Chess Betting Odds: Magnus Carlsen Invitational Reaches Semifinal Round, Carlsen Favored

Posted on: April 30, 2020, 07:52h. 

Last updated on: May 1, 2020, 10:15h.

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen remains favored to win his namesake tournament, as the Magnus Carlsen Invitational heads into its semifinal and final rounds this weekend.

Magnus Carlsen Invitational chess betting odds
Magnus Carlsen is one of four players to reach the semifinals of his namesake online chess tournament, the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. (Image: Getty)

Online bookmaker Bwin lists Carlsen as the -152 pick to win the online chess tournament and its $70,000 first prize.

Top Four Ease Into Knockout Rounds

The top four players had already secured their semifinal spots heading into Thursday’s seventh and final round. However, the pairings for the final four remained unclear until after the results of the final round-robin day of play were in.

In the end, it was American Hikaru Nakamura who secured the top seed after defeating French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a tiebreaker game to win his match. Ding Liren defeated Carlsen 3-1 in their match – which featured some unorthodox opening play by the Norwegian – to slot them into the second and third seeds, respectively, while Fabiano Caruana took a 2.5-1.5 loss at the hands of Anish Giri to fall to fourth place.

That means the Americans will meet on Friday in the first semifinal. Nakamura – a noted blitz and rapid chess specialist – comes in as the -250 favorite over Caruana (+175), who is ranked second in the world in classical chess, but doesn’t rank nearly as highly in the faster forms of the game.  

The second semifinal comes on Saturday, where Ding and Carlsen will play a rematch of their Round 7 encounter. While the Chinese grandmaster got the best of that encounter, oddsmakers still see Carlsen as a -250 favorite over Ding (+175), largely because of the fact that he holds the rapid and blitz world championships to go along with his classical title.

COVID-19 Shutdowns Inspire Magnus Carlsen Invitational

The Magnus Carlsen Invitational was designed to fill the void in competitive chess because of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the Candidates Tournament to select a challenger for the next World Chess Champion began in Russia, and was even seen as a welcome event for bookmakers worldwide – including William Hill in Nevada. However, organizers stopped the tournament halfway through the event, as travel bans threatened the ability for players and staff to return to their home countries.

With no tournaments on the horizon during the COVI-19 shutdown, Carlsen worked with chess site to create his invitational tournament. Eight of the world’s top players have competed for a $250,000 prize pool, the largest purse ever for an online tournament.

The four players who failed to make the semifinals are still walking away with some serious cash. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave earned $15,000 for finishing eighth, while Ian Nepomniachtchi banked $22,500 for his fifth-place finish.

The final four competitors are each guaranteed at least $30,000. The winner will take home $70,000, while the runner-up will secure $45,000. Outside of Carlsen, oddsmakers see Ding (+400) as the biggest threat to win the tournament, ahead of Nakamura (+400) and Caruana (+700).