Odds and Prediction: World Chess Championship 2021

  • Who: Reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen vs. challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi
  • What: World Chess Championship 2021
  • When: Wed, Nov 24, 2021 – Thu, Dec 16, 2021
  • Where: Dubai Exhibition Centre

Originally scheduled for the latter half of 2020, the World Chess Championship taking place later this month will be a must-see heavyweight bout. In a duel between reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen and the No. 5 ranked player in the world, Ian Nepomniachtchi, chess waits to see if a new champion will be awarded in December. 

Below we take a look at the tale of the tape of the two competitors and what kind of measurables stick out as giving one competitor the edge.

Magnus Carlsen (Odds: TBA)

The number one ranked player in the world, Carlsen has had a meteoric rise to the top of the chess world. The Norwegian chess grandmaster first reached the top of the FIDE world rankings in 2010, and trails only the legendary Garry Kasparov in time spent as the highest rated player in the world. Carlsen has held the title of world champion since 2013 when he defeated Viswanathan Anand for the crown. Indeed his resume speaks volumes about the caliber of player that Carlsen has developed into, it is almost like facing the T-1000 from Terminator. 

For his style, Carlsen’s personal playing tactics have evolved from a mostly attacking style in his teens to now a balanced approach where he can catch an opponent off guard in a variety of ways. In addition to the Kasparov comparison above, Carlsen’s endgame tactics have given off shades of other phenomenal players like Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. His prowess in the endgame has been studied at length and is truly where the Norwegian is at his most deadly. 

In terms of prior matchups with his opponent, Ian Nepomniachtchi, he has lost to the Russian twice, albeit some time ago. Carlsen came up short against Nepomniachtchi at the 2002 Under-12 World Championship and also in 2011 at the Tata Steel Class Tournament. However, he would go on to avenge those losses when he defeated Nepomniachtchi in 2017 at the London Chess Classic.

Magnus Carlsento win World Chess Championship 2021
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Ian Nepomniachtchi (Odds: TBA)

Carlsen’s challenger is the No. 5 ranked player in the world, Ian Nepomniachtchi. A chess Grandmaster since 2007, Nepomniachtchi is one of the most skilled players in the world. Nepomniachtchi won the 2021 FIDE Candidates tournament with a round spare which garnered him an opportunity to face Carlsen in the World Chess Championship. 

The Russian has a diverse resume of chess championships. He most recently won the Russian Superfinal in 2020 (his second) and also was a member of the Russian team that won the World Team Chess Championship in 2019. After finishing second at the FIDE Grand Prix in 2019, he was then able to go on to win the aforementioned FIDE Candidates tournament later on.

Though his last victory against Carlsen occurred 10 years ago, Nepomniachtchi serves as a formidable foe for the world champion.

Ian Nepomniachtchito win 2021 World Chess Championship
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Prediction: Though this year’s world championship tilt will be an exciting duel, Carlsen is still the odds-on favorite to retain and continue to retain his world championship

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Jack Plisken is an avid sports fan, originally from Kansas City, who now lives in New York City. Plisken's work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, NBA.com, USA Today, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He has made a name for himself by covering all kinds of competitions at an award-winning level from football all the way to amateur wrestling.