Statistics and numbers: The World Chess Championship in 5 Charts

by ChessBase
1/5/2022 – The World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi was the chess highlight of the year 2021, and chess fans all over the world followed the games and the match avidly. Carlsen won 7.5-3.5 and defended his title. Shortly after the match, Oliver Roeder and Simran Parwani took a look at some statistics of the match and presented their findings on www.538.com, a statistics-oriented website that focuses on American politics and sports. | Image: FIDE

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The World Chess Championship In 5 Charts

How Magnus Carlsen cemented his GOAT status over 11 games.

By Simran Parwani and Oliver Roeder
Published Dec. 14, 2021

The 2021 World Chess Championship ended last week with Magnus Carlen of Norway, the world No. 1, defending his title against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia. It was Carlsen’s fifth victory in the world championship, a title he has held since 2013, and the match went a long way toward cementing his status as the greatest chess player of all time.

The contest featured some of the best chess ever played by humans, nearly flawless even when examined by modern, superhuman machines. It also featured a few inexplicable blunders, and just three bad moves saw Nepomniachtchi’s chances slip quickly and irretrievably away. The match also generated a lot of data! We’ve charted some of it below.

The match was scheduled as a best-of-14-game contest, but Carlsen wrapped it up in 11 games, securing the 7.5 points needed to clinch the championship. Below is a snapshot of the match after each of the 572 moves in those 11 games, calculated by the computer chess engine Stockfish. Computer engines evaluate chess positions in equivalents of pawn margin — positive numbers here are good for Carlsen and negative numbers good for Nepomniachtchi. In many games, these numbers hovered around zero, representative of that sparkling, accurate and dead-level chess. But Nepomniachtchi’s blunders broke our chart again and again, skyrocketing the evaluations in Carlsen’s favor in Games 8, 9 and 11.

The race for the chess crown was marked by brilliance and blunders

Advantage by player - Magnus Carlsen vs Ian Nepomniachtchi - after each move in the 2021 World Chess Championship

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