All tied up… again

The 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship is underway in the city of Astana, Kazakhstan, where Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren continue their battle for the title of World Chess Champion.

Ding Liren securing victory in Game 6 means the players are now tied on 2 points each, with 8 rounds to go. Nepo currently has a 52.7% chance of winning, and Ding Liren a 47.3% chance. Nepo will have the white pieces for game 7, and the world be watching impatiently to see how he responds to his second defeat of the match.

Predictions and Probabilities

My pre-match predictions said that Nepomniachtchi held a slight edge, with a 53% chance of winning. The probability of the match proceeding to tiebreaks was at 17%. Now, Nepo has a 51% chance of winning, and a 17.5% chance of going to tiebreaks.

The Method Behind the Predictions

To calculate these predictions, I primarily employed my usual methodology, but given the significance of this event, I went the extra mile. I developed a model specifically tailored to predicting outcomes in world championship matches. For those interested in the technical aspects, I fine-tuned my customary LightGBM model to better predict world championship games. The fine-tuning process revealed that such games are more likely to end in a draw.

Individual Game Model Predictions

When Nepomniachtchi plays white, he has a 24.1% chance of winning, a 60.4% chance of a draw, and a 15.5% chance of Ding Liren emerging victorious. Conversely, when Ding Liren plays white, he has a 21.5% chance of winning, a 62.8% chance of a draw, and a 15.7% chance of Nepomniachtchi winning.

Fine-Tuned Model Differences

The primary difference between the fine-tuned model and the standard model is the slightly elevated draw rate. For instance, when Nepo is white, the draw rate increases from 57.2% to 60.4% in the fine-tuned model. Nepo’s win rate decreases from 25.9% to 24.1%, while Ding Liren’s win rate drops from 16.8% to 15.5%.

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