Carlsen or Nepomniachtchi – Who will win?

by ChessBase
11/23/2021 – On Friday, 26 November 2021, at 16:30 local time (13:30 CET, 7:30 ET, 12:30 UTC), the first game of the World Championship match between defending champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi will begin in Dubai. But who will win the match - World Champion Carlsen, since July 2011 the world's number one and with a current Elo rating of 2855 the nominal favourite, or challenger Nepomniachtchi, who currently has an Elo rating of 2782 and is the world's number five, but may not yet have realised his full potential? What do you think? | Photo: Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi at the Norway Chess Tournament 2021 | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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The World Championship match
Carlsen vs. Nepomniachtchi

Host of the World Championship match are the United Arab Emirates. Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi play in Dubai, where the match is part of the Expo2020.

Originally, the Expo was scheduled to begin in autumn 2020 but had to be postponed because of the pandemic. But on 1 October, it officially began and it will continue until 31 March 2022.

The opening ceremony of the World Championship match will take place on 24 November, the first game will be played on Friday 26 November.


Date Event
Wednesday 24 November Opening ceremony
Thursday 25 November Media day
Friday 26 November Game 1
Saturday 27 November Game 2
Sunday 28 November Game 3
Monday 29 November Rest day
Tuesday 30 November Game 4
Wednesday 1 December Game 5
Thursday 2 December Rest day
Friday 3 December Game 6
Saturday 4 December Game 7
Sunday 5 December Game 8
Monday 6 December Rest day
Tuesday 7 December Game 9
Wednesday 8 December Game 10
Thursday 9 December Rest day
Friday 10 December Game 11
Saturday 11 December Game 12
Sunday 12 December Game 13
Monday 13 December Rest day
Tuesday 14 December Game 14
Wednesday 15 December Tiebreak or closing ceremony
Thursday 16 December Closing ceremony in case of a tiebreak

All games start at 16:30 local time (12:30 UTC, 7:30 ET).



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Sorgoth Sorgoth 11/25/2021 05:20

When I said Magnus should be aggressive from the beginning, I did not mean reckless. Aggressive is Magnus' usual style, actually: relentless pressure from the very beginning. That pressure comes in the form of positional pressure. Squeezing his opponents until they crack. That is what he needs to do.
tip4success tip4success 11/24/2021 10:45
@Aighearach: Zukertort never beat Steinitz, he did, however, beat Andersen once in 1871 (and had lost to him in 1868)
Resistance Resistance 11/24/2021 06:56
I think Ian is the kind of player, the kind of person, that needs to enjoy what he does in order to be the best he can be. If he manages somehow to detach from the omnifarious, omnipresent pressure inherent to these high tension events, and finds a way to enjoy this encounter with the world champion; if he manages to see it as a creative opportunity of the highest magnitude, where results are important but only as the consequence of a higher and very own aesthetic guiding principle within, then there's no limit to what he can achieve over the board.

Magnus, on the other hand, needs to stay true to himself. His immense talent, well-balanced head, and strong preparation make him a truly formidable rival and world champion.

I can't wait for the games to start; hope we have a great World Championship Match.

Keshava Keshava 11/24/2021 05:42
@Sorgoth, you write well. Are you a blogger? Anyway I have to disagree with you re: "He should try to make a statement and be aggressive from the beginning." That would be playing Nepo's game and right into his hands. I think that Magnus should play his normal style that has brought him this far.
VVI VVI 11/24/2021 05:25
Nepo is a very talented player but his performance swings are huge. On a good day, he can beat any player.
He can play very sharp and tactical chess. But his consistency is ?
At their best , Carlsen is ahead of Nepo. At their worst, Nepo fares very badly compared to Carlsen.
Clearly, Carlsen is overwhelmingly favorite and it could be a walk in the park for him.
Masquer Masquer 11/24/2021 03:49
Steinitz lost a match to Zukertort?? When was that?
Sorgoth Sorgoth 11/24/2021 02:55
Let us not forget what happened to Kasparov. He did not have the same motivation and belief as Kramnik, despite being the overwhelming (ELO) favorite. If Magnus does not wish to experience something similar, he needs to find inspiration to truly crush Nepo. He should try to make a statement and be aggressive from the beginning. Try to show the world that he can win against younger generation without relying on tie breaks, as he did against Karjakin and Caruana. That needs to be his motivation: to win in Classical, and prove the world that he is indeed the best Classical Match player and deserves his title. That is the kind of motivation he needs to win. Simply playing safe and hoping for blunders is not going to be good enough against Nepo, in my opinion; and even could prove disastrous.
Sorgoth Sorgoth 11/24/2021 02:48
I think Nepo is a very dangerous opponent for Magnus. Caruana is super strong, but Nepo is more daring and confident than Caruana and truly believes he can win -- which can put a lot of pressure on Magnus, who knows he is the favorite. Knowing you're the favorite, can place more pressure on you and relieve pressure off Nepo, which means he can focus on unsettling Magnus and unleashing home prep against him. I am not sure what state of mind Magnus is in. If he is hungry and motivated and truly wants to become the greatest ever, then the advantage swings back in Magnus' favor. If he is simply playing not to lose and defend his title and hope for a win/blunder (as he seemed to do with Caruana/Karjakin), he may very well lose the title. Nepo is definitely in this to win, and believes in himself. Magnus needs find the same kind of inspiration and play like a champion, not like a defender of his title.
fixpont fixpont 11/24/2021 12:50
easy win for MC, much much easier than against Karjakin or Caruana but slightly harder than against Anand
Michael Jones Michael Jones 11/24/2021 12:20
Vidmar - all that shows is that sometimes the Candidates produces a surprise winner, and when it does, they usually lose the match and then never qualify for another one. It's not as if the players you mentioned faded into obscurity: all of them were/are still among the world elite for some time after their WC match, they just never made that last step up again. I don't suppose many people expected Karjakin to win the Candidates, but he's just qualified for the next one so he clearly hasn't fallen too far. Probably not many did Nepo either, given that he was only the fourth highest rated of the eight players.

Karjakin and Caruana both showed that with sufficiently good preparation it's possible to neutralise a rating disadvantage as far as drawing the main match, and I expect Nepo to do the same - 7-7 but lose in the tiebreaks. I would be willing to bet that Firouzja will be the next World Champion - pretty much all the rest of the current elite are about the same age of Carlsen or older, so whenever he starts to decline (and it doesn't look like happening for a while yet) so will they. Firouzja is the only top player who is more than 10 years younger than Carlsen (Duda 7 years younger), so he will still be at his peak when Carlsen is past his - although the way he's been playing recently it's conceivable that he might even be able to beat peak Carlsen.
hansj hansj 11/23/2021 10:38
Let the pieces do the talking!
parselmouth parselmouth 11/23/2021 10:26
Best thing that could happen to Carlsen is losing the first game.
tom_70 tom_70 11/23/2021 10:14
Carlsen will win. Nepo is a tough opponent, but I think most people view Carlsen is just a bit better. Now, when Carlsen has to defend his title against Firouzja , there is a real chance he could lose crown. That kid is amazing.
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 11/23/2021 09:01
Carlsen has a large advantage in longer match play settings due to the amount of WCC matches played. A lot of this match is played off of the board and Carlsen will have his preparation refined due to experience. Neop has the advantage of the underdog. Publicly less pressure. However, he might also think this is his 'one shot' which could be difficult to manage. I think Nepo does seem like the one challenger that Magnus has faced that really in his core believes he is better and sees himself as World Champion. This will be very interesting. Also glad longer format.
Vidmar Vidmar 11/23/2021 08:56
Yes, but these had been WC and lost, then won a rematch.
Not the same as never achieved their ultimate goal.
Only ones on my list that could be considered older are Korch and Gelfand.
Aighearach Aighearach 11/23/2021 08:06
I'm not sure that confidence and aggression are advantages if they don't translate normally into rating points. Perhaps they are merely details of personality? And considering how confident Carlsen is, it hardly seems like it would be an easy advantage to get in the actual match. In their past games, Carlsen has played aggressively, blundered a lot. Probably because of their history playing as kids. But in this match he's going to be well prepared, he's not going to be playing silly exchange sacs.

@Vidmar: Steinitz lost to Zukertort and won the rematch and defended 3 more times. Alekhine lost to Euwe but won the rematch. Botvinnik lost to Smyslov but won the rematch, and lost to Tal but won the rematch.
The only times they fall back into the pack is when they're getting older and aren't as strong anymore. Or were one-off champions. Carlsen is still very young.
PamH PamH 11/23/2021 07:53
Commonly, a chess player likes to listen to classical music to say that he has refined taste. Pure misunderstanding. Those who say that don't know how to define a chord, whether major or minor, so I'm going to watch the duel listening to Sting!
Metaphysician Metaphysician 11/23/2021 07:51
Carlsen is the favorite, though Nepo is a highly-motivated and dangerous opponent.
Carlsen is higher rated of course, and for a reason. He also has more match experience.
While Nepo has chances in a middle game brawl, it’s not as if Carlsen can’t play highly tactical positions.
And in the endgame, who is stronger than Carlsen, who routinely beats strong GMs from positions that seem equal and drawish?
Nepo’s best chance is to strike early in the match and test Carlsen’s resilience.
I would be interested to know both players’ seconds. It will be fun too to see what openings they choose.
Theochessman Theochessman 11/23/2021 07:34
Of course Carlsen will win.
Does anyone really doubt that?

My score prediction is: 7,5-6,5 for Magnus. (Carlsen wins 2 games, Nepo wins 1, 11 draws)
coral292 coral292 11/23/2021 07:18
This World Championship must be a very interesting one to watch taking into account the difference in styles between the two players (needless to bring into discussion the championships between Capablanca-Alekhine, Botvinik-Tal, Karpov-Kasparov... ). I hope we won’t witness another… 14 ”dry” draws (God save we have this time at least 14 games…) with the championship being decided in the rapid games… or in Armagedon! Anyway, sometimes it is very hard to predict the outcome of such intensive struggle. I don’t know why, but I would go for 50%-50%, probably with a small edge in Carlsen’s favour. I hope both combatants are in good shape and they will definetly show their true potential, besides keeping somehow a naturally restrained approach. I look forward to the start of the World Chess Championship. Good luck to the champions and thank you in advance for the entertaining chess!
Vidmar Vidmar 11/23/2021 06:50
It seems when a player loses a World Championship match, he falls back into the pack and never regains such heights.
Bronstein, Korchnoi, Short, Topalov, Leko, Gelfand, Karjakin ...
Caruana still has a chance to break the jinx.
alphamaster alphamaster 11/23/2021 06:09
Nepo may win because has more creativity and is more confident and aggressive than Caruana or Karjakin. Elo difference is nothing for such a match. Nobody wins because of Elo difference.
BAM1958 BAM1958 11/23/2021 05:56
@58977 & Magic_Knight. I agree that Nepo would need an early win (definitely the first win of the match) to put some pressure on Carlsen. Even if he goes up 1-0 in wins, he may need to play to win another game, as a 1 game lead vs Carlsen would be tough to hold (see Karjakin) and any Tiebreak games would heavily favor Carlsen. Karjakin and Caruana were able to play equal with him in the match only to lose in the Tiebreaker. Nepo isn't winning a shootout against Carlsen in a Tiebreaker, so he should go all out for it in the Match. Regardless the outcome, hopefully it will be a good match with some memorable games.
Mr Toad Mr Toad 11/23/2021 05:38
A very convincing comment. I would be interested in seeing any evidence that being overweight really affects a player's game. OK we know that fitness is an important factor. But weight - really?

Eat lots of gingerbread do we? :)
gingerbreadman gingerbreadman 11/23/2021 05:23
70/30 Carlsen for me, but I do think with Nepo's style it'll be a much more entertaining match chess-wise than Carlsen's last two defences. I think people forget that Caruana and Karjakin really, REALLY brought their A-game and A-level opening prep for their challenges. Given that they both have what feels a more 'engine-like' style, that led to an interesting stylistic clash where Carlsen was forced to fight on their turf for much of the match, and he was still able to deal with them (albeit via rapidplay).

Nepo plays in a much more 'pragmatic' style, similar to Carlsen's own; he might might be able to add more facets to his game he already in his preparation, but from what we've seen in their careers recently I'd expect Carlsen to benefit from Nepo's inconsistency over the match to come out with a +2 score, and for their overall career record to regress to the mean. Lastly, Nepo's never been in the best shape, and that matters more in matches; even if he's put in more physical work in the buildup, it takes a good amount of time for the effects of being overweight to leave you, which might make a half-point difference in one of the crucial games.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 11/23/2021 04:40
The only way Nepo would win this is if he scores the first win (mentally handicapping Carlsen) and then Nepo must play his heart out the rest of the match to draw the rest of the games. Thus if Nepo wins, he will only win by a slim margin is my prediction.
s8977 s8977 11/23/2021 04:30
according to Mr. Elo %62-%38 Carlsen wins, Nepo needs an early win and put pressure on Magnus.
Vidmar Vidmar 11/23/2021 04:27
I predict Nepo will win. He has a good record vrs Magnus; he has no reason to feel inferior.
Fabi could have won last time if he'd convinced himself that he was an equal.
Endgame doggedness is Carlson's main strength; he doesn't look like a player who should dominate for a generation, as the dynamic Kasparov did.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/23/2021 04:15
@Agatti he won the candidates.
AWKUZ AWKUZ 11/23/2021 03:00
Если Карлсон победит - интереса смотреть уже почти нет. Ничего нового. А если мы получаем нового Чемпиона - это уже интереснее.
agatti agatti 11/23/2021 02:35
Magnus will win, no doubts, not even for a minute. I'm still not sure how and why Nepo is the challenger as #5 of the ELO list.
Davidx1 Davidx1 11/23/2021 02:11
You know their international elo rating and in the long run it tells you a lot about two active and contemporary players.
If Carlsen is in good physical shape he will win, why shouldn't he win?