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!