Magnus Carlsen has revealed he will play a teenager for the first time in the match against France’s Fabiano Caruana at the world championship this week.
Carlsen told Guardian Sport the record-breaking Norwegian, who is seeking to emulate Viswanathan Anand’s feat of four victories in a row in the competition in 2010, has become more famous in the UK since his first bout with the 18-year-old last year.
“I went to watch him play his [last] match against Ding [Junhui],” said Carlsen. “I took a walk on the Square Mile, and more people recognised me and asked about me – more than I could have imagined.
“That is definitely a great feeling, but the pressure for this tournament is much bigger, the stage is bigger, the pressure is huge. I always want to perform well.”
The world No1 will face Caruana, a Frenchman born in Iran, for the first time when they line up for Tuesday’s opening session in Shanghai, where the final two weeks of competition will be held.
Carlsen is the overwhelming favourite to become the first player to go unbeaten in a full world championship for 21 years, but his opponent stands in his way.
“I played against him two years ago, but he is getting a lot more attention now,” said Carlsen. “He is such a hotshot and I definitely know him. We were in a few countries together. He’s a good guy, and he’s one to watch.”
Despite the London Olympics and next year’s World Cup ahead of him, Carlsen believes his long career has allowed him to perfect his game.
“I have been going to tournaments for quite a while now, since before I was six years old,” he said. “I have learnt a lot. I don’t want to make any excuses for my performance in the past, but I think I have improved my game and I have got better on the mental side.
“It is important to keep a certain level during the long way because [on the grand slams] it takes years, you’re not very confident but at other tournaments you don’t have that much time. In chess, it’s more like tennis – you’re going to hit the ball and within a split second, that’s it.”