Magnus Carlsen, the Icon player of Alpine Warriors, feels the Global Chess League is hotting up as the inaugural edition hits the halfway mark. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Legends have the firm belief that they are the best. It is that belief that makes them the force they are in any sphere of the world. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali said he is the greatest and he believed in his words. Five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen feels the same.

“I don’t look at anyone after me,” Carlsen told the media on Monday after his team SG Alpine Warriors lost to Balan Alaskan Knights in the Tech Mahindra Global Chess League, which reached the midway point, in Dubai on Monday. The Norwegian went on to narrate an incident. “I was asked this question like 11 years ago by a friend of my father, who asked me: ‘What are you going to do in 15 years when somebody comes along, who’s better than you?’ And I was like, no, that’s not going to happen. I’m still fighting,” Carlsen said echoing the quotes of Muhammad Ali.

I am the greatest, says Muhammad Ali

“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I was really the greatest,” one of the boxing legends’ famous words.

However, the five-time world champion, who decided not to defend his world title against Ian Nepomniachtchi earlier this year, said he is not prepared to come back to the World Championship.

Enjoying my time immensely

A definite ‘NO’ was the answer when Gulf News asked Carlsen if he intended to return to the World Championship. “I think people don’t realise that my life isn’t so different now, than it used to be. I’m still playing tournaments, preparing for them, travelling around and I enjoyed it immensely. This is what I was doing before I started playing the World Championship, and this is what I plan on continuing to do for a while.”

Carlsen feels Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa has made huge strides in rapid chess format. Image Credit: Supplied

The 32-year-old was involved in a controversy with Hans Niemann during the Sinquefield Cup in September 2022, and pulled out after a loss in the third round. He later accused the 20-year-old American of cheating. Carlsen in a lengthy statement believed that Niemann had cheated more often and more recently than he had admitted, and said he did not want to play with Niemann.

Special praise for prodigies

The Icon of Alpine Warriors has had mixed fortunes in the Global Chess League. When he won his match, the team lost while the team won, he lost. “It’s really strange. I have won two games and those are the only two games we have lost. The others are have extremely well,” he added with a special praise for the prodigies in his team, Gukesh Dommaruju, Arjun Erigaisi and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa.

“They’re really interesting to talk to when it comes to comes to chess. They calculate extremely well and as for Pragg, I think he’s shown in the past that he’s extremely good at rapid chess, when he’s at his best. The chess that is showing here suggests that he’s taking even further steps, so it’s been really impressive to see,” Carlsen added.

Viswanathan Anand and Carlsen were involved in a classic contest, which the Indian Grandmaster lost but his team won. Image Credit: Supplied

New revolution in India

Carlsen, who defeated Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and defending champion to win the World title in 2013, feels India is at the beginning of a new revolution.

“I think we’re at the beginning of a revolution that started with Anand becoming a Grandmaster in 1988 and then eventually winning the World Championship. What we are seeing now is only going to get better. India is producing Grandmasters at a higher level than ever before. Players like Gukesh breaking into world’s elite at early age means he is going to be the trend rather than exception.

Carlsen is really happy with the current format adopted by the Global Chess League and aims to take the fight to the end. “It’s inspires fighting chess and exciting matches. And for me, I think this is the way forward,” he concluded.