Magnus Carlsen opted for a normal e3 opening in his first-round game against Indian Grandmaster Surya Sekhar Ganguly at the Doha Worlds, but the FIDE world champion in both classical and rapid formats said he had decided on it long ago.
“The day after I retained the classical title, I started thinking about which opening to play at the rapid and blitz event in Doha,” said Carlsen, who added that it was more important to stay focused throughout.
“I’ve fond memories of Qatar and I always love to play here. But the tournament is a tough one because of its unpredictability unlike the classical ones. If you’ve one bad day, it’ll cost you the entire event. You need to stay focused all the time,” said Carlsen, who did not enjoy a great opening to his campaign in Doha.
The Norwegian, with an Elo rating of 2,840, hopes to retain the title he won in Berlin last year.
“The tie-break at the classical World Championships against (Sergey) Karjakin in New York last month was actually fun. I was in good shape. It also helped me prepare for the Doha event, but one needs to be really good because every year there’re some new players who challenge the best,” said Carlsen, who won the Qatar Masters last year.
He celebrated his 26th birthday during the World Championships on November 30.
“I was a bit tired and also had a bit of cake. There’s a superstition that you shouldn’t play on your birthday. It’s bad luck, but I’ve yet to experience that,” he added.
After retaining the world title, Carlsen went on a holiday in Australia.
Asked about USA’s Fabiano Caruana (Elo 2,823), who is breathing down his neck on the rating list, Carlsen said, “It’s a little-uncomfortably close now.”