Reigning chess world champion Magnus Carlsen is set to face Ian Nepomniachtchi in November-December in Dubai for the FIDE World Chess Championship, a match that was pushed back from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nepomniachtchi, ranked No. 4 in the world, won the candidates tournament on April 28 to qualify to face off against Carlsen, one of the game’s all-time greats. Carlsen has been world champion since 2013.
While neither man is American, the U.S. is a chess powerhouse, with five players above the 2700-rating mark. Coupled with the so-called chess boom that has happened online in the COVID-19 era, the upcoming world championship match could be of interest to sports bettors.
However, currently only West Virginia allows betting on the match, and it’s just on-site, DraftKings, which operates in the state and 10 others, told US Bets. William Hill in Nevada had started to take bets on chess in 2020, but it currently doesn’t have wagering on the World Championship. There was also chess wagering in New Hampshire on the candidates tournament before it was postponed last year.
It seems like a good bet that as the 12-game title match draws nearer, several states will have legal wagering on it.
Carlsen expected to win
At Bwin in Europe, the Norwegian is a -350 favorite, compared to +230 for the Russian.
According to Chessgames.com, Nepomniachtchi actually has a winning classical game record against Carlsen. Nepomniachtchi is 4-1 against the legend, but they’ve had six draws. Both men are 30 years old.
Despite the record, Carlsen is the clear-cut favorite, according to experts. Former world champion Garry Kasparov recently said in an interview that Carlsen is the favorite, though he wouldn’t say what kind of odds he’d put on the match. Handicapping could be hard.
The two grandmasters have trained together and, according to Kasparov, that inserts an unknown dynamic into the match that could benefit either player. Nepomniachtchi also is considered a threat in the tie-breaks.
This photograph by Misha Friedman shows Ian Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen working together during the training camp in Kragerø in August 2013, for the Norwegian’s world title match against Vishy Anand. Eight years later, they get to face each other in a match of their own. pic.twitter.com/kgWzsOXkDP
— Olimpiù G. Urcan (@olimpiuurcan) May 2, 2021
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