Magnus is the champion. Was 10 games really "too little"?

I've seen some complaints about the short length of the championship match. Like, if it were longer, Anand would still have the chance to catch up. Yes, there were instances of recovering from -3 disadvantage (Steinitz, Euwe and Smyslov pulled those off against Zukertort, Alekhine and Botvinnik respectively, though Smyslov didn't win). But still, let's study the outcome of World Championship matches' first ten games and compare them with the final results.

The first name in the pairing and the first number in the score (except 1886) is the champion.


1894, Steinitz - Lasker. Lasker won 12-7.


1937, Euwe - Alekhine. Alekhine won 15.5-9.5.

1958, Smyslov - Botvinnik. Botvinnik won 12.5-10.5.

1961, Tal - Botvinnik. Botvinnik won 13-8.

1972, Spassky - Fischer. Fischer won 12.5-8.5.


1892, Steinitz - Chigorin. Steinitz drew 10-10 and then won the tie-breaks 2.5-0.5.

1921, Lasker - Capablanca. Lasker forfeited the match when Capablanca led 9-5.


1957, Botvinnik - Smyslov. Smyslov won 12.5-9.5.

1960, Botvinnik - Tal. Tal won 12.5-8.5.

1963, Botvinnik - Petrosian. Petrosian won 12.5-9.5.

1969, Petrosian - Spassky. Spassky won 12.5-10.5.


1886, Steinitz - Zukertort. Steinitz won 12.5-7.5.

1910, Lasker - Schlechter. That was the final result of a 10-game match.

1954, Botvinnik - Smyslov. The match was drawn 12-12.

1987, Kasparov - Karpov. The match was drawn 12-12.

1990, Kasparov - Karpov. Kasparov won 12.5-11.5.

1995, Kasparov - Anand. Kasparov won 10.5-7.5.


1927, Capablanca - Alekhine. Alekhine won 18.5-15.5.

1951, Botvinnik - Bronstein. The match was drawn 12-12.

1978, Karpov - Korchnoi. Karpov won 16.5-15.5.

1985, Karpov - Kasparov. Kasparov won 13-11.

1986, Kasparov - Karpov. Kasparov won 12.5-11.5.


1889, Steinitz - Chigorin. Steinitz won 10.5-6.5.

1891, Steinitz - Gunsberg. Steinitz won 10.5-8.5.

1934, Alekhine - Bogoljubov. Alekhine won 15.5-10.5.

1935, Alekhine - Euwe. Euwe won 15.5-14.5.

1966, Petrosian - Spassky. Petrosian won 12.5-11.5.

1993, Karpov - Timman. Karpov won 12.5-8.5.


1908, Lasker - Tarrasch. Lasker won 10.5-5.5.

1929, Alekhine - Bogoljubov. Alekhine won 15.5-9.5.

1996, Karpov - Kamsky. Karpov won 10.5-7.5.


1907, Lasker - Marshall. Lasker won 11.5-3.5.

1984, Karpov - Kasparov. The match was stopped with score 25-23.


1981, Karpov - Korchnoi. Karpov won 11-7.

1993, Kasparov - Short. Kasparov won 12.5-7.5.


1897, Lasker - Steinitz. Lasker won 12.5-4.5.


1910, Lasker - Janowski. Lasker won 9.5-1.5.

After 1996, the matches took on the present short format where 10 games constituted more than half of the match.

There were only seven instances when the result of the first 10 games wasn't indicative of the match's final result. Of those seven, three were draws, three more involved the challenger overcoming -1 (Alekhine 1927, Kasparov 1985) or -2 (Euwe 1935) odds, and in the last example, Steinitz overturned a -2 score to defeat Chigorin in 1892.

No match where one player lead 6.5-3.5 or more against the other ever ended with a draw or defeat of the first player. With this in mind, we can only reach one conclusion - should the match be longer, Carlsen would have still won. So, basically, the only thing that could have changed - in a longer match, we would have possibly seen more exciting and interesting games from those two players. This is indeed sad for the chess world, but it still wouldn't have changed the name of the new champion.

Congratulations to Magnus, and let's hope that he pulls "a Karpov" or "a Kasparov" (continues actively playing and winning tournaments) rather than "a Fischer" (everybody knows what that was).


  • 3 years ago


    A 10 game championship match is laughable. I thought the Kasparov – Kramnik match in 2000 with only 16 games wasn’t much better. I like the 24 game set up or the first to 6 wins. 10 games is not much of a match to me.

  • 3 years ago


    The funny thing is, if they used the old Neustadtl score for tie-breaks (full score of an opponent for each win, and half the score for each draw), Kramnik would finish ahead of Carlsen. Kramnik's tie-break score is 57.75, while Carlsen's is 56.25.

  • 3 years ago


    And a more entertaining championship? How do you even know that? With Kramnik, Anand i would see a lot more draws and a tiebreak. At least Carlsen won with 2 games left to spare. 

  • 3 years ago



    Magnus did not get lucky with tiebreaks. Magnus had 5 wins and Vladamir had 4. Thats not lucky, Carlsen had a slightly better outcome than Kramnik, how is that luck? 

  • 3 years ago


    In reality, if Magnus didn't get lucky on tiebreaks, we would have had Vladmir Kramnik playing which would have been a much more interesting world championship. 

  • 3 years ago


    Actually, the only thing they need to do is to abolish tie-break. 

  • 3 years ago


    what if anand didn't misclick in game 9

  • 3 years ago


    Well, there are very many "what if's" in the World Championship tournament history. Here's a list off the top of my head:

    What if Chigorin didn't blunder into a mate when he led 9-8 against Steinitz in 1892?

    What if Tarrasch did accept Steinitz' challenge in the early 1890s?

    What if Lasker actually played some World Championship matches between 1897 and 1907, against, say, Pillsbury, Janowski or Maroczy in their prime?

    What if Janowski didn't blunder in San Sebastian 1911, allowing Capablanca to win their game and the tournament and ascend to prominence?

    What if WWI began later and Lasker did play Rubinstein?

    What if Capablanca gave title shots to Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch or Spielmann?

    What if Alekhine allowed Capablanca the return match?

    What if WWII began later and Alekhine did play Flohr?

    What if Keres did accept Alekhine World Championship challenge during the WWII?

    What if Alekhine didn't die so soon and Botvinnik did play him in 1946?

    What if Boleslavsky did join Bronstein as a challenger in a triple World Championship tournament against Botvinnik in 1951?

    What if Keres just once came ahead of Smyslov, Tal or Petrosian in Candidates' tournaments and played Botvinnik for World Championship?

    What if Fischer became a World Champion earlier, defeating Botvinnik or Petrosian, not Spassky?

    What if Karpov actually played Fischer in 1975?

    What if Korchnoi never defected from USSR (with or without Karpov playing Fischer in 1975)?

    What if Korchnoi didn't insist on playing when FIDE tried to disqualify Kasparov in 1983?

    What if Karpov did win that first 1984 match?

    What if Kasparov lost any of his subsequent matches with Karpov?

    The list could go on and on.

  • 3 years ago


    It seemed a good format.  The best chess player won, there can be no doubt about that.  What I do find 'interesting' is how close Carlsen came to being eliminated in the Challenger's Tournament --- had Kramnik won (and he came very close (scary close for Carlsen fans)); it would have been a whole different story.  It is 'good' for chess that the number one ranked player is also the champion ... not often that it works out like that.

  • 3 years ago


    way too short.


    that's what she said..

  • 3 years ago



    On the other hand, Anand could perhaps win one or two games, since Magnus would feel much more comfortable with his lead. But catching up? Impossible.

  • 3 years ago


    Karpov did, and Korchnoi did against him, and Smyslov did so against Botvinnik (but still didn't win)... but it was either long after (Karpov, Korchnoi) or before (Smyslov) game 10.

    There were even two instances of overcoming -3 advantage and winning - Euwe pulled that trick against Alekhine in 1935, and Steinitz defeated Zukertort after suffering 4 straight losses in games 2-5 in 1886. Still, at the game 10, they weren't trailing 3.5-6.5 or more.

  • 3 years ago


    Karpov overcame a -3 deficit to catch Kasparov once as well. ( In three consecutive games) Though he still lost that match, too.

  • 3 years ago


    wats a fischer

  • 3 years ago


    Perhaps the return of "most-wins" match is in sight? Play for, like, 4 wins, with some rule preventing the quick draws. This way, even after -3 score, anyone still has a chance to recover.

  • 3 years ago


    The shorter the match the greater the chances the stronger player does not win. 10 games was sufficient to prove that Carlsen was the better player, but with more evenly matched opponents I think you need at least 16 games, preferably 18. Another drawback of shorter matches is they tend to stifle more aggressive play.

  • 3 years ago


    I'm not sure this analysis works out very well statistically (though it does work if we consider that the result is indicative of Carlsen being the much stronger player).

    When the matches get shorter, it changes the strategic profile of the games.  Being down (for instance) 3.5-4.5 in a ten match game means you need to win right now, but in a twenty match game it means you just need to stay calm.

  • 3 years ago


    in Fischer's mindset once you were champion winning did not

    improve your position in "the WORLD" so all he could ever do 

    was draw or lose and only a moron would play under that

    circumstance....but he was nuts

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