Magnus Carlsen Can Still Win Norway Chess 2015

Magnus Carlsen has had a near unprecedented poor start to the 2015 edition of Norway Chess, with only 0.5 points after the first three games and 2 points behind joint leaders Topalov and Nakamura. However, that does not mean that he is without chances of winning. At TATA-Steel he won 6 games in a row, and pulling that off again should certainly put him back in contention.

In order to quantify his chances of pulling off another win, we made a very simple model to simulate the win chances. Compared to Grenke Chess, instead of building a complicated model, I simply added white’s advantage (37 rating points) to the white player current live rating and used chess-db.com to find the probability of each game. Subsequently, I simulated each game 10 000 times to see what the final outcome would be.

Carlsen’s chance of pulling of 6 wins in a row: 0.42%

That doesn’t necessarily mean that he will win the tournament though, nor does it mean that he has to win all 6 games in order to win. Below is a summary of the likely outcomes based on this simple model:

Each player's probability of winning Norway Chess after three rounds.

Each player’s probability of winning Norway Chess after three rounds.

Topalov is the front runner here, even though he and Nakamura are even at this point. Nakamura plays Carlsen with black in round 6 though, while Topalov has already beaten Carlsen. Magnus Carlsen’s chance of winning it outright is less than 1 %, yet there is more than 1/4 chance that the tournament will be decided in a tie-break, and here lies an additional chance for Carlsen. 2.6% of the time he ends up in a tie-break for first place, which puts him at a total of 3.4% chance of finishing at least tied for most points.

How about his super-tournament streak of finishing first or second? It’s certainly in danger, but based on these calculations he still has roughly 11% chance of finishing in the top 2. Difficult, but not impossible.

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