Self-confidence is very important. If you don’t think you can win, you will take cowardly decisions in the crucial moments, out of sheer respect for your opponent. You see the opportunity but also greater limitations than you should. I have always believed in what I do on the chessboard, even when I had no objective reason to. It is better to overestimate your prospects than underestimate them.
Some people think that if their opponent plays a beautiful game, it’s OK to lose. I don’t. You have to be merciless.
I can’t count the times I have lagged seemingly hopelessly far behind, and nobody except myself thinks I can win. But I have pulled myself in from desperate [situations]. When you are behind there are two strategies – counter-attack or all men to the defences. I’m good at finding the right balance between those.
I learnt an enormous amount, but there came a point where I found there was too much stress. It was no fun any more. Outside of the chessboard I avoid conflict, so I thought this wasn’t worth it. (on training sessions with Kaspoarov)
I started by just sitting by the chessboard exploring things. I didn’t even have books at first, and I just played by myself. I learnt a lot from that, and I feel that it is a big reason why I now have a good intuitive understanding of chess.
Of course, analysis can sometimes give more accurate results than intuition but usually it’s just a lot of work. I normally do what my intuition tells me to do. Most of the time spent thinking is just to double-check.
What I admired most about him was his ability to make what was in fact so difficult look easy to us. I try to emulate him. (on Fischer) - Magnus Carlsen
Not winning a tournament is not an option for me, unless it's no longer theoretically possible - then of course winning becomes impossible. But up to that point, not winning is just not an option. - Magnus Carlsen
For me right now I think being the world number one is a bigger deal than being the world champion because I think it shows better who plays the best chess. That sounds self-serving but I think it’s also right. (2012)
There wasn’t any particular player I modeled my game after. I tried to learn from everyone and create my own style. I studied past players. Truth be told I never had a favorite player. It’s just not my nature to go around idolizing people. I just go try to learn.
All I expect are wins and to get pleasure from the game. And if someone thinks something about me, if someone’s dissatisfied with something… that’s not my headache. I hope someday I’ll become World Champion – and I’ll make all these people happy. But even if for some reason that doesn’t happen it won’t stop me getting pleasure from chess. I’m sure of that. (2012)
Contrary to many young colleagues I do believe that it makes sense to study the classics.
I played like a child. - (13 year old Magnus after a loss in the second game of a two game rapid chess match with Kasparov - after drawing the first game)
It's easy to get obsessed with chess. That's what happened with Fischer and Paul Morphy. I don't have that same obsession. - (as interviewed in Time magazine)
I am not some sort of freak. I might be very good at chess but I'm just a normal person.
I am trying to beat the guy sitting across from me and trying to choose the moves that are most unpleasant for him and his style.
I get more upset at losing at other things than chess. I always get upset when I lose at Monopoly.
He has an extreme capacity for work, extreme determination to win and extreme perfectionism. - (on Kasparov)
Carlsen will be ridiculously difficult to play against. (on the 2013 World Championship match) - Viswanathan Anand
Magnus probably sees himself more like a modern sports star who wants to have fun than like a traditional stereotype of a chess player. - Espen Agdestein
With the exception of Magnus, sponsors in general are not interested in individual players — they’re interested in being associated with the sport as a whole. - Andrew Paulson (2013)
My congratulations to Magnus Carlsen for winning the London Chess Classic and for becoming the highest-rated chess player in the history of our game. 13 was always my number; born on the 13th and the 13th world champion, so it seems fitting that my record lasted 13 years! No one who has followed Magnus’s career can be surprised that he is the one to break it. He did it in fine style in London, showing both brilliance and tenacity. - (note read at closing ceremony of 4th LCC) - Garry Kasparov
Magnus Carlsen has an amazing endgame technique. His victory against Radjabov reminds us of Capablanca's famous win against Kan in Moscow 1936 (at the 2012 Tal Memorial) - Karsten Muller
Magnus plays at level of tactical brilliance and sublime endgame technique that I could not even imagined, even from people like Petrosian, Tal and Larsen, whom I played in the 1976 Interzonal in Biel. - Kenneth Rogoff
This is real talent. - Alexander Nikitin
Magnus has a strong fighting spirit and only starts complications when he can control them. - Carsten Muller
With so many victories coming relatively easily to his immense talent and fighting spirit, the final crucial ingredient of relentless work will guarantee his place in history. - Garry Kasparov
You could say that both Fischer and Carlsen had or have the ability to let chess look simple. - Viswanathan Anand
Acknowledging that these days getting an advantage from the opening is well-nigh impossible, as everyone relies on top-notch computers for research, he tries to reach positions in which he is confident that he will outplay his opponents in the middle- or endgame. - Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam