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A New King for a New Era in Chess


Garry Kasparov’s article in Time magazine on Carlsen’s ascent to the top.

TIME 100

The guard has been changed at the top of the chess world. Last week in Chennai, India, 22-year-old Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen easily toppled defending world champion Viswanathan Anand of India. The challenger won three games without a loss, plus seven draws, ending the match two games before its scheduled length of 12 games.

Carlsen’s domination renders unnecessary any extensive punditry on the match itself. He has been the world’s top-ranked player for two years already while Anand’s results have tailed off, as those of players on the wrong side of forty tend to do. It is true that Anand made quite a few unforced errors in his losses, but as I said before the match, Anand was fighting not only a stronger player but also the tidal forces of time and history. Carlsen is a force of nature whose time has come and there was little Anand could…

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Predictions for Anand vs. Carlsen world championship. What does the data say?


Anand vs. Carlsen world championship 2013 will start in little less than 6 hours. It has been described as a battle between experience and youth, and arguments have been made for both sides. Carlsen is arguably the best player the world has ever seen, and has  an Elo rating of 2870, that no other player has ever seen on earth. He is not known to have a very deep opening knowledge, but has superior midgame and endgame knowledge and stamina and tends to grind his opponents to gain wins from equal positions after opening. He is known for precise plays, and has a good intuitive feel for the position. On the other hand, Anand is a 5 time world champion, has won world championship in 3-different world championship, and has been playing top level chess for more years than Carlsen’s age. He is known to have good opening preparations, but recently has been seen unmotivated or disinterested and tends to make mistakes at all three phases of the game. The bookies think Carlsen has 2:1 odds, or about 67% chance to win the match. The official website is chennai2013.fide.com

What does the data say?

Given an Elo difference between the 2 players of 95 points, which roughly translates to 0.6 points for Carlsen in a game, and 0.4 points for Anand in a game, we can predict what will happen during the match. Here, we need to assume a probability of a draw. I did 30,000 simulations, 10,000 each by assuming 40% draw rate, 50% draw rate, and 60% draw rate. The results don’t differ a lot.

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The most likely outcome is that Carlsen wins with 6.5-3.5 or 6.5-4.5 points. After 12 games, there is about 80% chance that Carlsen wins, 10% chance the match goes into tie-breaks and 10% chance that Anand wins. We will come back and check after approximately 3 weeks, how good these predictions are 🙂

Please leave a comment for your own predictions. If you wish to just vote in a poll it is here