Certain World Chess Champions might have made a splash by poking fun at the Giri-Leko matchup and predicting nine straight draws, but Anish was having none of it. Giri instead won today, advancing to round four and earning a rest day. It was one of many decisive results in a bloody day of battle. All four players who lost yesterday failed to bounce back and were eliminated, and five other matches where game one was drawn saw a decisive victor today! Less than half the field, seven of 16 matches, will continue with tie breaks tomorrow.
Here are the nine players who have already punched their ticket to round four, and how much better “100%” is than their odds entering the day. Note that none of these nine actually improved their odds by more than 50%, meaning all of them entered today as favorites to eventually advance:
|Seed||Player||Rating||Rd 4 Odds Gain||Player Eliminated|
|3||Fabiano Caruana (USA)||2798.7||1.5%||Anton Kovalyov (CAN)|
|4||Anish Giri (NED)||2793.5||25.0%||Peter Leko (HUN)|
|8||Ding Liren (CHN)||2782.0||16.5%||Gadir Guseinov (AZE)|
|10||Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||2743.0||42.1%||Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR)|
|11||Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||2766.6||6.3%||Yu Yangyi (CHN)|
|19||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)||2737.2||4.3%||S.P. Sethuraman (IND)|
|20||Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL)||2740.5||28.5%||Julio Granda (PER)|
|24||Wei Yi (CHN)||2735.8||30.2%||Alexander Areshchenko (UKR)|
|26||Pavel Eljanov (UKR)||2743.0||9.4%||Alexander Grischuk (RUS)|
Meanwhile, here are the seven matches going to tie breaks tomorrow:
|1. Veselin Topalov (BUL)||2809.9||89.1%||4.4%||97. Lu Shanglei (CHN)||2620.2|
|2. Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||2810.6||76.8%||-3.0%||34. Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)||2705.6|
|5. Wesley So (USA)||2767.5||68.3%||3.3%||37. Le Quang Liem (VIE)||2702.6|
|6. Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)||2779.2||64.9%||-5.3%||27. Dmitry Andreikin (RUS)||2727.8|
|21. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||2762.2||54.3%||5.5%||12. Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)||2747.8|
|15. Michael Adams (ENG)||2739.6||53.1%||5.6%||18. Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB)||2729.8|
|17. Teimour Radjabov (AZE)||2730.6||51.5%||5.7%||16. Peter Svidler (RUS)||2726.0|
It’s worth discussing here that one of the decisions we made in our model was to use classical ratings (not rapid or blitz ratings) to project tie break results. For the most part we stand by this decision as the best choice, because rapid ratings in particular tend to be based on unreliably small sample sizes, and we feel that most of the time a player’s classical rating is a strong reflection of their overall chess strength at any time control. However in this particular round there are two matches that may be exceptions.
Veselin Topalov has a classical rating of 2810, but a blitz rating of just 2647. Lu Shanglei has a classical rating of just 2620, but a blitz rating of 2780. In other words, if the blitz ratings are accurate Lu might be as big of a favorite in blitz as Topalov was in classical! Now for blitz games to actually be played, two rapid mini-matches would have to be drawn first. Both Topalov and Lu have rapid ratings that are similar (slightly lower) to their classical ratings, but also both are “inactive” on the rapid ratings list. Topalov hasn’t played a rated rapid event since 2013, and Lu’s only rated rapid event in the last three years came 15 months ago. It is entirely unclear whether classical ratings or blitz ratings are a better predictor of a player’s skill in rapid chess. We suspect, but cannot prove, that classical ratings probably are more useful in predicting G/25 strength, but blitz ratings might be better in G/10. Topalov is therefore probably the clear favorite in the first pair of games, but maybe at best equal in the second pair of games should it reach that point, and quite possibly an underdog in the third pair of games if it goes the distance. Overall none of these considerations are built into our model, but the point is that the number one seed is probably much less than the 89% favorite our model currently indicates.
Another player who may be less of a favorite than the model indicates is Hikaru Nakamura. This is perhaps surprising, because he’s well known as perhaps the best speed chess player ever (currently ranked #1 in the world in rapid and #2 in blitz behind Carlsen). How, then, could rapid and blitz tie breaks not benefit him? Well his opponent this round is also a speed specialist. Nepomniachtchti is just 39th in the world in classical chess, but is ranked #10 in rapid and #4 in blitz. Nakamura’s classical rating edge is over 100 points, but his rapid and blitz rating advantages are both around 60. Looking at the classical rating, our model makes Nakamura a 77% favorite in the tie breaks, but if we treat him as only 60 rating points higher his odds would drop to about 67%. So obviously a player as strong in speed chess as Nakamura is a favorite in tie breaks, but perhaps not favored by as much in this case as we would think.
We’ll find out tomorrow what happens in these, and the other, tie break matches. For the rest of our analysis we will treat the model’s use of only classical ratings as valid, but keep in mind that the other odds we mention are possibly off slightly in this case.
So what about reaching the finals, and earning a spot in the Candidates Tournament? Seven players improved their chances by at least half a percentage point, and 10 players saw their odds fall by at least that much. Interestingly only four of the nine players eliminated today entered the day with better than a half percent chance, so six of those “biggest drops” came for players who are still alive, just not as well positioned as before. Here’s everyone who saw significant change to their odds from yesterday to today:
|Seed||Player||Rating||New Odds of Reaching Finals||Finals Gain|
|4||Anish Giri (NED)||2793.5||23.2%||5.3%|
|10||Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||2743.0||7.6%||3.7%|
|8||Ding Liren (CHN)||2782.0||17.7%||1.7%|
|26||Pavel Eljanov (UKR)||2743.0||7.6%||1.4%|
|11||Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||2766.6||11.7%||1.1%|
|20||Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL)||2740.5||5.3%||0.8%|
|24||Wei Yi (CHN)||2735.8||4.7%||0.7%|
|56||Alexander Areshchenko (UKR)||2680.7||0.0%||-0.5%|
|16||Peter Svidler (RUS)||2726.0||1.9%||-0.9%|
|5||Wesley So (USA)||2767.5||7.9%||-1.0%|
|7||Alexander Grischuk (RUS)||2751.9||0.0%||-1.0%|
|6||Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)||2779.2||9.3%||-1.0%|
|12||Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)||2747.8||3.5%||-1.2%|
|29||Peter Leko (HUN)||2709.2||0.0%||-1.3%|
|2||Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||2810.6||24.8%||-1.6%|
|1||Veselin Topalov (BUL)||2809.9||27.2%||-2.1%|
|23||Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR)||2726.6||0.0%||-2.4%|
It’s worth mentioning again that Nakamura and Topalov, listed here as the second and third greatest drops, are in that position despite perhaps being given more credit than they deserve. If we keep everything else the same, but assume that both players are only 70% to advance tomorrow (possibly still generous in both cases) then their odds of reaching the finals become 21.3% for Topalov and 22.6% for Nakamura, making their “drops” today 8.0 and 3.8 percentage points, respectively, and making them the two players who had the worst day overall (which is surprising, when they are both favored to advance and nine others were eliminated, but that’s what happens when you’re the top two favorites to win the whole event, and you face the high expectations that go along with that).
One other critical occurrence in today’s games also had a strong impact on potential qualification for the Candidates Tournament: Grischuk lost his game (in the process of being eliminated by Eljanov, who is now a spectacular 6/6 in classical games at this event and hasn’t yet even sniffed a possible tie break). This means Grischuk lost six more rating points, and we now officially are projecting Kramnik, not Grischuk, to be third in the average ratings list. We now have Topalov and Giri at a combined 50.3% chance of reaching the finals (though only around 40% combined if you prefer 70% as Topalov’s odds in tomorrow’s tie break), so there is a very significant chance of third place on the ratings list being important. We now project Kramnik to have a 38% chance of earning one of the seven non-wild-card spots in the Candidates Tournament, while offering Grischuk just a 24% chance.