What have you missed the most during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
Chess-wise, it was a pity that the Candidates tournament had to stop as it leaves the whole World Championship cycle somewhat in arrears. Generally, Norway is less affected than many other European countries, and I don’t have much to complain about.
Is this the best time for people to get hooked to chess?
This may indeed be a great (time) for chess. But I would like to add that anytime is a good time to start playing chess.
In an earlier chat with TOI, you mentioned how starting an online tournament was on your mind. Do you feel the conditions worked for you to have one now?
I wish the conditions weren’t like this right now because what is happening around the world is not good at all. People are suffering and dying. However, with the lack of sports entertainment, online chess can really make a difference. And I do think it is a natural progression for chess to grow online. I see online chess becoming more important, more prestigious and hope it will be taken more seriously now onwards.
Sunway Sitges has become the first event to be held in online classical format. Do you see more online classical chess events in the future?
Established tournaments might have to go online if they want to take place this year. For now, I think rapid chess and faster time controls are the best alternatives for online tournaments. It will be interesting to see the feedback from the Magnus Carlsen Invitational.
What are the measures that must be taken to curb cheating which is quite possible in online competitions?
I think chess24.com has taken sensible measures to avoid cheating. It is not that we expect any of the invited players to even consider cheating, but it is simply to protect the players from any unfair suspicions.
Are there mental or technical adjustments that a player needs to make while playing online chess?
It is of course much the same as chess across the board. But the lack of physical awareness of your opponent and the two-dimensional board (and how that potentially affects your thinking) may play more of a role than we think. Even more important is, of course, practice. Young players growing up with online chess may have a slight advantage, and the same applies if you are playing a lot of online chess continuously.
You lost to GM Alireza Firouzja in the Banter Blitz final on Wednesday. Is he one of the toughest you have faced in recent times?
He is a very talented and versatile player. You have to be at your best to beat him. He played well, and I wasn’t quite there on Wednesday. Of course, Alireza has a bright chess future ahead of him.
Are there areas you feel you can get better at?
There is so much to learn in every phase of the game. I hope to continue to improve for many years.