Chess, Character and Champions

The World Chess Championship in New York has entered an interesting phase. After seven straight draws, we’ve finally witnessed a decisive result at the World Chess Championship.

Sergey Karjakin of Russia, the challenger, claimed the first full-point on Monday against titleholder Magnus Carlsen of Norway. More interestingly, Magnus Carlsen declined to attend the Round 8 post game press conference. FIDE regulations state that every player must attend the post game press conference, otherwise he will be penalized by a deduction of 10% of his prize money.

Magnus has been the undisputed King of Chess World for last few years and is way ahead of Sergey in terms of FIDE Chess Ratings (Magnus is Ranked # 1 with 2853 rating points vs Sergey who is ranked #9 with 2772 rating points). Magnus’ personality oozes confidence , bordering on arrogance. It could be attributed partially to language barrier. It could also be his complete dominance in the world of chess. One cannot know for sure. However it is true that he is a fierce fighter and doesn’t like losing (trait shown by many world champions including Garry Kasparov).

So, how you deal with loss, defeat or failure shows the true personality. Warren Buffett famously wrote in his annual letters “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked“. He was referring to the investors who get exposed when markets plunge. The same line can be tweaked and applied to sports personalities.

Heywood Broun, the American Journalist once said: “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” This echoes with Warren Buffett’s quote. The true personality of a person is exposed when he is down and dusted.

Garry Kasparov was a sore loser. Check how he reacted after a wrong move against Vishy Anand

And here’s how Kasparov reacted to an organizer:


The latest addition to this list is Magnus Carlsen. So far Magnus had amazing run and this side of his was never revealed. But check how annoyed he looks during an earlier press conference:

And to take it a step further, Magnus declined to join the press conference after losing Game 8 yesterday.

The real match begins now! With just 4 games left, Magnus must fight back hard to win  and level scores. Karjakin, on the other hand needs to defend strongly and avoid a losing posing – and he has done that so well in this match so far!

Let’s see what more is revealed by Magnus’ character in coming days.

I tend to be anti-establishment and bet on the Challenger or an underdog. And I would love to watch Magnus dethroned for one more reason – Magnus defeated Vishy Anand (and defeated very badly) twice in earlier World Chess Championship matches. Being an Indian and more importantly being a Vishy fan, I would love to see someone tearing Magnus apart! Let’s see how it goes…


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