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World Cup candidate Wang Hao: “The opponents are not that important. I have to have my things on. "
To the observer from Europe, it has looked for years as if Wang Hao often went underground for months. Then suddenly he is there again, and it is not uncommon for him to produce a fabulous result that suggests what the 30-year-old from northeast China is capable of. In the world rankings he is the second best Chinese in 12th place, but he has not been nominated for the Chinese national team for seven years. As a lone fighter, he is now sniffing the chess throne.
Not only the chess player Wang Hao, but also the person Wang Hao is more than his seven competitors the "dark horse" at the candidates tournament. We hardly know his story, we know less about him than about everyone else. For ChessBase India, Sagar Shah interviewed the Chinese world-class player in front of the camera on the sidelines of the Rapid and Blitz World Cup. We translated and wrote.
What were your expectations when you started at the Grand Swiss?
I didn't expect things to go so well on the Isle of Man. In principle, every participant over 2700 could calculate certain chances. Not as good as Magnus or Fabiano, of course, but many can win in such a format. In the end it was a great result for me. I was lucky.
Didn't you play very well in the first place?
Yes, but you can't play that well without the necessary luck.
You now know who your seven opponents will be in the Candidates Tournament. How is the preparation going?
In the weeks after the Grand Swiss I was so busy that it was difficult to find time to prepare. Knowing who the opponents will be is not that important. What counts for me is that I bring my openings to the necessary level.
No specific preparation for specific opponents?
To a certain extent, maybe, but I want to surprise my opponents. That's why I have to have my things on top of everything. I don't look so much at who's going to be on the other side of the board.
You said on the Isle of Man that you have always been a lone fighter who now has to put together a team for the first time. Not an easy task, I suppose.
Yes that's true. I'm also not at all sure how much time I can find to work with others.
Do you think you can win the Candidates Tournament?
I even want to think about it. That wouldn't get me anywhere.
A good four years ago you won the Al Ain Open with a 2944 performance. At the time you declared that you weren't really a serious chess worker with overly ambitious ambitions. You are now in the Candidates Tournament. Does what you said back then still apply?
That was true until the Grand Swiss. I worked as a coach, advanced my students' chess, and was busy with a few other things.
Since then I haven't trained anyone, but I still had to play a few tournaments after the Grand Swiss: the Chinese league and the Grand Prix in Jerusalem, then a quick tournament in China. I've never played so much before.
Your compatriot Ding Liren is the second Chinese in the candidates tournament. Ding has had a phenomenal year and it is said that he may be the one who will dethrone Magnus. What do you say about Ding Liren?
We are not particularly close, difficult to say anything. I always consider things to be extremely ambitious and focused. Not only in chess, but also in card games, for example. He really wants to win. For him, there is no such thing as playing for fun. In the past few years, Ding had every opportunity to focus on chess because his family and regional team supported him so much. Without this support and focus, he would not have reached this level.
Is your way different?
I always did a lot of things on the side. When it comes to chess, nobody has ever supported me. My life is very different.
Did you make it to the candidates tournament without outside help?
You can say that, yes.
Well It's still better with support. Life is getting easier.
You are a huge fan of video games. What are you playing
Persona 5, it's been around since 2017, I'm playing an updated version. And I ordered a few other things. I am always trying out new games.
Does this help your chess?
No, I'm just doing this for fun. I want to spend my free time doing something that I enjoy.
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