Magnus Carlsen Wins 8th World Chess Championship. What Makes Him So Great?

"On Friday, needing just one point against Ian Nepomniachtchi to defend his world champion status, Magnus Carlsen closed the match out with three games to spare, 7.5-3.5," ESPN reports. "He's been the No 1 chess player in the world for a decade now... "In a technologically flat, AI-powered chess world where preparation among the best players can be almost equal, what really makes one guy stand out with his dominance and genius for this long...? American Grandmaster and chess commentator Robert Hess describes Carlsen as the "hardest worker you'll find" both at the board and in preparation. "He is second-to-none at evading common theoretical lines and prefers to outplay his opponents in positions where both players must rely on their understanding of the current dynamics," Hess says... At the start of this year, news emerged of Nepomniachtchi and his team having access to a supercomputer cluster, Zhores, from the Moscow-based Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. He was using it for his Candidates tournament preparation, a tournament he went on to win. He gained the challenger status for the World Championship and the Zhores supercomputer reportedly continued to be a mainstay in his team. Zhores was specifically designed to solve problems in machine learning and data-based modeling with a capacity of one Petaflop per second.... Players use computers and open-source AI engines to analyze openings, bolster preparation, scour for a bank of new ideas and to go down lines that the other is unlikely to have explored. The tiny detail though is, that against Carlsen, it may not be enough. He has the notoriety of drawing opponents into obscure positions, hurling them out of preparation and into the deep end, often leading to a complex struggle. Whether you have the fastest supercomputer on your team then becomes almost irrelevant. It comes down to a battle of intuition, tactics and staying power, human to human. In such scenarios, almost always, Carlsen comes out on top. "[Nepomniachtchi] couldn't show his best chess...it's a pity for the excitement of the match," he said later, "I think that's what happens when you get into difficult situations...all the preparation doesn't necessarily help you if you can't cope in the moment...." Soon after his win on Friday, Carlsen announced he'd be "celebrating" by playing the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Warsaw, a fortnight from now. He presently holds both those titles... The article also remembers what happened in 2018 when Carlsen was asked to name his favorite chess player from the past. Carlsen's answer? "Probably myself, like, three or four years ago."

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