Norway Chess Round 5 Update

Veselin Topalov has remained red hot, winning his games in both the fourth and fifth rounds at Norway Chess 2015. Given that former co-leader Hikaru Nakamura has merely drawn his own games over these last two rounds, Topalov now holds a commanding full point lead in the tournament standings, with just four games left to play. Regardless of whether or not we consider this run “lucky“, the results count. In addition to being the clear favorite to win this event (now with a 77% chance of doing so, per our model), he is also now ranked #2 in the world with a live rating of 2816.3 (within a point of his lifetime best). Furthermore, we now see him as a strong favorite to win the broader Grand Chess Tour, with a 37% chance of doing so.

While Topalov is the tremendous favorite to win the event, here are the current odds for all the other players as well, there are a couple players not yet eliminated from contention:

Player Pre-Event Odds Odds After Rd 5
Veselin Topalov 7.8% 77.0%
Hikaru Nakamura 10.6% 11.1%
Viswanathan Anand 11.4% 7.2%
Anish Giri 6.2% 4.3%
Fabiano Caruana 9.7% 0.2%
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 1.5% 0.1%
Alexander Grischuk 5.3% 0.1%
Magnus Carlsen 41.9% 0.0%
Levon Aronian 5.3% 0.0%
Jon Ludvig Hammer 0.2% 0.0%

Note that although Magnus Carlsen did finally win his first game this round, it’s clearly too little too late and there’s no realistic chance of him coming all the way back to win (although technically it’s not impossible… out of a million simulations of the remaining rounds we actually saw him win outright 11 times, and tie for first another 758 times.)

Here is a graph of each player’s victory odds on a round by round basis, to show how convincingly Topalov has been separating himself from the field:


And then of course there are ramifications for the broader Grand Chess Tour. Topalov became the new favorite to win the overall GCT title after round 4, and only extended his lead in that chase with today’s win. Carlsen, who had been the massive favorite before this tournament started, fell from first to third after round 4, but rebounded back to second with today’s win. Here are each player’s current projected odds of winning the Grand Chess Tour:

Player Pre-Event After Rd 5
Veselin Topalov 4.4% 36.9%
Magnus Carlsen 68.1% 21.4%
Hikaru Nakamura 6.9% 17.9%
Viswanathan Anand 7.1% 13.4%
Anish Giri 2.4% 5.2%
Fabiano Caruana 6.3% 3.2%
Alexander Grischuk 2.4% 1.0%
Levon Aronian 2.3% 0.8%
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 0.2% 0.2%

And here is the round by round graph:



3 thoughts on “Norway Chess Round 5 Update

  1. Indeed, Topalov’s run of borrowed time until now is amazing. I did not expect from him this much for two logical reasons: inactivity (~4 mos) and advanced age. I will consider it extended luck if he gets over 50% from the remaining 4 games then win Norway Chess 2015!

    In terms of the GCT overall, Topalov is a long shot. The other two legs (Sinquefield and London) are stronger tournaments, i.e., all the players are 2700 above. Besides, just like in GP, I expect these elite GMs to give it their best in the last legs to covet the bonus $$$ of the overall tour placings.


    • Hard to call him a long shot when he’ll have a big point lead over all but a couple competitors (and a small lead over them) at the one-third mark of the Grand Chess Tour.

      If you feel that his current rating is above his “true” playing strength (which it could well be) then his GCT odds won’t be as high as our model spits out, but I think it’s hard to argue that the winner of the first leg is the overall favorite; that’s a huge edge in a field of players who are mostly all relatively similarly rated – except Carlsen of course, but he’s going to have a huge amount of ground to try to make up on Topalov.


  2. With the last round over in Norway Chess 2015, the firmer I say (without being disrespectful but just straightforwardly frankful) that Topalov was simply very LUCKY! He is a great woodpusher and a former world champion. But his half-point lead could have easily vaporized had any one of those Almighty favours bequethed to him flipped, e.g, Naka missing the win over MVL, OR Topalov’s double luck versus the Norwegians and Grischuk, OR Anand not playing hard on the final round, etc, etc.

    As 2014 was for Caruana, the year 2015 is churning as Naka year. As I’ve said here in ChessNumbers about a month ago, Naka is worth 2810+, and indeed he made it here in Norway. I believe he can maintain his top form for years just like Aronian did it in 2010-2015.

    Naka can even be a WC Challenger thu’ I don’t think he can beat Magnus. That accolade is reserved only to one amongst Caruana, Wesley, and later, Wei Yi.


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