Who Will Be The Next FIDE World Champion? Here's What The Numbers Say

Who Will Be The Next FIDE World Champion? Here's What The Numbers Say

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A new world chess champion will be crowned in the 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship. With current world champion GM Magnus Carlsen's decision to sit out of this world championship, we have two other top players pitted against one another for the title.

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi qualified for his second championship in a row by winning the 2022 FIDE Candidates Tournament. GM Ding Liren placed second, which gave him Carlsen's qualifying spot. 

Nepomniachtchi's 2795 rating and Ding Liren's 2788 place them second and third on the live FIDE rating list. Expect both players to be hungry to take the crown and start the next legacy. Carlsen's ten-year reign was impressive, but now we are creating a post-Carlsen era if he doesn't challenge for a future title match.

A recent survey on showed that 56% of members think Nepomniachtchi will win the match, and 44% think Ding Liren will win (as of the morning of March 28).Ian Nepomniachtchi Ding Liren FIDE World Championship Predictions

The stats from my improvement website are pretty close to what the fans think. According to the stats, this will be the closest world championship ever.

Prediction Methodology

To create the prediction, we first have to understand the parameters of the match.

  • Classical: The match will consist of 14 classical games (two more than title matches before 2021). If one player scores 7.5 points, he is crowned the winner.
  • Rapid: If the match is tied after 14 games, a four-game rapid tiebreak with a 25+10 time control is played.
  • Blitz: If still tied after four rapid games, the match goes to a two-game playoff blitz match with a 5+3 time control. If those games are tied, another two-game blitz match. This process repeats until a winner is declared.

We will run 1000 simulations for each segment above to determine the total odds that each player wins. But first we must feed the models with predicted points per game and an estimated draw rate to run the simulations. Let's jump right in!

Classical Segment

Both players were already rated near 2700 ten years ago. Ding Liren took a steeper trajectory to reach the 2800-mark and has been consistently between 2788 and 2816 for the past four-and-a-half years. Nepomniachtchi is at his peak rating of 2795 and appears to be in his prime and still climbing!

Rating progress charts for Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren. Image:

To gather data for the prediction model, I logged stats from the last 17 world championship matches dating back to the 1985 match between GMs Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.

I considered player age, previous experience, head-to-head scores, player ratings, and other variables. While it's true that experience positively correlates with the match winner, the experience variable is hard to untangle from player ratings. Dominant past champions Kasparov, GM Viswanathan Anand, and Carlsen were all higher rated than most of their opponents. Age was not a strong predictor either, except in matches with a double-digit age gap. Kasparov beating Karpov, GM Vladimir Kramnik beating Kasparov, and Carlsen beating Anand were all double-digit age differences.

Nepomniachtchi at the 2022 Fischer Random World Championship, where he finished second. He's hoping to finish first in this world championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The strongest predictor is the current FIDE ratings of the players. Based on the rating differences in all previous matches, we would expect the higher-rated player to score 54.9% in previous matches. Actual matches have played out to be around 52.3% for the higher-rated player. World championship matches tend to be even closer than the ratings suggest. Based on the FIDE ratings, I estimate Nepomniachtchi to score 51%.

Next, we need to determine the percentage of games that end in draws. I estimate the draw rate for this match to be 70%, tied with the historical average since 1985. The draw rate is also based on the ratings of the two players, as higher-rated players tend to draw more often.

Rapid And Blitz Tiebreaks

The odds of the match ending in the classical segment are around 79%, so that format gets the most attention to detail. Past world championships have proven to be closer in classical than rapid and blitz. I will assume that the players will also be closer in rapid than their rating gap dictates.

Ding Liren in the final round of the 2022 Candidates, where he won his game to finish in second place, which was eventually enough to earn a spot in the championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

I have Ding Liren as a slight favorite in rapid and Nepomniachtchi as a slight favorite in blitz. According to, Ian Nepomniachtchi has beaten Ding Liren 3–2 with eight draws in classical games. Rapid and blitz also favored Nepomniachtchi slightly by 10 wins to seven, with nine draws. That said, Ding Liren was recently the number one rapid player in the World after the 2022 Chinese Chess league bumped him to 2836 (at which time Carlsen was second at 2834 rapid). Nepomniachtchi is a well-established blitz player, while Ding Liren only has a provisional blitz rating, and so the former gets the edge in blitz.

The draw rates for rapid and blitz are about 50% and 25%, respectively.


Running 1000 simulations on the classical segment, Nepomniachtchi wins 43.1% of the time and Ding Liren 36.2% of the time, with a 20.7% chance of a tiebreaker. 

Nepomniachtchi 43.1%
Ding Liren 36.2%
Tiebreaker 20.7%

Next, I ran another 1000 simulations to estimate the odds of each player winning in the event of the match going to the rapid segment. The same exercise was completed for the blitz tiebreakers.

Per segment odds

Result Classical Rapid (21%) Blitz (5%)
Nepomniachtchi 43% 7% 3%
Ding Liren 36% 9% 2%
Tiebreak 21% 5% -

Nepomniachtchi has a 43% chance to win the match in the classical portion, with a 21% that it goes to rapid. Breaking down the odds within that 21%, Ding Liren is expected to win 9% to Nepomniachtchi's 7%. If the match goes to blitz (the remaining 5%), Nepomniachtchi has a slight edge.

Another way to look at the data is to determine the odds of each player winning the match at the start of each segment type.

Odds to win at the start of the segment

Result Classical Rapid Blitz
Nepomniachtchi 54% 45% 56%
Ding Liren 46% 55% 44%

This table shows us that the tiebreaks don't favor one player too strongly, unlike previous Carlsen matches. Would this be the most exciting world championship tiebreak ever?


The online odds for this match are about 55-45 for Ian Nepomniachtchi, which is close to my prediction of 54-46. 

Who do you think will win the match? What do you place the odds at? Let us know in the comments below!

NM Matt Jensen

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