“I do focus quite a bit on the opening, but I have a different goal,” Carlsen said. “Some people try to win the game in the opening. My goal is to make sure I get a playable position and then the main battle is going to happen in the middle game and the later game.”
The strategy has worked. Earlier this year, he passed Garry Kasparov’s record to attain the highest chess rating ever in the world governing body FIDE rankings. With his modeling contract alongside Liv Tyler for fashion label G-Star Raw, soccer-style sponsorship slogans on his clothing and unnervingly fast and aggressive decisionmaking, the emergence of the telegenic young chess superstar has also helped spur interest in the game not seen since the 1970s and 1980s — the heydays of the Russian masters and the American Bobby Fischer.