Video by Vijay Kumar, photo Espen with NRK by Anastasya Karlovich
Chessdom: Mr.Agdestein, game 6 of the World Championship Mach is now in progress and many commentators online agree that this is a dream position for Magnus Carlsen. Is this an opinion that you agree with?
Agdestein: I’m happy to hear that, of course. I think he has a pleasant position, but what can come out of this is difficult for me to say.
Chessdom: There is a huge interest about this match in Norway. Of course, we see here in the press room many Norwegian journalists. Many TV stations and many newspapers are covering the match. Can you tell us something more about that?
Agdestein: Yes, in Norway Magnus has been a phenomenon that people have known about, but we got a breakthrough with chess on television in Chennai last year when NRK, the main state channel, covered the whole event on TV.
With huge numbers and ratings, people actually loved the coverage, and it is important that NRK really invested a lot in their innovative concept on how to present chess to reach a broader audience.
And VG, perhaps the main online newspaper in Norway, also covered the match even without live feed. They had a studio in Chennai and they have won awards all over the world for their coverage.
I was excited about how it would turn out this year. Was it successful last time because it was new, or if this trend would continue and people would still watch chess on TV.
And this year it has been amazing, there is huge coverage and this is the main thing currently going on in Norway.
Chessdom: Do you have any feedback about the numbers and how they compare to last year?
Agdestein: They actually seem to be a bit higher than Chennai and that’s incredible. It makes it also very competitive for the Norwegian media and they all want to have some kind of live and on-site coverage.
Chessdom: Even the state TV is moving its main news if the games take too long.
Agdestein: Yes, I think so. They had this experience during the Olympiad, when it was really popular to switch just in the middle, and now it’s incredible how exciting chess can be, even for non-chess players, when following on TV with the commentators and this “Arrow” that shows computer evaluations.
Chessdom: We can conclude that the Norwegian media are setting new standards in the coverage of chess events.
Agdestein: I think they are doing pioneering work, and now media from other countries are contacting NRK to go there and see firsthand how they cover chess.
I am very happy to hear that, because I think the media from all around the world can learn how it is being done in Norway, and hopefully it can be a start of a wider TV coverage.
Chessdom: After the 4th game Magnus was in a very bad mood at the press conference, unhappy about his play. After the 5th game and another draw he was feeling much better. How is his mood changing these days and how can you help him stay focused on chess?
Agdestein: I think he gets a bit annoyed when he feels that he hasn’t played as well as he would like, but in general he is in a very good mood here and he puts things behind him, because we don’t want to waste energy during such a touch match, we want to have fun and be positive.
He has managed to do that and he seems to be in good shape I think.
Chessdom: Did you find enough opportunities for side activities?
Agdestein: Absolutely. We have everything at our disposal and that hasn’t been a problem. We played basketball and football, and the weather has been great, so it’s good here for outdoor activities.
Chessdom: NRK had an interesting article where they compared Chennai and Sochi. Can you comment on differences between two venues?
Agdestein: It was much more crowded in Chennai, so that’s the difference. It’s not that crowded here but hopefully people are following online all over the world, and also on TV and other media, so I think this is the main thing for chess.