The third round of the World Cup again saw relatively few upsets; this tournament so far has been an impressive showing by the top players. We did lose two of our top eight seeds, with Grischuk being eliminated yesterday in the classical games and Kramnik knocked out today in tie breaks. However the top five seeds remain intact, and deeper down the seeding lists we see that everyone seeded lower than 27th has now been eliminated. There are no longer any huge Cinderella stories to follow as we enter the fourth round, all 16 remaining players are strong contenders, with the lowest rated player in the field (Svidler) still boasting a strong 2726 rating, making him the 28th highest rated player in the world by current live ratings.
So we aren’t going to see a crazy run from a 2600 or below player. Lu Shanglei was our last hope for a sub-2700 player to continue on, but he lost to Topalov in the first pair of tie breaks today. Instead we’re going to see eight very competitive matches in round four, since the best and worst remaining players (by rating) are separated by just 85 rating points. Upsets would be minor at this point, meaning no remaining player is safe.
The seven players eliminated today had a combined 19.3% chance of reaching the finals (almost half of that equity belonging to Kramnik – the others were all long shots to various degrees), so the remaining players saw their own odds increase by that amount in net. With only 23 players left entering today, and all but three of them seeing their odds change by at least half a percentage point (even players who didn’t play today) as every matchup has significant ramifications through the whole bracket at this point, we will show you the impact today’s results had on everyone:
|Seed||Player||Rating||New Odds of Reaching Finals||Change|
|2||Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||2810.6||32.5%||7.7%|
|21||Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||2762.2||8.9%||3.2%|
|1||Veselin Topalov (BUL)||2809.9||30.4%||3.2%|
|5||Wesley So (USA)||2767.5||10.7%||2.8%|
|27||Dmitry Andreikin (RUS)||2727.8||4.1%||2.6%|
|15||Michael Adams (ENG)||2739.6||5.2%||1.8%|
|11||Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||2766.6||13.4%||1.7%|
|16||Peter Svidler (RUS)||2726.0||3.0%||1.2%|
|3||Fabiano Caruana (USA)||2798.7||26.1%||0.3%|
|19||Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)||2737.2||4.9%||0.2%|
|24||Wei Yi (CHN)||2735.8||4.2%||-0.5%|
|20||Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL)||2740.5||4.7%||-0.6%|
|10||Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||2743.0||6.9%||-0.7%|
|26||Pavel Eljanov (UKR)||2743.0||6.9%||-0.7%|
|8||Ding Liren (CHN)||2782.0||16.4%||-1.3%|
|4||Anish Giri (NED)||2793.5||21.6%||-1.6%|
We have shown players eliminated in today’s tie break festivities with their names crossed off. They mostly were the day’s biggest losers, although in a few cases (particularly Lu) their odds of reaching the finals were so low already that today’s elimination cost them less ultimate equity in a Candidates Tournament berth than was lost by some players still in the running. It was slightly bad news for Ding and Giri, for example, that Topalov and Nakamura both advanced. And since Ding and Giri both have substantial chances of actually reaching the finals, their odds dropped further (in absolute terms of percentage points) than bigger underdogs like Lu, Le, or Nepomniachtchi.
So what are our fourth round matchups?
|1. Veselin Topalov (BUL)||2809.9||75.4%||16. Peter Svidler (RUS)||2726.0|
|2. Hikaru Nakamura (USA)||2810.6||72.5%||15. Michael Adams (ENG)||2739.6|
|3. Fabiano Caruana (USA)||2798.7||70.3%||19. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)||2737.2|
|4. Anish Giri (NED)||2793.5||67.9%||20. Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL)||2740.5|
|8. Ding Liren (CHN)||2782.0||66.0%||24. Wei Yi (CHN)||2735.8|
|11. Sergey Karjakin (RUS)||2766.6||63.9%||27. Dmitry Andreikin (RUS)||2727.8|
|5. Wesley So (USA)||2767.5||52.2%||21. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)||2762.2|
|10. Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)||2743.0||50.0%||26. Pavel Eljanov (UKR)||2743.0|
As we said, the rating gaps have shrunk dramatically. Nobody is better than a 3:1 favorite, and our 10 vs. 26 match is actually a perfectly dead even draw. We may not have had as many upsets as those who prefer early round craziness would have wanted, but the upside is we should see some tremendous chess in the final rounds. Everyone left in the field has at least a 3% chance of advancing to the finals.
What about some of the other side stories? We’ve been following Kramnik and Grischuk’s live ratings closely, and yesterday we saw Kramnik pass Grischuk for the projected third place in the average ratings for 2015. Now Kramnik has been eliminated in rapid tie breaks (which didn’t hurt his rating) so he remains ahead in that hunt, and we now know that neither player will see further rating swings in this event. The chase isn’t over though, both will participate in the European Club Cup at the end of October, and the projected ratings are close enough that even a tiny ratings swing for either player could shift the scenario. Of course by then the World Cup will be over, and we will know whether those ratings matter. This is just the race for third place, after all, so it’s only relevant if Topalov or Giri reaches the World Cup finals. Both Kramnik and Grischuk fans should be rooting for Topalov and Giri (although Kramnik fans might find the former challenging). Right now we project a 52% chance of one of those winning their half of the bracket. If this happens it will make every game at the European Club Cup fascinating from a ratings perspective. The other 48% of the time, ratings stop mattering at all.
There’s a similar situation on the other side of the bracket. Caruana and Nakamura finished 1-2 in the Grand Prix and have already punched tickets to the Candidates Tournament. However if one of them reaches the final here and earns a berth this way instead (World Cup takes precedence) then Jakovenko would be in. Not only that, but Jakovenko himself is also still alive in the same side of the bracket, so if any of those three players reach the final (a combined 65.5% chance) then Jakovenko achieves a spot in the Candidates. It’s nice to be a 2-1 favorite for such a spot, and it helps him that Grischuk and Kramnik were both eliminated from the same half of the bracket making all three of their paths easier, but Karjakin is still a significant threat. His best bet would be to start by winning his own toss-up match against Eljanov and letting the rest sort itself out. Because winning is better than losing – we give extremely valuable advice here!