Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen Is Mr. Confident

Chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen on plotting, planning, and the weakness of pessimism
Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in Zurich on Feb. 3 Photograph by Steffen Schmidt/AP Photo

Magnus Carlsen is the best chess player in the world. He’s 23 years old. He won the title—World Chess Champion—in November 2013 in a 10-game, two-week-long tournament against 44-year-old Viswanathan Anand, who’d been the champ since 2007. “People just crack under pressure,” Carlsen said at a press conference afterward. “You just have to keep on pushing.” He doesn’t trust fear or anxiety to motivate him. He trusts confidence. “If you don’t believe in your capability, no one else will,” he said in an e-mail from a training camp in Oman, where he was preparing for a spring tournament in Azerbaijan. “Confidence is important to success in general, not just my own.”

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