Is Magnus Carlsen Playing At His Peak? Ask CAPS...
Magnus Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Is Magnus Carlsen Playing At His Peak? Ask CAPS...‎

SmarterChess
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83 | Chess Players

Magnus Carlsen is off to a hot streak to begin his 2019 chess season. 

Carlsen won the Tata Steel masters tournament (9/13), Gashimov Memorial (7/9) and Grenke Chess Classic (7.5/9). Carlsen's performance ratings at the three events were 2888, 2988 and 2992, respectively. 

Over the past 31 games, Carlsen has scored 23.5 points (75.8 percent) against top-tier opposition. 

How does this performance stack up according to CAPS? 

The Chess.com statistics team crunched the numbers, and we have calculated the average CAPS (Computer Aggregated Precision Score) over every 31-game period. The dataset includes all of Carlsen's classical games from 2009-2019. Results were similar when using the average CAPS values and the ranks of CAPS values.

2019 classical events (CAPS 98.1):

Tata Steel Chess Masters | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rating TPR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Score SB
1 Carlsen 2835 2888 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 9.0 / 13 55.5
2 Giri 2783 2861 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 8.5 / 13 51.5
3 Nepomniachtchi 2763 2809 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 7.5 / 13 48.75
4 Ding Liren 2813 2805 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 7.5 / 13 47.25
5 Anand, 2773 2809 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 7.5 / 13 44.25
6 Vidit 2695 2787 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 7.0 / 13 42
7 Radjabov 2757 2753 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 6.5 / 13 43.25
8 Shankland 2725 2755 ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 6.5 / 13 40
9 Rapport 2731 2755 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 6.5 / 13 38.5
10 Duda 2738 2697 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 5.5 / 13 33.25
11 Fedoseev 2724 2668 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 5.0 / 13 34.25
12 Mamedyarov 2817 2661 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 5.0 / 13 31.25
13 J. van Foreest 2612 2654 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 4.5 / 13 28
14 Kramnik 2777 2641 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 4.5 / 13 26.75

2019 Gashimov Memorial | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2845 2988 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 7.0/9
2 Ding,Liren 2812 2813 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 5.0/9 22.25
3 Karjakin,Sergey 2753 2819 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 20.25
4 Radjabov,Teimour 2756 2780 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9 20.25
5 Grischuk,Alexander 2771 2779 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 4.5/9 18.25
6 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2779 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.5/9 17.5
7 Topalov,Veselin 2740 2743 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.0/9 17.5
8 Navara,David 2739 2743 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.0/9 17.25
9 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2790 2699 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 3.5/9
10 Giri,Anish 2797 2656 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/9

2019 Grenke Chess Classic | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2845 2992 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 7.5/9
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2828 2835 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 6.0/9
3 Naiditsch,Arkadij 2710 2766 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 5.0/9 19
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2775 2760 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/9 18.25
5 Anand,Viswanathan 2779 2721 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 4.5/9 19.75
6 Aronian,Levon 2761 2723 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9 18.75
7 Svidler,Peter 2737 2726 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/9 17.75
8 Vallejo Pons,Francisco 2698 2691 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/9
9 Meier,Georg 2621 2521 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 2.0/9 8.75
10 Keymer,Vincent 2509 2532 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 2.0/9 6.5

CAPS by game:

There is quite a bit of noise when looking at individual game CAPS over time. Taking a 200-game moving average smooths out the trend line nicely and shows that Carlsen is improving, according to CAPS, from 2009-present.

Carlsen CAPS 200 Game MA

How does Carlsen's 2019 CAPS average (31 games) compare to other 31 game sets since 2009? Taking non-overlapping sets of 31 games, here are his top three sets of games:

3. January 13, 2018–April 28, 2018 (CAPS 98.7)

  • Tata Steel 2018: 13 games, 99.0 CAPS
  • Grenke Chess Classic 2018: 9 games, 98.0 CAPS
  • Gashimov Memorial 2018: 9 games, 99.0 CAPS

2. December 4, 2015–January 1, 2016 (CAPS 98.7)

  • London Chess Classic 7th: 9 games, 98.5 CAPS
  • Qatar Masters Op: 9 games, 98.9 CAPS
  • Tata Steel 2016: 13 games, 98.8 CAPS

1. November 15, 2014–April, 21 2015 (CAPS 98.8)

  • Last half of 2014 world championship: 5 games, 99.0 CAPS.  +2 in 5 games.
  • Tata Steel 2015: 13 games, 98.6 CAPS.  2877 Perf.
  • Grenke Chess Classic 2015: 7 games, 98.6 CAPS.  2836 performance rating.
  • First half of Gashimov Memorial 2015: 4 games, 99.0 CAPS.  +2 in 4 games.

Looking at the same chart from above, but using a 31-game moving average instead of a 200-game moving average:

Carlsen CAPS 31-game moving average.

Carlsen's 200-game moving average shows that he is improving his CAPS over time. There is quite a bit of noise in the 31-game CAPS plot, and in 2019 Carlsen is actually playing closer to his career average than his top streaks. 

The reasons for a lower CAPS could be due to a combination of statistical noise and playing riskier positions, but regardless he is not playing his most precise chess so far in 2019. Maybe this means he could still improve on his 2019 start!

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