Colorado Allows All Sorts Of Props On Upcoming Chess World Championship

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Colorado has long been considered one of the states on the very cutting edge of regulated sports betting, thanks to its statutory framework creating a robust open market. That friendliness to the industry can also be seen on the state’s approved betting events list.

Late last month, Colorado gaming regulators approved wagering on chess, including a bunch of props that chess fans will love. The likes of Indiana, Tennessee, New Jersey, Illinois, and Michigan don’t currently allow any chess wagering at the moment, so Colorado is ahead of the curve.

Colorado allowed wagering on the upcoming 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship, which will pit reigning champion Magnus Carlsen, one of the game’s legends, against longtime friendly rival Ian Nepomniachtchi. Carlsen, the highest rated player in history, is a substantial favorite against Nepomniachtchi, ranked No. 4 in the world. The tournament is set for Nov. 24-Dec. 16.

Colorado is giving sportsbooks the option to offer much more than the moneyline on who will be the champion when the dust settles after what could be a marathon match.

Here’s a look at the other options:

  • To go to Armageddon (basically the chess version of sudden death)
  • Correct score (of the match)
  • Number of moves made by white (individual games)
  • First move (individual games, presumably)
  • Winner (individual games)
  • Game to end in a draw by repetition
  • Game to end in a checkmate on the board
  • To have a pawn promoted (individual games, presumably)
  • Last piece to be captured (individual games, presumably)

Some of those props might be a little complicated for people not familiar with the game of chess, but they will give chess aficionados tons of fun when the 2021 World Chess Championship match rolls around in late November. It’s set to be held in Dubai.

Odds for the match

The pair will play a best-of-14-game match, with shorter time controls in the tiebreakers if it’s even after the classical game part of the high-stakes battle.

While Colorado sportsbooks have yet to post their odds on the match, some books outside of the United States already have. Carlsen is a -350 favorite, with his challenger listed as a +230 underdog. The implied odds are nearly 78% for the Norwegian and about 30% for the Russian.

Based on rating alone, Carlsen is figured to be greater than an 80% favorite, according to an analysis of the odds by Chess.com. Carlsen could have slight value if Colorado’s books price their moneyline at -350 for the champion. Closer to -300 would be a nicer price, though.

Nepomniachtchi, who is 30 years old just like Carlsen, is known for being relatively unpredictable over the board, and he does have a very slight winning record lifetime against Carlsen, so perhaps -350 doesn’t have any value. Still, some of the all-time greats in the game have long predicted that Carlsen won’t be dethroned by anyone older than him (Nepomniachtchi is older by a few months).

Carlsen has been world champion since 2013.

Luckily for chess fans who are interested in wagering, the props provide other options than just wagering on the outright winner. Chess players are generally pretty shrewd, so the moneyline might be avoided.

The timeline for Colorado’s sportsbooks posting odds isn’t known, but it should be closer to when the event starts. The chess markets likely wouldn’t get much attention months in advance.

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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