcast after winning in Dubai that it would likely be his last match, unless Alireza Firouzja is his opponent. “I found that the negative has started to outweigh the positive, even when winning,” he said. Instead, his focus would shift towards breaking the 2900 rating barrier, which is currently 35 points away.

In a new interview with Norwegian broadcaster TV 2 before his first game against Andrey Esipenko in Wijk aan Zee, Carlsen speaks publicly about the decision for the first time.

I wouldn't say the chances have increased since then. I guess I didn't say anything definitive either way, but I have to make a decision on that later. I don't consider it very likely that I will play more matches.

Carlsen still doesn't completely rule out that he will play, but says a decision may not be made until after the challenger is known. The Candidates is scheduled to take place in Madrid from June 16 - July 7.

That's something I will consider, at least. First and foremost I am happy not to think about the World Championship for a while.

He adds:

I feel it's been enough of that. Now I can focus on other things that will give me more in return, at least short-term.

The reactions in the chess world have been mixed. While many fans have said it's entirely within his rights not to play World Championship matches, others have expressed disappointment that the world's dominant player doesn't want to play more title matches. Some have also suggested that he will still show up for the match in 2023.

One of them is Vladimir Kramnik, who previously spoke to chess24 about Carlsen's new target, Alireza Firouzja and young talents. The 14th World Champion tells chess24:

There is no conclusion to draw. Let's wait and see. Of course he has the full right to step out from the title and not to play matches, like every person. Of course he can stop chess if he wants, it will be a pity for everyone, of course, but he has the full right. It's just what he said, you are tired after the match, you are also relieved, so you just say something. I don't think we have to draw some conclusions or discuss. Let's see what he will do. My guess is that he will play the next match against any opponent.

In any case, Carlsen can focus on getting closer to the 2900 barrier in Wijk aan Zee, where he needs to score 9/13 to gain 1 rating point. With 10 points, a tie of his own score from 2013 and Kasparov's record from 2001, he will make it to 2876 on the next list.

Don’t miss Tata Steel Chess from today and onwards, with Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson commentating in English: Tata Steel Masters | Tata Steel Challengers

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