World Cup Recap: Day 5 (Round 2, second classical game)

It was an elimination day at the World Cup today, and 17 players were dispatched from the tournament. Some were expected, as five of the top ten seeds moved forward without the need for tie breaks, while others were shocking (see Sethuraman upsetting Harikrishna!)

So let us begin by looking at the decisive matches. This table shows the 34 players who do not face tie breaks tomorrow, either because they earned a rest day as victors, or because they were eliminated from the event entirely. Also shown is the final score of the two classical games, and how much the winner’s odds of advancing improved from just today’s game. Of course all winners have a 100% chance of advancing now, so a 25% improvement (for instance) would indicate that the player was a 75% favorite to advance after the results of yesterday’s first game. This table is sorted from most to least surprising, based on what we already knew when today’s games began:

Winner Score Gain/Loss Today Loser
78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 1 1/2 – 1/2 68.8% 14.  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND)
94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 40.9% 99.  Sandro Mareco (ARG)
97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 37.1% 33.  Wang Hao (CHN)
89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 1 1/2 – 1/2 33.6% 25.  David Navara (CZE)
21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 1 1/2 – 1/2 24.5% 44.  Gabriel Sargissian (ARM)
29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 24.5% 93.  Wen Yang (CHN)
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 1 1/2 – 1/2 13.9% 65.  Sergei Zhigalko (BLR)
27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 1 1/2 – 1/2 6.0% 38.  Anton Korobov (UKR)
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 1 1/2 – 1/2 5.3% 45.  Vladislav Artemiev (RUS)
23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 1 1/2 – 1/2 4.5% 42.  Maxim Rodshtein (ISR)
26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2 – 0 3.6% 90.  Alexander Ipatov (TUR)
18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 1 1/2 – 1/2 3.4% 82.  Hrant Melkumyan (ARM)
5.  Wesley So (USA) 2 – 0 2.7% 60.  Csaba Balogh (HUN)
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 1 1/2 – 1/2 2.7% 59.  Lázaro Bruzón Batista (CUB)
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 2.7% 57. Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS)
52.  Julio Granda (PER) 2 – 0 1.8% 116.  Cristobal Villagra Henriquez  IM (CHI)
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 1 1/2 – 1/2 1.7% 67.  Rauf Mamedov (AZE)

Sethuraman is the only true upset on the list after factoring in yesterday’s games. Lu and Guseinov upset much higher rated opponents to advance to round 3, but they got their wins yesterday and merely had to draw today to clinch their match results. That wasn’t a given, but it was likely enough that they entered the day as favorites. Interesting, perhaps, is that only three matches were decided by 2 – 0 scores. In many cases a player who had won yesterday accepted a draw in a position that, had they needed to, they probably could have won today. This includes Kramnik, who had a convincing position against Bruzon when the draw was agreed. It will be interesting to see whether he regrets giving away those five rating points (he lost 1.6 for the draw, when he would have gained 3.4 with a win), since as we discussed yesterday he is very close to catching Grischuk for third place in the average ratings list, which could be worth a spot in the Candidates Tournament should Topalov or Giri reach the World Cup finals (now a 46% proposition).

Those of you doing the math at home have presumably already realized that 17 decisive matches means 15 matches that will go to tie breaks tomorrow. There aren’t really too many big surprises on this list, as 12 of these matches saw both yesterday’s first game and today’s second game drawn. The odds for an eventual winner in these 12 matches only shifted between 3 and 6 percentage points with the second draw, for the most part all the same people are still favored by about the same amounts.

In only three cases did a player bounce back from defeat yesterday with a win today, and force their way into the tie breaks. Two of these, Karjakin and Adams, were high seeds who recovered from upset losses, and are now favored to win tomorrow. The third, Vovk, remains an underdog, but his chances now are certainly much better than the zero percent chance he would have had he drawn or lost today. Here are all 15 matches, with the favorite’s odds of winning tomorrow’s tie breaks, and how much ground that favorite gained or lost on today’s result:

Favorite Odds Gain/Loss Today Underdog
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 86.5% 4.2% 63.  Sam Shankland (USA)
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 82.5% 3.5% 61.  Alexander Motylev (RUS)
7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 76.3% -3.0% 58.  Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS)
9.  Levon Aronian (ARM) 76.6% -3.2% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR)
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 73.7% 3.2% 74.  Bassem Amin (EGY)
11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 75.7% 39.7% 54.  Alexander Onischuk (USA)
12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 77.0% 3.1% 53.  Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE)
15.  Michael Adams (ENG) 66.7% 41.3% 50.  Viktor Laznicka (CZE)
16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 62.8% 3.9% 49.  Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (GER)
17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 69.3% -4.6% 48.  Ilia Smirin (ISR)
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 67.9% -4.9% 46.  Hou Yifan (CHN)
22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 65.9% 3.6% 43.  Igor Lysyj (RUS)
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 75.1% -21.6% 88.  Yuri Vovk (UKR)
28.  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 56.1% 4.9% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE)
34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 51.2% 5.7% 31.  Laurent Fressinet (FRA)

Finally let us consider the broader point: who will the two finalists ultimately be that earn their places in next year’s Candidates Tournament? The full odds for all players left in the field are over on our main World Cup page, but here we will look at who saw their odds shift the most. Using our threshold of half a percentage point gained or lost, there were four players who saw their odds improve significantly on today’s result, and 11 who took significant hits to their chances.

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Gain/Loss
1  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 32.0% 6.6%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 5.8% 3.3%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 7.1% 1.8%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 2.7% 1.7%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 4.4% -0.5%
25  David Navara (CZE) 0.0% -0.6%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 3.2% -0.6%
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 1.7% -0.7%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 6.4% -0.8%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 12.7% -0.9%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 3.0% -0.9%
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 8.6% -1.1%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 1.7% -1.2%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 13.7% -1.9%
14  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 0.0% -2.4%

Topalov’s gain is by far the largest single-day improvement we’ve seen yet in anyone’s chances here. Why was today such a good day for him? Two key results occurred. First of all, he won his game (after drawing yesterday) to avoid tie breaks and guarantee a spot in round three, which was previously just an 86% proposition according to our model. That by itself improved his odds to 29.5%, but there are still 2.5 additional percentage points of improvement we need to explain. His other key gain was thanks to Lu Shanglei, who followed up yesterday’s upset win over Wang Hao with a second victory today, clinching his spot as Topalov’s round three opponent. Dodging what we previously saw as a 37% chance Wang would survive brings Topalov’s odds of reaching the finals up to 31%. The remaining percentage point is a subtle mix of small factors, but those two games, Topalov and Lu’s victories, were both great news for Veselin’s chances (and for those such as Grischuk and Kramnik who are hoping Topalov reaches the final in order to free up a spot for someone else to qualify by rating).

Today was not a spectacular day for fans of upsets. We saw Sethuraman over Harikrishna, but otherwise the top players did marginally better than expected. Navara, at #25, was the next highest seed to fall, and Karajakin and Adams both dodged bullets in must-win games. 12 of the top 32 seeds are now safely in round 3, and we expect to see 10 or 11 more get through out of tomorrow’s 15 tie break matches. With five of the top 10 seeds in action tomorrow it’s still likely we’ll see at least one fall, but their collective odds have improved to 31% that all 10 will advance (and there’s even a 1.4% chance we’ll see them all in round 4). We are seeing some upsets, which was inevitable, but no more than expected. If you were hoping for carnage in the early rounds it doesn’t seem to be happening. That said, the odds are slightly better than 1/3000 that all five of the top 10 seeds in action could lose, so there’s that!


5 thoughts on “World Cup Recap: Day 5 (Round 2, second classical game)

  1. Why is Giri the biggest loser of today? It wasn’t the best possible round for him(not clinching the third round place, while his strongest possible opponents in the next rounds (Leko, Wojtaszek, So en Topalov) all did), but still, his odds to reach the next round increased. Or is it because his odds are so high, he has more to lose?


    • 1.) Now guaranteed to face Leko in third round (had 25% chance to face Wen Yang yesterday).

      2.) Now 87.9% to face So/Toma/MVL in semis, was 83.0% yesterday, MVL’s win hurt him here.

      3.) Miscellaneous small rating fluctuations (rating dropped 2 points, hurts slightly) and subtle shifts in bracket. Ultimately it doesn’t take much, he only dropped 1.9 percentage points after all.


    • A second point: I made a mistake and omitted two players from the “biggest losers” category. Everything I said about why Giri’s odds dropped is correct, but he actually only had the second worst day. I just updated the article with Navara and Harikrishna (the actual biggest loser of the day) included.


    • Using classical, because most tie breaks will be decided in rapid games not blitz games, and rapid ratings are extremely untrustworthy (not many rated rapid events out there). Blitz ratings are pretty accurate, but I’m not convinced they are any better of an indicator of rapid skill than classical ratings are.


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