World Cup Round 1 Recap

Round one is now completely in the books, with the tie breaks completed. The clear shocker of the day was obviously IM Cristobal Henriquez Villagra, a 19 year old from Chile, ranked 681st in the world, emerging victorious in his tie breaks with GM Boris Gelfand, the world’s 19th highest rated player (prior to this encounter). After drawing both classical games on the first two days, Villagra had the white pieces in today’s first tie break game and once again drew. In the next rapid game, with Gelfand as white, one would have expected the higher rated player to control things, but instead it was Villagra who took control and won! With the victory the question of “largest first round upset” was resolved; Villagra advanced to round two ahead of his rival despite a 230 rating point deficit!

Four other underdogs (by seed) also won their tie breaks today, so ultimately 51 of the top 64 seeds advanced to round two while 13 “upsets” occurred. There were also three first-round matchups where the higher seed was actually lower rated, and since the higher seed won all three of these there were 16 upsets if you prefer to count the favorite as the higher rated player, rather than the higher seed. Either way, though, most of these upsets occurred lower in the brackets, where they weren’t particularly surprising. Gelfand was the only player among the top 29 seeds not to advance, with the second and third biggest upsets being the defeats of Ni Hua and Alexander Moiseenko (seeded #30 and #32) at the hands of Sandro Mareco and Lu Shanglei, both rated 2599 before the event began. These two upsets saw the underdogs overcoming rating gaps of 105 and 93, within which range our model expects an underdog to win just under 20% of the time, so they weren’t exactly shockers. Villagra holds the monopoly on shock from this first round.

With the round two bracket settled, here are the 32 matches that begin tomorrow, sorted from largest to smallest rating gaps, with the favorite’s odds of advancing to round three shown:

Favorite Seed Rating Odds Underdog Seed Rating
 Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2 2817.8 89.4%  Sam Shankland (USA) 63 2643.0
 Veselin Topalov (BUL) 1 2814.7 87.7%  Sergei Zhigalko (BLR) 65 2656.0
 Julio Granda (PER) 52 2670.8 87.1%  Cristobal Villagra Henriquez  IM (CHI) 116 2516.8
 Anish Giri (NED) 4 2794.7 86.0%  Alexander Motylev (RUS) 61 2649.0
 Fabiano Caruana (USA) 3 2797.7 84.6%  Rauf Mamedov (AZE) 67 2662.0
 Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 6 2779.0 82.1%  Lázaro Bruzón Batista (CUB) 59 2658.8
 Ding Liren (CHN) 8 2779.4 81.9% Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS) 57 2659.6
 Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 12 2751.6 80.9%  Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE) 53 2639.0
 Levon Aronian (ARM) 9 2786.9 80.3%  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR) 56 2676.9
 Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 7 2766.5 80.0%  Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS) 58 2659.4
 Wang Hao (CHN) 33 2709.4 79.8%  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 97 2601.6
 Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 11 2765.6 79.4%  Alexander Onischuk (USA) 54 2661.4
 Wesley So (USA) 5 2762.7 79.3%  Csaba Balogh (HUN) 60 2659.0
 Wei Yi (CHN) 24 2735.6 78.9%  Yuri Vovk (UKR) 88 2634.4
 Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 18 2727.6 78.4%  Hrant Melkumyan (ARM) 82 2629.0
 Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 10 2741.6 77.6%  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 89 2635.6
 David Navara (CZE) 25 2730.6 77.6%  Bassem Amin (EGY) 74 2647.2
 Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 26 2724.0 77.0%  Alexander Ipatov (TUR) 90 2631.6
 Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 14 2741.4 76.6%  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 78 2650.6
 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 21 2758.6 74.9%  Wen Yang (CHN) 93 2627.2
 Peter Leko (HUN) 29 2709.2 74.9%  Gabriel Sargissian (ARM) 44 2677.4
 Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 17 2733.2 73.2%  Ilia Smirin (ISR) 48 2659.4
 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 19 2736.6 71.5%  Hou Yifan (CHN) 46 2670.0
 Michael Adams (ENG) 15 2741.6 70.3%  Viktor Laznicka (CZE) 50 2679.8
 Yu Yangyi (CHN) 22 2727.2 69.0%  Igor Lysyj (RUS) 43 2669.8
 Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 20 2734.3 68.5%  Vladislav Artemiev (RUS) 45 2679.4
 Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 23 2727.2 67.1%  Maxim Rodshtein (ISR) 42 2676.8
 Peter Svidler (RUS) 16 2727.0 65.7%  Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (GER) 49 2681.6
 Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 28 2721.6 58.0%  Le Quang Liem (VIE) 37 2699.8
 Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 27 2721.8 56.9%  Anton Korobov (UKR) 38 2703.0
 Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 94 2618.4 54.0%  Sandro Mareco (ARG) 99 2606.8
 Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 34 2702.6 51.5%  Laurent Fressinet (FRA) 31 2699.2

It’s interesting that Villagra is not the largest underdog in round two, because he gets to face the #52 seed Julio Granda, making him a slightly smaller underdog than Shankland and Zhigalko. He’s still unlikely to advance again, though. Kovalyov-Mareco is an interesting matchup because the fact that both won in upsets means we’re guaranteed to see at least one player seeded 94th or lower advance to the third round. Wesley So is surprisingly vulnerable compared to the other top five seeds, as his rating dropped precipitously after seeds were determined, and he faces better than a 20% chance of falling in this round.

Overall we expect about 22 of the top 32 seeds to advance to round three (with 29 of course being the most that could, as three are already eliminated). We also predict an 85% chance that at least one top ten seed will be eliminated this round, even though each is at least a 77% favorite individually. With most of the bottom half of the field eliminated, things are getting more dangerous for the top players; note that every underdog has at least a 10% chance to win.

As for the longer term goal of reaching the finals and earning a spot in the 2016 Candidates Tournament, who were the big movers and shakers from today’s games? Once again few players saw significant changes in their odds, with just seven players’ odds shifting by more than half a percentage point. The big loser of course was Gelfand who saw his 2.5% chance at reaching the Candidates Tournament evaporate to zero. Giri, So, Topalov, and Ding all benefited from that upset, as they are the top seeds who might otherwise have had to face Gelfand, but surprisingly only one of them gained enough to mention after accounting for odds changes elsewhere in the brackets. Here are all seven:

Seed Player NEW Odds Change
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 20.7% 1.8%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 18.8% 0.9%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 3.3% 0.7%
25  David Navara (CZE) 2.0% 0.5%
35  Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB) 0.0% -0.7%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 27.3% -1.0%
13  Boris Gelfand (ISR) 0.0% -2.5%

Caruana’s jump is from Ni Hua and Rustam Kasimdzhanov both losing their tie break matches today. Suddenly Caruana’s third round opponent (assuming he gets past Mamdov) will be a 94 or 99 seed. Now he has a 76.5% chance of reaching the fourth round, where yesterday we had that number at just 70.5%.

This tournament is wonderful in that it moves on relentlessly, continuing tomorrow with the first classical game of round 2. Tune in and see what top ten seeds might struggle, and which favorites validate the status!


8 thoughts on “World Cup Round 1 Recap

  1. Btw, Gelfand’s loss seems to be the biggest first-round upset in the history of this format (at match level, not single games), even when including FIDE World Championships from the early 2000s. This is seed #13 losing to #116, with a rating difference of 230 points between them, The most extreme cases I found in earlier events were two losses by seeds #16 to #113: by Movsesian to Yu Yangyi in the 2009 World Cup (with a rating difference slightly smaller than 200), and by Karpov to Zhang Pengxiang in the 2002 FIDE WC (with a rating difference slightly bigger than 200).

    [I didn’t count losses by forfeit, like those by Akopian as seed #7 in 2005 or Morozevich as seed #2 in 2004]


  2. The biggest single-game upset in a FIDE KO is still Anand (2770) losing with White (!) to Olivier Touzane (2368) in 2001, right? Big ups to Vishy for winning the next game with Black, and the minimatch.


    • Leko/MVL was the other matchup where the error occurred, but I thought I’d already fixed it.

      On my end it shows the current version of the article as correctly matching Leko and Wen, and has shown such for a couple hours. Are you seeing differently?


  3. It’s still not perfect here. What I see:

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 21 2758.6 74.9% Wen Yang (CHN) 93 2627.2
    Peter Leko (HUN) 29 2709.2 74.9% Gabriel Sargissian (ARM) 44 2677.4

    Just a note: maybe your correction was in the other article (about the first games of Round2), but the same mistake occured here as well. Not so important anyway, just wanted to let you know.

    Excellent blog by the way, thanks!!!


    • Huh, yeah now it looks wrong on my end again too. I meant here, but apparently my fix never took hold. I can’t say that doesn’t bug me a little bit, but at this point I see no point in worrying any further about it or trying to fix it. Glad you enjoy the blog!


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