The rematch starts in November, but it is by no means obvious that the champion Carlsen is favored. Anand is separated from his Indian well-wishers and relatives (which helps him), he has been playing well lately, and he feels he has nothing to lose at this point. It is often easier to win a rematch than to defend a championship.
Carlsen’s play has been listless as of late. Yet he has two factors going for him. First, he is a better player than Anand, a factor which is obviously important, and second he is younger and has better stamina.
Carlsen suffers from having to play in Sochi, which is basically a KGB village with extreme surveillance. Any chess innovation which he speaks to his seconds in his hotel room or leaves on his hard drive will end up being distributed to the camp of his opponent. That also will hurt his morale and make it hard for him to concentrate on the match. Like many others, I was surprised he agreed to play in Sochi in the first place. I think he also suffers from this match coming so quickly after the first. He feels he hasn’t had enough time to enjoy the promised benefits of the world championship, not all of those benefits were delivered, and in a sense the first match still isn’t over but rather has been extended.
Chess often brings surprises, I am forecasting Carlsen to fall behind in the match early on, but successfully defend his title at the end.