World Cup Recap: Round 4

Four tie break matches were played today, and when the dust had settled we were left with just eight players remaining in the field at the 2015 World Cup. Two more top ten seeds saw their tournament hopes disappear, in Ding Liren and Dmitry Jakovenko, with the latter’s hopes of a berth in next year’s Candidates Tournament now entirely in the hands of Hikaru Nakamura. Also leaving us today were Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Dmitry Andreikin.

The eight remaining players are each just two more matches away from a berth in the finals, which would be enough to earn a place in the Candidates Tournament next year. As we get closer to the prize, a surprising result grows more likely. Only half of the remaining field was seeded within the top 16, so four players have overachieved their seed’s “chalk” results by two rounds already. Local favorite Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (seeded #19) and 16 year old superprodigy Wei Yi (#24) are among the underdog contenders still alive, along with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (#21) and Pavel Eljanov (#26). When the tournament began, these players had a combined 10.5% chance of reaching the finals (that’s just adding their totals together, ignoring that those probabilities of course weren’t independent). Now their chances add up to 70.4%!

Two more players are one round deeper than they were “supposed” to get. #16 seed Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin (#11). And at the top are two players whose seed say they “should” not only be here, but advance: #2 seed Hikaru Nakamura and #4 Anish Giri. Even the players who are now favored have of course seen their odds rise greatly as they’ve survived (so far) this grueling event. Here are each remaining player’s odds of reaching the finals on a round by round basis:

Seed Player Initial After Rd 1 After Rd 2 After Rd 3 Current
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 27.0% 27.3% 27.0% 32.5% 49.9%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 18.7% 18.8% 17.1% 21.6% 40.5%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 4.9% 5.6% 6.3% 8.9% 25.5%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 7.2% 7.2% 6.8% 13.4% 23.0%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 1.7% 2.3% 3.6% 4.2% 17.8%
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 1.8% 1.8% 2.1% 3.0% 16.2%
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2.7% 2.9% 4.0% 4.9% 14.4%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 1.2% 2.0% 2.3% 6.9% 12.7%

We can see that winning the first three rounds had relatively little impact on players’ chances. Even surviving round three left a lot of work to be done, and lower rated players remained unlikely to pull it off. However we see, with both favorites and underdogs, that players who had barely gained any ground at all through the first rounds all skyrocketed when they survived the fourth round as well. The winner of the match between Svidler and Wei will have chances in the range of 34%, way higher than either player currently boasts. If Nakamura were guaranteed a win over Eljanov he would be a 69% favorite, rather than a coin flip, for the final. In other words, it’s crunch time. As hard as it was to get to this point – ask Topalov or Caruana about that – the challenges are only beginning. These next matches are the most important yet!

Here is a look at the bracket, and how each of the players odds of reaching first the semifinals, and then the finals, map out. Hopefully this presentation makes it clearer where the numbers above come from by showing the exact path each player must traverse, and who they are most likely to face in the upcoming rounds should they survive this one.


Given that our two most common topics in this blog are the world championship cycle and young prodigies, it is taking tremendous willpower to remain fair to the other seven players in the field and not just scream about how amazing Wei Yi’s results are so far. However really, when it comes down to it, what more is there to say? He’s just 16 years old, and he is more likely to compete in the Candidates Tournament than you are to roll a seven on two dice. It’s crazy that he’s doing so well in this incredibly difficult tournament, but at the same time this tournament is tough enough that it’s really no less impressive what the other seven players have accomplished to be here.

So instead let’s just close with a look at who were the biggest winners and losers in today’s action specifically:

Seed Player Rating Change in Odds Today New Odds of Reaching Finals
4  Anish Giri (NED) 2792.1 16.6% 40.5%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 2737.2 10.7% 17.8%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2765.4 9.0% 23.0%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2743.8 5.9% 12.7%
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2733.4 2.1% 16.2%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2768.0 -0.7% 25.5%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2813.6 -1.5% 49.9%
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2744.2 -1.8% 14.4%
27  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2729.0 -5.2% 0.0%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2742.2 -6.4% 0.0%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 2741.9 -6.6% 0.0%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 2780.6 -22.1% 0.0%

It’s not particularly confusing, the four players who won tie breaks today are the top four gainers, while the players they eliminated saw the biggest drop in their chances. No real surprises here, but we’ve presented these numbers every day so far and feel we would be remiss if we didn’t do so today. Something else that should be pretty safe to say is that anyone who earns a victory in one of tomorrow’s four games will find themselves at the top of tomorrow’s chart, and anyone who loses a game tomorrow will take a major hit to their odds and drop to the bottom of this chart for the day.

Let the quarterfinals begin!


8 thoughts on “World Cup Recap: Round 4

  1. Indeed, a murky round → five Top 10 elite GMs has fallen.

    Just like in previous round, here are my intuitive guesses. Wei Yi will turn the tables on Peter Svidler on classical stage. The rest may or may not be extended to tie breaks as follows:
    Giri (/MVL) Karjakin (/Mamedyarov) Naka (/Eljanov)

    IFFY the Quarterfinals goes as I project here, I look forward to the Giri vs. Wei Yi tie. It’s a match-up between a master of defender and an aggressive, attacking player !!


      • Indeed, that particular game felt very much like a case of experience making the difference. The question is: has Wei gained enough experience from that loss and other results since to earn a different result this next time around?


      • Interestingly enough, it seems that so far Wei Yi has been following in the footsteps of Carlsen and Fischer, both of whom qualified for the Candidates at ~15/16. If history repeats itself again, we may be seeing Wei Yi in the Candidates soon.


      • It’s not that I underestimate Svidler, but I watched his last games, IMHO Topalov just destroyed himself there. Especially in their last game, Peter was a picture of a guy in panic mode, pacing the hall here and there!. He was also lucky against Radjabov. Luck cannot just continue, thu Wei was also lucky from weak moves of his opponents, albeit minor.

        On the other side, if Peter defeat Wei, then I am bound to accept Anish overall impression of Chinese chess that it’s not of high quality. Let’s wait and see . .


  2. brevity does not mean indifference, but i do professional knowledge management work for a living, so write all day at times for business, so quickly. considered comments and time therein is a luxury when not client work.

    please. i so love your work. when and if you come to the usa, please stay at my home or let me take you to dinner. you are so special as a person.

    i meditate daily, and so trust my own perception. am i perfect? no. but my gut says you are a gem.


  3. i thought you were european. my! tacoma, WA. lived in portland on my way back to the northwest, after twenty years in seattle. seattle–way over-rated.

    portland. so loved running in forest park, got up to 24 miles… thirty miler on hold, not due to fitness but my work spends me totally, need energy to do more.

    traffic in portland is nuts. not much difference between east of river and detroit. been all over usa, so know……….. what do you do in eugene? my top client the last two years is in portland, work remotely, but am scaling back from them but continues……. long story.

    yasser has been to my house. pick him up at airport, many long walks, good friend now, 20,000 emails latter since 2002.

    pls see accolates at my website, with his note. he wrote me, and asked me to send him ALL his games with the former WCC’s. which i did–for his book duals. ‘did i miss any?’ ‘nope. you got em all’. compliment, since the best man at his wedding was john donaldson, who has ALL the games of everyone!


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