World Cup Recap: Round 2

Round two of the World Cup concluded today with tie break matches, and the field has now been narrowed to 32 players. Once again we saw slightly fewer upsets than expected, as 13 of the 15 matches were won by the higher rated player, however we did still have one major surprise: Levon Aronian, seeded #9 and fresh off victory at the Sinquefield Cup, was ousted by Alexander Areshchenko. Throughout our reports on the second round we’ve assured you that it was likely you’d see at least one player in the top ten upset, and Aronian proved to be the victim. That being said, 24 of the 32 remaining players are supposed to be here, as top-32 seeds, where before the tournament began we expected to see just 21 or 22 such “chalk” results at this point.

In light of today’s results, 21 players saw their odds of eventually reaching the final (and earning a berth in the 2016 Candidates Tournament for their efforts) change by at least half a percentage point, although over half those players saw less than a full point of change. Aronian of course was the biggest surprise, as entering today’s tie breaks we thought he had an 8.6% chance of going all the way to the finals. That number is of course now zero, with other players taking control of his equity. If he had advanced, he would have faced Wei Yi in round three, and should he continue winning (with other matches all being won by favorites) he’d have then faced Ding Liren in round four and eventually Anish Giri in round six. Not surprisingly, those players are all among the top gainers on the day:

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Gain/Loss
4  Anish Giri (NED) 17.1% 3.4%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 27.0% 2.8%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 15.7% 2.3%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 3.6% 1.9%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 7.7% 1.3%
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 4.0% 1.1%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 6.8% 1.0%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 3.9% 0.9%
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2.5% 0.7%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 3.4% 0.7%
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2.1% 0.7%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 3.4% 0.5%
31  Laurent Fressinet (FRA) 0.0% -0.5%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 6.3% -0.7%
28  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 0.0% -0.9%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2.3% -0.9%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2.3% -0.9%
23  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 2.5% -0.9%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 11.5% -1.2%
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 24.5% -2.1%
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 0.0% -8.6%

Coming up in round three we have 32 players remaining. The field includes 13 of the top 16, and the entire top eight, by original seeding. What should we expect in terms of round three upsets? Most likely about nine of the 13 remaining seeds who were “supposed” to reach round four will do so. It could be eight or 10, even seven or 11, but nine is most likely. As for the top eight seeds, the original favorites to compete in the quarterfinals (round five), we should see at least one lose. There is only a 13% chance that when round three concludes, Aronian will remain the highest seed eliminated. There is even a fair chance of more than one of these top eight players losing – we project an average of 6.2 top eight seeds to reach round four.

Here are all 16 matches that begin tomorrow, with the favorite’s odds of victory shown:

Favorite Rating Odds Underdog Rating
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 2815.5 91.9% 97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 2614.6
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2798.7 89.5% 94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 2623.0
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 2781.0 84.9% 89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 2643.2
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2813.6 80.5% 34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 2702.6
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 2790.9 74.3% 29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 2711.8
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2734.8 73.8% 78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 2658.2
5.  Wesley So (USA) 2769.5 72.0% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE) 2700.6
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 2737.5 70.0% 52.  Julio Granda (PER) 2676.6
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 2780.8 68.5% 27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2726.2
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 2732.8 67.9% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR) 2679.7
11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2762.8 63.2% 22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 2725.8
7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 2763.5 61.8% 26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2731.4
21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2761.8 55.1% 12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2748.2
15.  Michael Adams (ENG) 2739.8 53.6% 18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2729.6
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2738.6 52.9% 23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 2731.0
17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2731.0 51.8% 16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2725.6

6 thoughts on “World Cup Recap: Round 2

  1. I’ve never considered Aronian (a Top 10 but unfortunately he’s in enemy territory) to be a favourite but I’m surprised with his very early exit (and all other Armenians, too). To compliment earlier observations, I reckon that Rd 3 will kick out another Top 10. I love to see how far my gut feels shall go, winner (/loser):

    Topalov’s half:
    Topalov (/Lu) . . . . . . . . . . . . Svidler (/Radjabov)
    Ding (/Guseinov) . . . . . . . . . Wei Yi (/Areschenko)
    Giri (/Leko) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wojtaszek (/Granda)
    Wesley (/LeQuang). . . . . . . .MVL (/Toma)

    Naka’s half:
    Naka (/Nepomn) . . . . . . . . .Dominguez (/Adams)
    Eljanov (/Grischuk). . . . . . . Ivanchuk (/Jako)
    Caruana (/Kovalyov). . . . . . Mamedyarov (/Sethuraman)
    Andreikin (/Kramnik). . . . . . Karjakin (/Yangyi)

    If it go to tie breaks again, Grischuk can be true to himself(!) and Lu may as well pull another upset.
    I can be wrong. In fact, Dominguez vs Adams and Ivanchuk vs Jako are a toss-up matches for me.
    I put Dominguez and Ivanchuk names just for completeness


    • Eljanov and Andreikin are somewhat gutsy picks. Grischuk has seemed a little off, with all the draws, but I’m particularly surprised you’d pick against Kramnik who seems to be in fine form so far. It’ll be exciting to find out if you’re right or not!


      • Grischuk is adorable but so far, he has only managed draws. Kramnik-Andreikin, in my reckoning, is also double-edged and can go either way. However, today’s Kramnik is not the 2013 World Cup winner Vladimer.

        Again, to reiterate, these are all gut feels and I may be wrong → as Giri reminded us yesterday: a player may be subjected to lots of tie breaks but may land in the Finals!


      • And I was right !! If we leave the two matches (Adams-Dominguez and Jako-Ivanchuk) I thought were toss-up and could go either way, I cannot believe that my gut feels were 100% ! But again, to reiterate, I was never sure until the results came.

        In hindsight, I reckon that chessnumbers is right to argue that classical ratings is a good gauge of rapid match-ups. For example, Wesley (classical 2767, rapid 2635) is behind by ELO 135 points to Le Quang (classical 2702, rapid 2770) but LQL imploded and lost. Another case is Topalov vs. Lu → Topa just got so many winning chances in this match.

        At the end of the day, however, intelligent gut feel (based on the playing mood and motivation of a player) are for me still the best gauge with statistics as starting point.


      • Certainly a chance, although surviving the 25 minute games might be tough too. Neither Lu nor Topalov has a reliable rapid rating, but signs are that Topalov doesn’t really get worse (relatively) until blitz time controls, and Lu similarly doesn’t show relative improvement except in blitz.

        There’s also about a 6.1% chance he won’t need to go that route, based on the 201 point classical rating difference, and will actually win the match in the classical phase! Topalov is expected to win in classical games 73.6% of the time, with a 20.3% chance of the match going to tie breaks.


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