Fabiano Caruana was already favored to finish in the top two of the final Grand Prix standings before this event began. Our model put him at 71% to earn one of the two available spots in the 2016 Candidates Tournament. Then he went and won his games in rounds 3 and 4, jumping out to sole possession of first place as we reach the first rest day. Now he’s an even more prohibitive favorite! Not only do we now have Caruana at 93% to finish in the top two of the final standings, we have him at 45% to do it in the most domininating way possible: by winning this final leg outright!
Meanwhile, none of the “other contenders” and “longshots” have done anything in these first four rounds to improve their own chances of finishing in the final top two. This means that what initially looked like it might be a three-man race for two qualifying spots is now turning into a two-man race for one spot. All the drama of the final seven rounds appears likely to come from Nakamura and Tomashevsky competing for the one available berth in the Candidates Tournament that is not firmly held by Caruana.
In this race for second place (in the overall standings), Tomashevsky has the edge because he entered this final leg with a strong 45 point lead in the standings. Nakamura is favored to make up some of this ground as the event progresses, because of his higher rating, but time is on Tomashevsky’s side. Every round that passes with the two still tied with each other improves Tomashevsky’s chances. In sports terms, he’s the underdog with the lead trying to run out the clock to complete the upset. And at this point we consider him a favorite to do so – but it’s close! Nakamura has drawn his first four games and needs some wins (and/or some Tomashevsky losses) to reach his goal, but there’s plenty of time for that to happen. It could easily come down to the final round.
Here are our current projections for each player’s odds of finishing in the top two of the final Grand Prix standings, with a new twist. Are now listing each player’s score at Khanty-Mansiysk (the Grand Prix points they would earn if the event ended today) and their “current total” includes these values. If every game in the last 7 rounds is drawn, and nothing changes, these would be the final Grand Prix standings. Of course that is unlikely to happen. Chess tournament standings are almost always more heavily bunched up early on than in the end. The current standings will presumably spread out further, and that’s what the odds reflect. The table is still sorted by odds of qualifying, rather than by the actual standings:
|Player||Live Rating||Baku||Tashkent||Tbilisi||Khanty-Mansiysk||CURRENT TOTAL||ODDS (PRE K-M)||ODDS (CURRENT)|
|Fabiano Caruana (ITA)||2809.5||155||75||170||400||71%||93%|
|Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)||2749.3||82||170||70||322||52%||55%|
|Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||2796.7||82||125||70||277||49%||40%|
|Boris Gelfand (ISR)||2744.7||155||15||70||240||7%||5%|
|Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||2753.3||82||75||70||227||8%||5%|
|Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||2741.9||30||140||25||195||9%||2%|
|Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||2782.1||82||40||70||192||3%||1%|
|Anish Giri (NED)||2770.1||40||75||25||140||1%||0.2%|
|Peter Svidler (RUS)||2743.2||82||20||125||227||0.1%||0.2%|
|Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||2737.9||75||40||25||140||1%||0.1%|
|Baadur Jobava (GEO)||2697.1||75||40||25||140||0.2%||0.02%|
|Leinier Dominguez (CUB)||2744.3||10||75||125||210||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%|
As for the current event (setting the bigger picture aside), Caruana is on the verge of running away with things, with a better than 50% chance of at least tying for first place:
|Player||K-M Expected Score||Odds of Clear 1st||(Pre-Event Odds)|
|Fabiano Caruana (ITA)||142||45%||17%|
|Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||92||7%||14%|
|Leinier Dominguez (CUB)||88||5%||2%|
|Peter Svidler (RUS)||87||5%||2%|
|Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||80||4%||11%|
|Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||73||3%||5%|
|Boris Gelfand (ISR)||62||2%||3%|
|Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)||66||1%||3%|
|Anish Giri (NED)||60||1%||7%|
|Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||47||0.4%||3%|
|Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||43||0.3%||3%|
|Baadur Jobava (GEO)||29||0.1%||1%|
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next few rounds. It’s possible that one of Tomashevsky or Nakamura will pull away, Caruana will continue to dominate, and everything will be almost fully decided by the second rest day. It’s also possible that Nakamura will build a small but indecisive lead (maybe half a point or so) over Tomashevsky, while Caruana falls apart and loses a few games, and Karjakin or Gelfand goes on a tear with a few wins, and all of a sudden it’s a four man race coming down to the wire!
The former scenario is more likely, but the latter could still happen. From a fan’s perspective I’m rooting for the latter, it would certainly be a lot more fun! The players get tomorrow off, and then they’ll be back for round 5 and we’ll continue to see how things shake out.