Some commentators have expressed surprise at the two relatively bland draws to open out the most recent (Carlsen-Karjakin) World Championships. I'm wondering whether there's been any study as to whether 'feeling-out' is a real phenomenon: are draws more likely to happen at the start of a championship match, in the middle, or towards the end? Has any objective research (whether specifically WCC or any high-level chess match play) been done on this?

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I am not aware of a study of this kind, but why not make our own? Let us parse some WCC PGNs!

WCC games results

Fraction of draws by round

To me, this does not seem to have any definite regularities for when a draw is more likely (also note, that at the very high number of rounds, only a few games are available - there have been only a few very long WCC matches).


Recent events only. Looks like more draws overall and slight tendency for more draws towards the end of a match.

WCC games results - post 1985

Fraction of draws by round - post 1985

  • That's for all the world championship matches? Does it change if you look only at recent ones? Nov 14, 2016 at 21:42
  • @user1583209 All except the events where champions were decided in a tournament format (i.e. not a 1v1 match). Also, see my edit. Nov 14, 2016 at 21:52
  • If you want to answer the original question, you should not calculate the fraction of draws per round number, because say in a match of 50 rounds, round number 10 would be the still in the "start" phase, while in a match of 12 rounds it would already be at the end. I believe what you basically should do is to normalize the x-axis (divide by number of total rounds). Nov 14, 2016 at 21:57
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    The >25 games matches are outliers, vast majority of matches are much shorter. Nov 14, 2016 at 22:07
  • I understand that, however you still have matches with between say 12 and 24 games or so. In one case round 12 would be in the end phase and in the other case it would just be in the intermediate phase. When you calculate the "fraction of draws" diagram you basically throw them together which you should not, if you want to answer the question whether there are more draws at the start of a match or at the end, etc. Nov 14, 2016 at 22:51

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