A: In general, yes, one should preserve energy for tournaments, and probably [Garry] Kasparov and [Bobby] Fischer are good examples of that. For me, I try to do both; I try to stay relaxed and at the same time stay sharp. To stay sharp, I do problems and to stay relaxed, I watch sports and basically take my mind off the game.
Q: But in the moment, you were just focused on winning the game. It was stressful just reading about it because it was a nail-biter, but that buzzer beater won you a monumental achievement overall. How did you stay focused in the moment?
A: There was a lot of pressure on me, and I tried to basically focus on just the game. But at some point, I got really deep into the variations. I had very low time, but I made the game very sharp, and my opponent then also kept getting lower and lower on time.
Q: Now we’re thinking ticking time bomb …
A: At some point, I even had only one second on the clock, and I had to make my move extremely fast.
Q: And looking back, was it the right instinct?
A: Yes, I think it was the correct move.
Q: Trash talk isn’t really a big part of the culture of chess. What kind of mental intimidation occurs over the board between opponents?
A: Sometimes people try to stare down their opponents, but …
Q: But you have a mind of steel, Professor X …
A: Well, I will just stare right back.
Q: I understand that you have your eyes on a world championship. What do you need to do to get there?
A: Anyone who plays the game has eyes on the World Championship title, and if they say otherwise, don’t believe them. Basically, though, it comes down to work ethic, and when I say I want to become world champion, I think that time will show. I just became a grandmaster, and there are still so many steps to get to that title.
Q: How do you sustain yourself –mentally, physically and emotionally – from exhaustion in long matches?
A: Well basically during tournaments, a win really adds to your confidence, and I don’t really get hungry.
Q: Because of the adrenaline?
A: I drink water, but I don’t need anything else. But I do stay physically fit in general. I go to the gym. I run and swim and play sports, which you should do for these long games that can last so many hours.
Q: With all that water over those hours, can you get up and go to the bathroom?
A: [Laughs.] Of course, you can do that as much as you need.
Q: How much of chess, then, is playing against your opponent versus playing against yourself?
A: When it comes to playing your opponent, you especially want to be up on time or at least equal on time to keep the pressure on.
See Guardian's interview.