World Cup Recap: Day 4

As round two begins, things start to get serious. While round one was fun, as we saw in previous updates it had relatively little impact on who will eventually reach the finals. Now in round two the favorites are in much more danger of potentially being upset, and those odds can shift much more rapidly. Only once in the first three days of this tournament did a player see their odds of reaching the finals rise of fall by more than two percentage points (Gelfand, when he lost on tie breaks and his odds fell from 2.5% to zilch.) Today eight different players saw their odds shift by more than two percentage points. Here are those eight, along with everyone else whose odds shifted at least half a percentage point, how much their odds changed today, and what their new odds are (to see other players’ chances, or to see odds of actually winning the event, remember that we keep those numbers updated on our main World Cup page):

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Change in Odds
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 26.2% 5.5%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 13.8% 4.2%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 13.6% 3.2%
5  Wesley So (USA) 9.4% 2.4%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 4.9% 1.6%
23  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 3.6% 1.5%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 3.7% 1.4%
27  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2.3% 1.0%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2.9% 0.8%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 2.9% 0.6%
38  Anton Korobov (UKR) 0.1% -0.5%
33  Wang Hao (CHN) 0.4% -0.7%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 3.0% -0.9%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 3.9% -1.0%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 7.3% -1.1%
14  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 2.4% -1.1%
25  David Navara (CZE) 0.6% -1.4%
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 9.7% -1.5%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 0.9% -2.4%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 24.2% -3.1%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 15.6% -3.2%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2.5% -4.8%

We can see that at this stage even a draw is dangerous for someone who previously rated as a strong contender, especially with white. At the bottom of the list we see Nakamura and Giri dropping substantially as a price for merely drawing with the white pieces, and giving their lower rated opponents improved upset chances. Aronian drew as well, albeit with black, and earned the fifth largest drop in odds for his trouble. Karjakin and Adams, of course, lost their games and will both face must win games tomorrow just to try to force tie breaks (though they’ll both at least have white when they need to press).

At the top we see the beneficiaries of these drops. Kramnik and Caruana’s gains were at least as much a result of Nakamura’s draw and Karjakin’s loss as of their own victories. So and Ding gain because Giri and Aronian fall. The top ten seeds actually have a better combined chance of providing both finalists now than they did after yesterday’s games, so for the moment when one drops off it’s not the lower seed who beat them that benefits, it’s the other top seeds who become less likely to have to face as strong of opponents in later rounds.

As for the more immediate issue of round three, here is an updated view of all 32 matches, with the current favorite (in some cases not the same player who was favored yesterday), the current match score, and both the odds that the current favorite will advance and how much better (or in a couple spots worse) those odds are than they were before today’s game:

Player Score Odds Gain/Loss Today Underdog
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 1-0 98.3% 13.7% 67.  Rauf Mamedov (AZE)
52.  Julio Granda (PER) 1-0 98.2% 11.1% 116.  Cristobal Villagra Henriquez  IM (CHI)
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 1-0 97.3% 15.2% 57. Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS)
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 1-0 97.3% 15.4% 59.  Lázaro Bruzón Batista (CUB)
5.  Wesley So (USA) 1-0 97.3% 18.0% 60.  Csaba Balogh (HUN)
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 1-0 96.7% 17.8% 88.  Yuri Vovk (UKR)
18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 1-0 96.6% 18.2% 82.  Hrant Melkumyan (ARM)
26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 1-0 96.4% 19.4% 90.  Alexander Ipatov (TUR)
23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 1-0 95.5% 28.4% 42.  Maxim Rodshtein (ISR)
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 1-0 94.7% 26.2% 45.  Vladislav Artemiev (RUS)
27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 1-0 94.0% 37.1% 38.  Anton Korobov (UKR)
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 1/2-1/2 86.1% -1.5% 65.  Sergei Zhigalko (BLR)
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 1/2-1/2 82.4% -7.1% 63.  Sam Shankland (USA)
9.  Levon Aronian (ARM) 1/2-1/2 79.8% -0.5% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR)
7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 1/2-1/2 79.3% -0.7% 58.  Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS)
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 1/2-1/2 79.0% -7.0% 61.  Alexander Motylev (RUS)
29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 1/2-1/2 75.5% 0.6% 93.  Wen Yang (CHN)
21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 1/2-1/2 75.5% 0.6% 44.  Gabriel Sargissian (ARM)
50.  Viktor Laznicka (CZE) 1-0 74.7% 45.0% 15.  Michael Adams (ENG)
12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 1/2-1/2 73.9% -6.9% 53.  Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE)
17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 1/2-1/2 73.9% 0.7% 48.  Ilia Smirin (ISR)
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 1/2-1/2 72.7% 1.2% 46.  Hou Yifan (CHN)
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 1/2-1/2 70.5% -7.1% 74.  Bassem Amin (EGY)
14.  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 1/2-1/2 68.8% -7.8% 78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND)
89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 1-0 66.4% 44.0% 25.  David Navara (CZE)
54.  Alexander Onischuk (USA) 1-0 64.0% 43.4% 11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 1-0 62.9% 42.7% 33.  Wang Hao (CHN)
22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 1/2-1/2 62.3% -6.7% 43.  Igor Lysyj (RUS)
94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 1/2-1/2 59.1% 5.1% 99.  Sandro Mareco (ARG)
16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 1/2-1/2 59.0% -6.7% 49.  Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (GER)
31.  Laurent Fressinet (FRA) 1/2-1/2 54.5% 5.9% 34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)
28.  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 1/2-1/2 51.2% -6.8% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE)

Notice that as one would expect, the biggest gainers from today’s action are not the biggest overall favorites, as in order to gain the most ground you had to start out as an underdog. Players like Guseinov, Onischuk, and Lu who pulled off surprising upsets today improved their chances immensely and are in fact now favored to advance, but their higher rated opponents still have an opportunity to bounce back with wins tomorrow, and if they do their rating will make them the favorites again come tie breaks.

One other point of note is a check-in on the top players’ updated live ratings. While it’s easy to focus exclusively on results here at the World Cup, which will directly determine two berths in the 2016 Candidates Tournament (for the two finalists), the results here also impact who will earn two other Candidate spots (for highest average ratings among players not otherwise in the field). We reviewed the status of that race 10 days ago in great detail, and concluded that Topalov was essentially a lock and Giri was very likely to earn the other spot, but that maybe if Giri struggled badly he might risk being caught by Grischuk who was rather comfortably in third place. And third place is important, because if Topalov or Giri reaches the World Cup final, then “third” becomes second by default.

Well, Giri has struggled a little, dropping 5.3 rating points so far with two draws in his three classical games against lower rated opposition. While this opened a window for Grischuk, he has utterly failed to take advantage. Instead, Grischuk has drawn all three of his games and lost 9.1 rating points! Now not only does it look almost impossibly hopeless for him to catch Giri for second place, he suddenly has to worry about defending third place against Kramnik (who has had a good event so far, gaining 5.4 rating points himself!) At this point we still project Grischuk to finish ahead of Kramnik, but the margin has grown awfully thin. If Kramnik can gain just 8 additional rating points (net) on Grischuk before the end of November, he would move into third place in our projections! When we say “net”, it means that either Kramnik gaining additional points or Grischuk losing additional points would serve the purpose. Given that we currently calculate a significant 41% chance of either Topalov or Giri in fact reaching the World Cup final, this suddenly competitive battle for third place on the average ratings list carries strong importance. We’ll keep a close eye on the situation. If Grischuk chooses a strategy of trying to draw all his classical games, and utilizing his immense rapid and blitz talents (he’s #3 in the world in rapid, #6 in blitz, and “only” #11 in classical) to advance through the World Cup he may have to hope it pays off fully and gets him all the way to the finals, because with the classical rating points he’ll continue to lose in the process reaching the World Cup final might end up being his only hope of reaching the Candidates Tournament, should Kramnik continue playing well.


6 thoughts on “World Cup Recap: Day 4

    • Oops! Nice catch, thank you! I fixed it now (and the other one that was also wrong for the same reason, which I won’t mention in case noone saw it).

      I had sorted from best to worst odds, and assumed I could just reverse the bottom half and get everyone right, but didn’t realize there were two spots where the odds were actually identical!


  1. If my memory serves right, Chessnumbers predicts an 85% chance that a Top 10 player will exit in Round 2. Taking the cue from the quality of games played so far, generally the Russian contingent have not performed at par with their ratings. Hence, my weighted guess is it shall be amongst Kramnik, Grischuk, Karjakin and Jakovenko (if not in Rd 2, then in Rd 3) → this is saddening bcoz the first 3 are among my favourites.


    • Kramnik and Karjakin have actually been doing fine (with Karjakin’s performance only marred by today’s loss to Onischuk). If you have to choose a Russian to be eliminated in Round 2, I’d say it’s most likely to be Nepomniachtchi. (Tomashevsky and Jakovenko have turned into drawing machines for the classical section.)


    • I forgot to update this in the article, but the top ten players did well today. It’s still likely that either tomorrow or the next will see at least one sent home, but there’s now “only” a 77% chance, down from the 85% that you correctly remembered from before.


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