World Cup Results: Day 1

The World Cup kicked off today, with the first (of two) classical games being played in each of the 64 mini-matches that comprise the first round. We have updated our model with the results of today’s games, and with all the players’ new ratings, and recalculated our probabilistic odds of the results.

We will run through all 64 results, and how today’s game impacted each player’s chances of advancing to the next round, but to keep things a little more clear we will divide the results into several categories.

Top Seed Wins First Game:

In 26 games, the higher seed won the game. These players are all now clear favorites to advance (even in the few cases where they weren’t before). Colors don’t matter too much when you’re up 1-0 and higher rated, a win or a draw will suffice to advance without tie breaks, and even a loss can be survived as the higher seeds should also be favorites in tie breaks if it does reach that point. Nevertheless, you might notice that players who won as black today have slightly better odds than similarly seeded players who won as white, because of course they have the added benefit of the white pieces tomorrow when they attempt to clinch the round. Here are those 26 victorious players, their NEW odds of advancing to round 2, how much their odds IMPROVED with the win, what color they won with today, and who they defeated:

Seed Player Odds to Advance Improvement G1 Color Opponent
1  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 100.0% 0.1% W  Oladapo Adu IM (NGR)
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 100.0% 0.1% B  Richmond Phiri IM (ZAM)
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 100.0% 0.2% W  Amir Zaibi FM (TUN)
5  Wesley So (USA) 99.8% 2.0% W  Parham Maghsoodloo untitled (IRI)
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 100.0% 1.2% B  Deysi Cori T. WGM (PER)
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 100.0% 1.5% B  Tomas Krnan IM (CAN)
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 99.9% 1.6% W  Michael Wiedenkeller IM (LUX)
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 99.6% 3.6% W  Ermes Espinoza Veloz FM (CUB)
14  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 99.5% 6.1% B  Max Illingworth  IM (AUS)
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 99.3% 7.9% B  Emre Can (TUR)
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 98.4% 9.8% W  Pouya Idani (IRI)
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 98.6% 8.6% W  Isan Reynaldo Ortiz Suárez (CUB)
22  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 98.4% 13.5% B  Viorel Iordachescu (MDA)
23  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 97.6% 13.9% W  Ahmed Adly (EGY)
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 98.0% 15.2% B  Salem Saleh (UAE)
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 97.6% 17.1% B  Rinat Jumabayev (KAZ)
27  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 97.1% 16.1% W  Zhou Jianchao (CHN)
29  Peter Leko (HUN) 96.8% 17.6% W  Aleksey Goganov (RUS)
33  Wang Hao (CHN) 96.6% 18.4% W  Milos Perunovic (SRB)
38  Anton Korobov (UKR) 96.3% 24.3% B  Dragan Solak (TUR)
45  Vladislav Artemiev (RUS) 92.3% 34.0% W  Surya Shekhar Ganguly (IND)
48  Ilia Smirin (ISR) 94.3% 35.3% B  Romain Édouard (FRA)
49  Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (GER) 94.4% 27.3% W  David Anton Guijarro (ESP)
53  Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE) 87.8% 38.9% W  Robert Kempinski (POL)
56  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR) 94.1% 36.5% B  Denis Khismatullin (RUS)
63  Sam Shankland (USA) 83.6% 41.9% W  Ivan Popov (RUS)

Notice, of course, that as we go lower on this list, the odds of advancing get lower, because the rating advantages shrink and there is increasing risk of a loss tomorrow to force tie breaks. As for the players that lost these games, they can of course all be categorized as having lost to a stronger player, now unlikely to survive to reach round two, must win tomorrow to stay alive. We will leave it as an exercise for the reader to calculate their exact chances of survival by subtracting from 100%.

Underdog Wins First Game:

In addition to the 26 victors above, there were 10 additional decisive games. These 10 underdogs have greatly improved their chances of ultimately advancing to the next round by jumping out to a 1-0 lead. They can now reach round two with either a win or a draw tomorrow, and if they lose it’s not an elimination as they would still get another shot in the tie break round. All but one of these players are now favorites to advance:

Seed Player Odds to Advance Improvement G1 Color Opponent
67  Rauf Mamedov (AZE) 88.2% 38.5% W  Evgeniy Najer (RUS)
74  Bassem Amin (EGY) 89.9% 54.7% B  Ivan Saric (CRO)
78  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 91.6% 47.8% B  Sanan Sjugirov (RUS)
82  Hrant Melkumyan (ARM) 87.9% 57.2% B  Gata Kamsky (USA)
88  Yuri Vovk (UKR) 89.1% 56.8% B  Ray Robson (USA)
89  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 76.4% 44.9% W  Maxim Matlakov (RUS)
93  Wen Yang (CHN) 70.1% 44.6% W  Igor Kovalenko (LAT)
97  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 66.6% 43.9% W  Alexander Moiseenko (UKR)
99  Sandro Mareco (ARG) 63.5% 42.9% W  Ni Hua (CHN)
111  Federico Perez Ponsa (ARG) 48.8% 37.6% W  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB)

Here we see much larger numbers in the improvement column, as these players entered today as underdogs to advance, and were not expected to score even this first win. As such today’s victory meant a major gain in their chances (and a correspondingly major hit to their opponent’s hopes).

Top Seed Draws as Black:

Our formulas show that in this format a game one draw benefits the player who was black as long as the rating difference is 104 or less. Many players appear to approach this event with a strategy of trying to draw their classical game as black, then trying to win as white. It’s a reasonable approach, especially for favored players. Large favorites (those who out-rate their opponent by more than 104) do see their odds of ultimate victory (by advancing to round two) drop a little if they only draw the first game, but since they start out very likely to advance they remain in good shape after a draw with the black pieces. Smaller favorites see their odds of advancing actually increase just with the draw (although sure, if they managed to win as black it would be better – but a loss would be disastrous).

Here are the 15 players who “held serve” today over their lower seeded opponent (color is not listed on this table because all these players had the black pieces):

Seed Player Odds to Advance Improvement/Loss Opponent
4  Anish Giri (NED) 99.2% -0.5%  Arthur Ssegwanyi IM (UGA)
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 93.5% -2.2%  Ilia Iljiushenok IM (RUS)
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 93.5% -2.2%  Ziaur Rahman (BAN)
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 88.0% -1.6%  M.R. Lalith Babu (IND)
28  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 81.6% -1.2%  Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (ARM)
34  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 75.9% 0.5%  Zhao Jun (CHN)
42  Maxim Rodshtein (ISR) 66.7% 2.5%  Eduardo Iturrizaga (VEN)
44  Gabriel Sargissian (ARM) 70.4% 1.7%  Mateusz Bartel (POL)
46  Hou Yifan (CHN) 66.7% 2.8%  Rafael Leitao (BRA)
50  Viktor Laznicka (CZE) 67.0% 2.4%  Varuzhan Akobian (USA)
52  Julio Granda (PER) 67.5% 2.3%  Alexandr Fier (BRA)
54  Alexander Onischuk (USA) 62.6% 4.3%  Andrei Volokitin (UKR)
58  Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS) 50.8% 6.3%  Baskaran Adhiban (IND)
60  Csaba Balogh (HUN) 56.4% 5.6%  Eltaj Safarli (AZE)
64  Ivan Bukavshin (RUS) 56.0% 5.7%  Sergei Zhigalko (BLR)

Note that the top five players on this chart had a large enough ratings edge that they could perhaps view today’s draw as an “upset” of sorts, particularly Giri at the top who lost 4.2 rating points for his failure to win. However that same ratings edge that makes the draw surprising also makes them huge favorites tomorrow with the white pieces, and all five remain 80% or better favorites to advance – much better in Giri’s case. The rest of the players on this list made their path forward easier with today’s draw, including Fedoseev who is actually rated a fair amount lower than his lower-seeded opponent in the current live ratings, but is now the slight favorite thanks to gains from today’s draw.

Top Seed Draws as White:

Finally we have the last 13 results. These games were also drawn, but it was more of an “upset” because the higher seed had the white pieces in these contests. Notice in the “Lost Odds” column, where we show the player’s reduced odds of advancing to the next round. These draws were much more of a problem for the favorite than the draws with black that we highlighted in the last section. In fact at the bottom, three of these players are now underdogs! For lower rated players (listed on this chart as “opponents”) trying to draw the first game with black is also a good strategy. They’re probably not going to win two games, so better to try to capture that upset opportunity just once, in the game where they play white!

Seed Player Odds to Advance Lost Odds Opponent
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 94.4% -4.1%  Yusup Atabayev IM (TKM)
13  Boris Gelfand (ISR) 87.8% -6.3%  Cristobal Villagra Henriquez  IM (CHI)
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 86.0% -6.9%  Mariya Muzychuk (UKR)
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 83.0% -7.1%  Samuel Sevian (USA)
25  David Navara (CZE) 77.8% -7.0%  Tamir Nabaty (ISR)
31  Laurent Fressinet (FRA) 72.8% -6.6%  Ante Brkic (CRO)
35  Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB) 69.4% -6.8%  Anton Kovalyov (CAN)
37  Le Quang Liem (VIE) 67.5% -6.8%  Vasif Durarbayli (AZE)
39  Ivan Cheparinov (BUL) 61.8% -7.0%  Alexander Ipatov (TUR)
43  Igor Lysyj (RUS) 58.7% -7.0%  Constantin Lupulescu (ROU)
57 Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS) 49.8% -6.3%  Yuniesky Quezada Pérez (CUB)
59  Lázaro Bruzón Batista (CUB) 46.8% -6.1%  Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (IND)
61  Alexander Motylev (RUS) 44.3% -5.7%  Boris Grachev (RUS)

Of course all of the above looks at today’s results only in the context of advancing to round two. For most players this isn’t the goal. People are here to try to earn a spot in the Candidates Tournament! And then maybe to win the final, but that probably matters less to most fans as well as to at least some participants. So who were the big winners and losers of the day, in terms of improved or decreased odds of reaching the final?

Well, today didn’t have too much of an impact. The highest seeded player to actually lose today was Dominguez, and he only had a 2.3% chance of reaching the finals in our previous calculations. A couple top contenders had surprise draws, but they’re still huge favorites to win either tomorrow or in tie breaks, and remain unlikely to actually be ousted from the event in round 1. Their odds dropped a little, mostly because they took a ratings hit that impacts their projections in later rounds. For similar reasons it was hard to gain much ground today: players who have non-negligible odds of reaching the final were pretty much expected to win today’s game, so it’s hard for them to do much more than meet expectations. With all of that said, there were 16 players whose odds either increased or decreased by at least half a percentage point. They are:

Seed Player Rating NEW Odds CHANGE In Odds
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2817.0 28.7% 1.7%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2760.8 6.1% 1.2%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 2783.2 11.2% 0.6%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 2737.3 2.3% 0.6%
23  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 2729.2 2.4% 0.6%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2720.5 1.7% 0.5%
29  Peter Leko (HUN) 2710.6 1.1% 0.5%
33  Wang Hao (CHN) 2715.7 1.2% 0.5%
5  Wesley So (USA) 2761.4 6.7% 0.5%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 2778.0 10.6% -0.5%
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2735.6 2.2% -0.6%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2754.8 4.9% -0.8%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2724.8 1.2% -1.1%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 2793.9 17.3% -1.4%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 2770.3 8.5% -1.7%

Round two tomorrow will create much sharper spikes in players’ odds, as it becomes possible for eliminations to occur, whereas today even players who lost a game had an opportunity to bounce back. Enjoy the show!


4 thoughts on “World Cup Results: Day 1

  1. I find it intriguing that Nakamura’s odds increased the most of all (the last table). His own chances to reach round two only increased very slightly because he was already a heavy favourite. I guess it’s because a relatively high number of favourites stumbled in his bracket? He could meet Fressinet in round 3 and Adams, Dominguez or Kamsky in round 4, but now that all of these have decreased chances of even reaching round 2, Nakamura’s chances of facing easier opponents have improved. Is that the explanation, or am I missing something?


    • I assume that’s why. I’ll check the details:

      His odds of reaching round 2 went from 99.9% to 100.0% with the win.

      His odds of reaching round 3 went from 88.2% to 89.1%, because he’s now more likely to play the lower rated Shankland than the higher rated Popov.

      His odds of reaching round 4 are now 73.8%, up from 72.5%, but I think this is just carry over from being more likely to reach round 3.

      His odds of reaching round 5 are now 58.7%, up from 55.8%. Dominguez’s loss is big here, and Kamsky’s matters too. He’s now only 61.4% to have to face a 2700+ opponent, and 10.7% to face Melkumyan (rated just 2628), whereas before he was previously 76.7% to face either Adams or Dominguez and Melkumyan looked far less likely.

      From there the rest appears to mostly be carry over. But yeah, the combined losses of Popov, Kamsky, and Dominguez added up nicely to make his bracket quite a bit softer for him.


    • The win was completely expected, and didn’t really improve his odds of advancing (since they were already almost 100%). On the other hand, results elsewhere in his bracket presumably made his “draw” (who he might face in later rounds) marginally more difficult.


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