Shelby Lyman on Chess: World Champion of Self-Description
Sunday, November 1, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, November 1, 2015)
Magnus Carlsen hardly seemed himself at the recent world rapid and blitz championships in Berlin, Germany.
After successfully defending his rapid title (seven minutes per game per player), he stumbled badly in the later rounds of the blitz event (five minutes per game per player), finishing sixth in a field of 50 grandmasters.
A good performance for most but an unsettling one for Carlsen, who had won both the rapid and blitz titles a year earlier.
After losing his fourth game of the day, Carlsen threw his hands into the air and yelled the Norwegian expletive “faen,” which means “the devil,” or, in common speech, even earthier oaths.
Carlsen, who is almost without exception self-possessed and objective under pressure, was apologetic after the outburst.
“I’m very disappointed with myself,” he explained afterward at a post-game news conference, “One thing is the game, but what I’m most disappointed in is how I tackled it.
“I realize it looks pretty stupid to spin ’round and ’round and punch your hands in the air and then storm out like a moron.”
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