The first round of the final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix saw two Russians draw first blood. Tomashevsky and Jakovenko dispatched of their opponents (Jobava and Giri) while the other four games ended up drawn.
How much does one game matter? In some cases, quite a lot! First, let us look at each player’s updated expected score for this event (remember that players earn Grand Prix points based on their finish – the listed value is the average points earned over 50,000 simulations) as well as each players current and pre-tournament odds of winning this event outright (which would be worth 170 Grand Prix points!)
|Player||K-M Expected Score||Odds of Clear 1st||Pre-Event Odds|
|Fabiano Caruana (ITA)||99||14%||17%|
|Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||98||13%||14%|
|Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||89||9%||3%|
|Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||88||9%||11%|
|Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)||86||8%||3%|
|Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||72||4%||5%|
|Boris Gelfand (ISR)||63||3%||3%|
|Leinier Dominguez (CUB)||63||3%||2%|
|Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||63||3%||3%|
|Peter Svidler (RUS)||61||2%||2%|
|Anish Giri (NED)||61||2%||7%|
|Baadur Jobava (GEO)||28||0%||1%|
We can see that one decisive result makes a big difference! The two winners saw their chances of finishing this 11 round event at the top rise from 3% each all the way to 8% for Tomashevsky and 9% for Jakovenko! These gains came largely at the expense of the players they beat, especially Giri who’s rating had originally given him a 7% chance of winning, but after his opening stumble now only projects to win 2% of the time. Also seeing their odds drop noticeably are the original favorites, but mostly players who drew today saw little change in their expected results.
What about the overall Grand Prix standings, which matter more due to their implications for the 2016 World Championship Cycle? Today’s winners saw large gains there as well!
|Player||Live Rating||Baku||Tashkent||Tbilisi||Khanty-Mansiysk||CURRENT TOTAL||ODDS (PRE K-M)||ODDS (CURRENT)|
|Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)||2753.3||82||170||x||252||52%||65%|
|Fabiano Caruana (ITA)||2802.0||155||75||x||230||71%||61%|
|Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||2798.7||82||125||x||207||49%||44%|
|Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||2751.9||30||140||x||170||9%||16%|
|Boris Gelfand (ISR)||2744.1||155||15||x||170||7%||7%|
|Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||2753.6||82||75||x||157||8%||6%|
|Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||2784.0||82||40||x||122||3%||2%|
|Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||2742.6||75||40||x||115||1%||0.3%|
|Anish Giri (NED)||2770.5||40||75||x||115||1%||0.3%|
|Peter Svidler (RUS)||2736.8||82||20||x||102||0.1%||0.1%|
|Baadur Jobava (GEO)||2694.6||75||40||x||115||0.2%||0.03%|
|Leinier Dominguez (CUB)||2738.0||10||75||x||85||0%||0%|
|Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)||2735.0||35||125||75||235||0%||0%|
|Teimour Radjabov (AZE)||2738.0||50||50||110||210||0%||0%|
|Dmitry Andreikin (RUS)||2717.9||20||170||10||200||0%||0%|
|Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB)||2703.8||35||15||75||125||0%||0%|
We can see that Tomashevsky, who entered this event with the lead but was an underdog to maintain it based on his lower rating than second place Fabiano Caruana, improved his chances from 52% up to 65%, a gain of 13 percentage points, and is now officially our model’s favorite, as well as being the current leader! Jakovenko also improved, seeing his chances rise from 9% to 16%. While he’s still quite a bit less likely to finish in the top two and earn a Candidates Tournament berth than the three original favorites, he’s definitely making a statement with this first victory that he can’t be counted out. With another win he’ll certainly find himself grouped with the “favorites”, rather the “other contenders” where we put him before the event began.
Of course for two players to improve their odds so much, other players must have seen their chances drop, since the total of all odds must equal 200% (not 100%, since there are two spots up for grabs). In this case, it wasn’t the players who lost that suffered the most, since their odds of reaching the top two were already slim. Instead it was the leaders. Caruana’s odds of a top-two finish dropped to 61%, the first time in a long while that our simulation has not pegged him as the favorite. He does still have the golden parachute of his high rating though; if he fails to finish top two he’ll most likely still qualify for the Candidates Tournament based on his high rating. Nakamura’s third-best odds also dropped, to 44% from 49%, which could be a concern since unlike Caruana, he is not particularly likely to get to the Candidates Tournament any other way than through the Grand Prix. Yes, he’ll get a shot at the World Cup, and yes he has an outside chance of a ratings qualification, but his alternate path is much tougher.
So what can we expect tomorrow? Here is our model’s predicted odds of each possible result in tomorrow’s six games:
Gelfand – Nakamura
18.6% white win – 58.5% draw – 22.8% black win
Our model says Nakamura’s ratings edge is bigger than the value of the white pieces. Nakamura can probably afford a draw, but a loss would be disastrous and probably drop his odds of reaching the Candidates Tournament down into the 20% range, especially if Tomashevsky, Caruana, and/or Jakovenko picked up wins. On the flip side, if Gelfand did beat Naka, that would probably put him back in the conversation as a potential Candidate, obviously improving his current odds which sit at 7%.
Giri – Karjakin
31% – 54% – 15%
When the higher rated player also has white, the model will like his chances. This game appears to be less important than some to the overall standings, although if Karjakin pulled off the upset win with black that would probably raise his odds of a top two finish up to double digits from his current 6%. Giri would need to do a lot more than just win this one game before he was back in serious contention though.
Dominguez – Jakovenko
25% – 57.4% – 17.6%
Jakovenko made a strong statement in round 1. If he could move to a 2/2 score with another win in round 2 then he would definitely see his odds shoot up a ton! In his favor is the relatively easy pairing against Dominguez (a very strong player of course, but still the third lowest rated player in the field). Working against him, though, is the black pieces which are enough of a disadvantage that we have Dominguez as the favorite in this game.
Svidler – Caruana
18% – 57% – 25%
Like Nakamura, Caruana also has to handle the black pieces, but has a large enough rating edge to nevertheless be the favorite. He’d probably be content with a draw, especially as long as neither Nakamura or Tomashevsky win their games, but if Fabiano was able to win this one it would likely drive his qualifying odds back up towards the 70% range.
Tomashevsky – Grischuk
22% – 59% – 19%
Being the only one among the top four contenders to get the white pieces is nice for Tomashvesky, who would love to win another game and clearly state that he doesn’t just plan to finish in the top two, he intends to win a second straight leg outright! Standing in his way, however, is the 6th highest rated player in the world – a formidable obstacle – and a draw would probably be a perfectly fine result for Tomashevsky.
Vachiere-Lagrave – Jobava
37% – 51% – 12%
The least meaningful game of the round also features the most lopsided model prediction. Nothing surprising here, as we have the lowest rated player in the field with the black pieces.
How will our model’s predictions fare? What surprises will round 2 have in store for us? We’ll find out in under 12 hours!