A few weeks ago, Financial Times journalist Martin Sandbu wrote in “Lunch with the FT…” that this young chess player at just 22 is one of the greatest players of all time.
The two met over lunch, and Magnus spoke of his background and expectations. Of how he taught chess himself following his instinct. He also trained with Kasparov, the legendary Russian chess player, who taught him that following one’s own instinct is less stressful.
“Some people think that if their opponent plays a beautiful game, it’s OK to lose. I don’t. You have to be merciless.”
Magnus reveals he never gives up, he always keeps on going: “I can’t count the times I have lagged seemingly hopelessly far behind, and nobody except myself thinks I can win… When you are behind there are two strategies – counter-attack or all men to the defenses.
I’m good at finding the right balance between those…” he adds. “Self-confidence is very important. If you don’t think you can win, you will take cowardly decisions in the crucial moments. Take playfulness seriously, never give up and think positively.”
Journalist Martin Sandbu adds that Magnus has achieved success with his talent and hard work. Magnus ends the interview saying: “I don’t have a goal. It’s fun to play, it’s fun to win”.
I have said before how important lightheartedness can be besides believing in ourselves and never giving up.
But now I would also add: being merciless with ourselves is also important. Never feeling satisfied, but keeping on fighting. Without being evil, but only because we believe in ourselves and in our skills. And having fun, too.
A great lesson from a 22-year-old young man. If you want, you can. Often.
Last night I went to the Scala Theatre in Milan to listen to tenor Vittorio Grigolo perform. He is only 35 and the Scala dedicated to him a full solo show made of two 40-minute parts. He was applauded and did encores for further 40 minutes. Sweating, exhausted, but still willing to “play”.
He fought and made it, in such a challenging environment and at such a young age. “Yes,” he told me “I have never saved my energies and never felt sorry for myself . I did struggle, but always serenely.
Believing in myself.”And he made it.
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– GM Susan Polgar