World Cup Recap: Semifinals, Game 1

Peter Svidler made a huge move today, turning the black pieces into a win against Anish Giri, and took over as a substantial favorite to reach the finals. He needs just a draw tomorrow, with the first move advantage to boot, and he would earn a berth not only in the World Cup finals, but also in the 2016 Candidates Tournament. In our other matchup nothing quite so decisive occurred, but the slight ratings favorite (Sergey Karjakin) did draw with the black pieces, improving his odds a little further at Pavel Eljanov’s expense.

Here are each of the four players’ updated odds of reaching the finals, how much those odds improved or dropped on today’s results, and their odds of winning the overall tournament. Note that unlike previous rounds, each player’s gains directly matched their opponent’s drop, as things are now fully one-on-one for those two spots:

Seed Player Rating New Odds of Reaching Finals Change Odds of Winning
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2739.5 87.1% 57.4% 37.5%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2764.0 59.4% 4.3% 33.5%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2752.0 40.6% -4.3% 21.1%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 2789.8 12.9% -57.4% 7.9%

Giri’s loss, and massive drop in odds, of course does not hurt him too badly in the long run. He is still almost guaranteed to reach the Candidates Tournament on the strength of his rating, barring an absolutely catastrophic collapse over the next two months. He would have to lose at least 50 net rating points relative to Kramnik (or 53 relative to Grischuk) to actually fall out of second place on the average ratings list. It’s not technically impossible, but it’s definitely not likely. So the players most hurt by Giri’s loss today are actually Kramnik and Grischuk, who now have an 87.1% chance of being left just battling for the relative meaningless third spot in the average ratings list, rather than the much more important second spot. Both are now huge underdogs to reach the Candidates Tournament.

We do give Giri roughly a 20% chance of winning tomorrow’s game to add intrigue back to that matchup, and everything is on the line in the other match, which is currently tied. What will happen in the second classical game of the semifinals? Will we see zero, one, or two tie break matches in this round? Stay tuned, and we’ll find out tomorrow.

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