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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.


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





  1. PaltryPatzer says:

    match will be decided on tie breaks..

  2. That’s a good statistical analysis using .6 to .4 based on Elo. But if you use other criteria, such as head to head play, you’ll get different results.

    I don’t know who will win, but it should be fun to watch.

  3. mak108 says:

    Anand’s gonna win, cafe. He will pull a great upset. Just watch.

    • cafestream says:

      Hi mak,
      good to see you!! Really excited for the world championship! 🙂

      • mak108 says:

        Your comments on the quick draw? Carlsen looked a bit nervous to me. And Anand was comfortable.

      • cafestream says:

        Hi mak,
        Comments on a quick draw – Anand was better prepared with this opening, Carlsen could not get much out of it because he misplayed move 13. It is good that Anand handled Magnus’s first white game, and I hope that he is better prepared for other games too. However, as far as predictions is concerned, I don’t think it changes the scenario much for the next 11 games. I would still give Carlsen roughly 80% chance to win outright, 10% Anand to win outright, and 10% chance of a tie-break.

  4. Ripost says:

    The bookmakers give 1.25:1 for Carlsen and 3.5:1 for Anand, what would you recommend?

    • cafestream says:

      Hi Ripost,

      Good question. The numbers didn’t seem right to me, so I looked at another betting website http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Chess-c210000170 which has 2/5 for Magnus and 7/4 for Anand. This means that you receive a total of 7 dollars on every 5 that you bet on Magnus (profit =2 ). Basically for you to at least break even if you bet on Carlsen, his probability of winning should be 5/7 = 71.4% or more. Similarly you will make money if you bet on Anand if his probability of winning should be 4/11 = 37% or more. Given our chances of approximately 85-15, I think it would make sense to bet on Carlsen given these odds.

      With your numbers I guess (0.25:1) for Carlsen , and (2.5:1) for Anand, which means betting on Carlsen will make sense if his probability of winning is 0.8 or more, and winning on Anand will make sense if his winning probability is 1/3.5 = 0.286 or more. I think with this bookie, it does not make sense to bet, he has his numbers.

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Countdown to Carlsen-Anand 2014

World chess championship, SochiNovember 8th, 2014
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