World Cup Recap: Day 10 (Round 4, first game)

Today provided the most drastic swings in the expected final results of the tournament that we’ve seen so far, despite nobody actually being eliminated, as half of the eight games produced decisive results. Two of the top three seeds, Veselin Topalov and Fabiano Caruana, lost their games today and now must win tomorrow to stay alive. Having entered the day among the favorites to reach the finals, these two losses were huge blows that dramatically shifted our projections. On the other hand, two other games involving top-eight seeds were won by the favorites, and these victors (Hikaru Nakamura and Ding Liren) saw huge gains in their own chances to reach the finals as a result. They are now the front runners on their respective sides of the bracket, and there is now roughly a 15% chance that they will face each other in the finals!

Here is how much ground everyone gained or lost in their quest for a berth in the finals (and correspondingly a berth in the 2016 Candidates Tournament):

Seed Player Rating New Odds of Reaching Finals Change
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2814.6 47.6% 15.1%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 2786.3 31.4% 15.0%
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2743.2 11.8% 7.0%
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2732.2 8.3% 5.2%
5  Wesley So (USA) 2767.1 12.8% 2.1%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 2741.2 6.1% 1.4%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2766.0 14.7% 1.3%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2743.4 7.1% 0.2%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2762.6 9.1% 0.1%
27  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2728.4 4.1% 0.0%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 2792.8 20.5% -1.1%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2742.6 5.7% -1.2%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 2731.5 0.9% -3.3%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 2739.6 1.0% -4.2%
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2792.7 8.0% -18.1%
1  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 2803.7 10.9% -19.5%

So how about tomorrow? For the sake of interesting scenarios it benefits fans that all four decisive wins came with the white pieces today, as that means everyone in a must-win situation tomorrow gets to fight for their survival with the advantage of the first move. Let’s look at the eight matchups individually.

Topalov’s side of the bracket:

Topalov vs. Svidler

Peter Svidler upset the number one seed with white in the first game, and is now a 69% favorite to advance to the quarterfinals. It’s not over yet, though. Topalov is still rated 72 points higher, plus has the advantage of the white pieces tomorrow, and our model gives him a 44% chance of achieving the equalizing win he needs to stay alive. If he wins, he’s considered a little better than a 70% favorite to win the tie breaks as well. So it’s not over yet, but Svidler certainly added a lot of intrigue to the top of the bracket with his win today! The winner of this match will face the winner of Ding Liren vs. Wei Yi in the next round. The loss was bad news for Topalov’s hopes of reaching the finals, with his odds now down under 11%, from a gaudy 30% before the game. Fortunately for Veselin any World Championship aspirations he may have did not suffer as a result, since if he doesn’t reach the finals here he will still qualify for the Candidates Tournament on rating. On the other hand Kramnik and Grischuk saw their World Championship hopes shaken by today’s result, as they are relying on a finals appearance by either Topalov or Giri in order to put one of them into the Candidates Tournament on rating.

Ding vs. Wei

This clash between two Chinese stars opened with tactical fireworks in a game that could easily have gone either way, but was ultimately won by the older and more experienced player. Favored by 55 rating points and leading 1-0, Ding is now considered a 94% favorite to advance by our model. On the other hand, Wei Yi has shown remarkable resilience, and a great ability to create sharp and unclear positions in order to give himself winning chances, and tomorrow he gets to try to do so with the white pieces, which our model sees as a 17% chance for a win given the ratings. If Wei does manage to force tie breaks, a 55 point ratings favorite is expected to advance 66% of the time in the rapid/blitz format of this tournament.

These two countrymen have some history, as one would expect, having now played nine classical games against each other. With today’s win, Ding is now +2, with three wins and one loss (they’ve drawn five times). On the other hand, those results go back to a draw in 2012 when Wei was just 13 years old and rated 2371. In the last two calendar years (so going back to January 2014) they have played six times, with three draws, two wins (now) for Ding, and one win for Wei (at the Chinese championships earlier this year, an event which Wei won).

This quadrant of the bracket (Topalov, Svidler, Ding, and Wei) will produce one semifinalist, and right now Ding is the most likely, at 57%, with Svidler just under 23%, Topalov just under 18%, and Wei at just over 2%.

Giri vs. Wojtaszek

A drawn game here didn’t change the status quo too much, but slightly benefited black (as first-game draws do in this format). Wojtaszek now has a 39% chance of pulling off overcoming his 52 point rating deficit to pull the upset. Since our model rates the white pieces as worth 40 rating points, we still see Giri as slightly more likely to win tomorrow should the game be decisive, predicting a 20% chance of a Giri win, a 17% chance of a Wojtaszek win, and a 63% chance of a draw. This is not player specific though, and given Giri’s reputation I imagine some observers might argue that the odds of a draw are higher than that. If it does go to tie breaks, Giri’s rating edge is enough to generate a 65% chance of victory in that phase, according to our model. The winner of this matchup will then face either Wesley So or Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

So vs. Vachier-Lagrave

Another of today’s draws, again we saw just a small shift in the odds, again in favor of the player who gets the white pieces tomorrow, which in this case is So. These two players are separated by a mere five rating points, and So entered the day as the smallest of favorites, at 52% to advance. With his draw today, he gained slightly and is now a 57% favorite to move on. Thanks to having the white pieces, our model gives So a 28% chance of winning to end things immediately, and just a 16% chance of being knocked out with a loss. The rest of the time the match would go to tie breaks where So’s five extra rating points earn him a 51% chance of advancing – basically a coin flip.

In this quadrant of the bracket, where noone yet has an scoreboard edge, the odds of earning the one available semifinal spot are simply an exercise in “sort by ratings”, with Giri the favorite at 37%, So at 27%, MVL at 20%, and Wojtaszek at 16%. If he gets that far, Giri would be a small favorite over Ding in the semis, but Ding would be favored over the other three, and so Ding is the most likely finalist in this half, but at only 31%. Things are pretty wide open, with seven of the eight players still having at least a 6% chance (sorry Wei Yi).

Nakamura’s side of the bracket:

Nakamura vs. Adams

Given that Nakamura is a 75 point ratings favorite and also holds a 1-0 lead, this is not a good spot for Adams. Our model gives him less than a 5% chance of reaching the quarterfinals at this point, down from 27.5% before today’s game. Even with the white pieces, we only expect a player surrendering that many rating points to win 16% of the time, and should he manage to do so he would have less than a 30% chance of winning the tie breaks – and that doesn’t even account for the fact that his specific opponent is the strongest in the field in rapid and blitz chess, and is almost certainly underrated by the model in tie break scenarios. It would be a complete shocker, at this point, if Nakamura somehow failed to reach the quarterfinals. Nakamura (or if a shocker occurs, perhaps Adams) will face the winner of Eljanov/Jakovenko in the next round.

Jakovenko vs. Eljanov

Jakovenko was the favorite by seed, but ratings said these two were exactly equal. Today’s result said the same, as the game was drawn. While Eljanov saw the end of his streak of perfection (he had won his first six World Cup games, before finally being held to a draw for the first time today) he still gains from the rule that draws with black are good, and is now a small 56% favorite to advance thanks to the benefit of the white pieces in tomorrow’s game. We see him winning 27% of the time, and losing 16% of the time. Otherwise it will go to tie breaks where the odds will return to 50/50.

In this quadrant, Nakamura is a commanding ratings favorite over the other three, and the only player with a win to his credit so far this round. As such he is a strong 69% favorite to reach the semifinals, with Eljanov at 16%, Jakovenko 13%, and Adams just 2%.

Caruana vs. Mamedyarov

Today’s other major upset was the last remaining player from the host country knocking off the #3 seed. Mamedyarov surrenders 50 rating points, but his 1-0 lead makes him a 75% favorite to advance. Like the other players who lost a game today, though, Caruana gets the white pieces tomorrow in his battle for survival. His effective 90 point rating advantage (including the value of the white pieces) gives him a 39% chance to win and force tie breaks, where he would be expected to win about 65% of the time. If he manages to do so, he would face either Karjakin or Andreikin in the quarterfinals. However his 1-0 deficit is a major hurdle that, as with Topalov, means his chances of reaching the final took a huge hit today. He now has just an 8% chance of reaching the final, down from 26%. Of course like Topalov this isn’t a huge problem for him, as he will be in the Candidates Tournament either way having already won the Grand Prix. It’s more of a problem for Jakovenko, who needs one of Caruana, Nakamura, or himself to win in order to reach the Candidates Tournament. Success for any of the other five players in the bracket (Mamedyarov in this case) hurts Jakovenko’s World Championship hopes.

Karjakin vs. Andreikin

Another draw, another small gain for the black player, which here was Karjakin, also the favorite by rating. Between his 38 point rating edge and the white pieces tomorrow, Karjakin is now up to a 67% chance of moving on to the next round. In particular he has a 36% chance to advance immediately with a win tomorrow, and just a 14% chance of being eliminated with a loss tomorrow. If we see another draw instead, Karjakin would rate as a 61% favorite in the tie breaks.

In this quadrant, Mamedyarov’s status as the only player with a win under his belt benefits him, of course, but his relatively low rating works against him and he’s actually only the second most semifinalist in the group. Karjakin is 36%, Mamedyarov 34.5%, Caruana 16%, and Andreikin 13.5%. With no clear favorite in this group, when the opposing group does have a clear leader (who’s also the highest rated player in the field), that leader is of course the most likely finalist. Nakamura is very close to becoming the first player tabbed as a true favorite (over the entire rest of his bracket combined) to reach the finals, at almost 48%. Only two other players, Karjakin and Mamedyarov, have better than a 10% chance of earning that spot.


World Cup Recap: Round 3

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%
97  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 2620.2 0.0% 0.0%
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%
37  Le Quang Liem (VIE) 2702.6 0.0% -0.7%
34  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 2705.6 0.0% -0.9%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 2782.0 16.4% -1.3%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 2793.5 21.6% -1.6%
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2730.6 0.0% -2.3%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2729.8 0.0% -2.4%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2747.8 0.0% -3.5%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 2779.2 0.0% -9.3%

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?

Favorite Rating Quarterfinal Odds Underdog Rating
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!

World Cup Recap: Day 8 (Round three, second classical game)

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:

Favorite Rating R4 Odds Gain/Loss Underdog Rating
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.

World Cup Recap: Day 7 (Round three, first game)

The third round opened with four decisive results in 16 games, as Caruana, Mamedyarov, and Karjakin affirmed their places as favorites, winning with the white pieces, while Eljanov achieved a slight upset victory (perhaps more surprising because not only was he lower rated than his opponent, he also played as black). Now their opponents will face must-win games tomorrow if they want to survive to force tie breaks.

Here is an overview of all 16 matches, the current favorite, match score, that favorite’s odds of winning, their opponent, and both players’ ratings.

Favorite Rating Score Odds Gain/Loss Underdog Rating
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2801.2 1 – 0 98.5% 9.0% 94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 2620.5
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2738.5 1 – 0 95.7% 21.9% 78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 2654.5
11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2767.2 1 – 0 93.7% 30.5% 22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 2721.4
26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2737.2 1 – 0 90.6% 52.4% 7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 2757.7
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 2812.7 1/2 – 1/2 84.7% -7.2% 97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 2617.4
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 2779.0 1/2 – 1/2 83.5% -1.4% 89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 2645.2
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2812.1 1/2 – 1/2 79.8% -0.7% 34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 2704.1
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 2789.7 1/2 – 1/2 75.0% 0.7% 29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 2713.0
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 2736.5 1/2 – 1/2 71.5% 1.5% 52.  Julio Granda (PER) 2677.6
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 2780.0 1/2 – 1/2 70.2% 1.8% 27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2727.0
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 2731.8 1/2 – 1/2 69.8% 1.9% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR) 2680.7
5.  Wesley So (USA) 2768.5 1/2 – 1/2 65.1% -6.9% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE) 2701.6
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2738.3 1/2 – 1/2 57.9% 5.0% 23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 2731.3
16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2725.8 1/2 – 1/2 54.1% 6.0% 17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2730.8
18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2729.7 1/2 – 1/2 52.5% 6.1% 15.  Michael Adams (ENG) 2739.7
12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2748.0 1/2 – 1/2 51.2% 6.3% 21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2762.0

Since the highest seed eliminated in the first two rounds was #9, we discussed yesterday what to expect in this round from the top eight seeds. Grischuk, at #7, was Eljanov’s victim and now must try to win with black to stay alive. We give him just a 17% chance to pull that off, and a 56% edge if it gets to tie breaks, so his odds of reaching the next round are quite low. As the other seven in the top group aren’t necessarily safe yet either, we now say there is just a 1.8% chance that all eight will advance to the fourth round. In fact even if we gave up on Grischuk entirely, the other seven would only project to have a 19.1% chance of all advancing. Not only will Grischuk probably be eliminated in the next two days, but at least one other top player probably will be as well, if not more. They’re still ratings favorites, but the opposition is getting tougher. If Grischuk is upset, it will be by a player now ranked 19th in the world in the live ratings. Not exactly a cupcake, and there’s no shame in being knocked out by a player of Eljanov’s caliber. Eljanov, by the way, has climbed the rankings thanks to a perfect 5-0 record so far in classical games at the World Cup, the only player in the field to still boast a perfect classical record at this point.

As the rating differentials shrink, and the field winnows out the players that never had a chance, the individual games begin to take on higher import as to how strongly they affect a player’s chances of reaching the finals and earning a spot in the Candidates Tournament. Even though only eight of the 32 players had decisive results today, almost half the field (14 players) saw their odds rise or fall by at least half a percentage point:

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Gain/Loss
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 6.2% 3.8%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 10.6% 3.8%
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 26.1% 1.6%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 4.8% 0.9%
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 4.8% 0.8%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 17.8% 0.8%
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2.8% 0.7%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 3.9% 0.5%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 26.4% -0.6%
5  Wesley So (USA) 8.9% -0.7%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 10.4% -1.1%
22  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 0.2% -1.5%
1  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 29.3% -3.0%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 1.0% -6.7%

Grischuk is not surprisingly the largest drop off. Not to kick him while he’s down, but in addition to dropping him to just a 1% chance of qualifying for the Candidates Tournament here at the World Cup, this loss also hurt in another way. His projected average rating for the year is now just half a point ahead of Kramnik, who now only needs to gain three more rating points (or see Grischuk lose three more… perhaps by pressing too hard for a needed win tomorrow, and ending up losing instead) in order to catch up for the third place spot on the ratings list. While only the top two from that list will earn a spot in the Candidates Tournament, this race for third remains critical because we currently calculate a 47.1% chance that one of Topalov or Giri, the current top two, will reach the World Cup finals, opening a Candidates berth for the current #3, which is now just barely still Grischuk.

World Cup Recap: Round 2

Round two of the World Cup concluded today with tie break matches, and the field has now been narrowed to 32 players. Once again we saw slightly fewer upsets than expected, as 13 of the 15 matches were won by the higher rated player, however we did still have one major surprise: Levon Aronian, seeded #9 and fresh off victory at the Sinquefield Cup, was ousted by Alexander Areshchenko. Throughout our reports on the second round we’ve assured you that it was likely you’d see at least one player in the top ten upset, and Aronian proved to be the victim. That being said, 24 of the 32 remaining players are supposed to be here, as top-32 seeds, where before the tournament began we expected to see just 21 or 22 such “chalk” results at this point.

In light of today’s results, 21 players saw their odds of eventually reaching the final (and earning a berth in the 2016 Candidates Tournament for their efforts) change by at least half a percentage point, although over half those players saw less than a full point of change. Aronian of course was the biggest surprise, as entering today’s tie breaks we thought he had an 8.6% chance of going all the way to the finals. That number is of course now zero, with other players taking control of his equity. If he had advanced, he would have faced Wei Yi in round three, and should he continue winning (with other matches all being won by favorites) he’d have then faced Ding Liren in round four and eventually Anish Giri in round six. Not surprisingly, those players are all among the top gainers on the day:

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Gain/Loss
4  Anish Giri (NED) 17.1% 3.4%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 27.0% 2.8%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 15.7% 2.3%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 3.6% 1.9%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 7.7% 1.3%
19  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 4.0% 1.1%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 6.8% 1.0%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 3.9% 0.9%
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2.5% 0.7%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 3.4% 0.7%
16  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2.1% 0.7%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 3.4% 0.5%
31  Laurent Fressinet (FRA) 0.0% -0.5%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 6.3% -0.7%
28  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 0.0% -0.9%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2.3% -0.9%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2.3% -0.9%
23  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 2.5% -0.9%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 11.5% -1.2%
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 24.5% -2.1%
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 0.0% -8.6%

Coming up in round three we have 32 players remaining. The field includes 13 of the top 16, and the entire top eight, by original seeding. What should we expect in terms of round three upsets? Most likely about nine of the 13 remaining seeds who were “supposed” to reach round four will do so. It could be eight or 10, even seven or 11, but nine is most likely. As for the top eight seeds, the original favorites to compete in the quarterfinals (round five), we should see at least one lose. There is only a 13% chance that when round three concludes, Aronian will remain the highest seed eliminated. There is even a fair chance of more than one of these top eight players losing – we project an average of 6.2 top eight seeds to reach round four.

Here are all 16 matches that begin tomorrow, with the favorite’s odds of victory shown:

Favorite Rating Odds Underdog Rating
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 2815.5 91.9% 97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 2614.6
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 2798.7 89.5% 94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 2623.0
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 2781.0 84.9% 89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 2643.2
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 2813.6 80.5% 34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 2702.6
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 2790.9 74.3% 29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 2711.8
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 2734.8 73.8% 78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 2658.2
5.  Wesley So (USA) 2769.5 72.0% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE) 2700.6
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 2737.5 70.0% 52.  Julio Granda (PER) 2676.6
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 2780.8 68.5% 27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2726.2
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 2732.8 67.9% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR) 2679.7
11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2762.8 63.2% 22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 2725.8
7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 2763.5 61.8% 26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2731.4
21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 2761.8 55.1% 12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 2748.2
15.  Michael Adams (ENG) 2739.8 53.6% 18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 2729.6
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 2738.6 52.9% 23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 2731.0
17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 2731.0 51.8% 16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 2725.6

World Cup Recap: Day 5 (Round 2, second classical game)

It was an elimination day at the World Cup today, and 17 players were dispatched from the tournament. Some were expected, as five of the top ten seeds moved forward without the need for tie breaks, while others were shocking (see Sethuraman upsetting Harikrishna!)

So let us begin by looking at the decisive matches. This table shows the 34 players who do not face tie breaks tomorrow, either because they earned a rest day as victors, or because they were eliminated from the event entirely. Also shown is the final score of the two classical games, and how much the winner’s odds of advancing improved from just today’s game. Of course all winners have a 100% chance of advancing now, so a 25% improvement (for instance) would indicate that the player was a 75% favorite to advance after the results of yesterday’s first game. This table is sorted from most to least surprising, based on what we already knew when today’s games began:

Winner Score Gain/Loss Today Loser
78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND) 1 1/2 – 1/2 68.8% 14.  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND)
94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 40.9% 99.  Sandro Mareco (ARG)
97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 37.1% 33.  Wang Hao (CHN)
89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 1 1/2 – 1/2 33.6% 25.  David Navara (CZE)
21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 1 1/2 – 1/2 24.5% 44.  Gabriel Sargissian (ARM)
29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 24.5% 93.  Wen Yang (CHN)
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 1 1/2 – 1/2 13.9% 65.  Sergei Zhigalko (BLR)
27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 1 1/2 – 1/2 6.0% 38.  Anton Korobov (UKR)
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 1 1/2 – 1/2 5.3% 45.  Vladislav Artemiev (RUS)
23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 1 1/2 – 1/2 4.5% 42.  Maxim Rodshtein (ISR)
26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2 – 0 3.6% 90.  Alexander Ipatov (TUR)
18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 1 1/2 – 1/2 3.4% 82.  Hrant Melkumyan (ARM)
5.  Wesley So (USA) 2 – 0 2.7% 60.  Csaba Balogh (HUN)
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 1 1/2 – 1/2 2.7% 59.  Lázaro Bruzón Batista (CUB)
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 1 1/2 – 1/2 2.7% 57. Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS)
52.  Julio Granda (PER) 2 – 0 1.8% 116.  Cristobal Villagra Henriquez  IM (CHI)
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 1 1/2 – 1/2 1.7% 67.  Rauf Mamedov (AZE)

Sethuraman is the only true upset on the list after factoring in yesterday’s games. Lu and Guseinov upset much higher rated opponents to advance to round 3, but they got their wins yesterday and merely had to draw today to clinch their match results. That wasn’t a given, but it was likely enough that they entered the day as favorites. Interesting, perhaps, is that only three matches were decided by 2 – 0 scores. In many cases a player who had won yesterday accepted a draw in a position that, had they needed to, they probably could have won today. This includes Kramnik, who had a convincing position against Bruzon when the draw was agreed. It will be interesting to see whether he regrets giving away those five rating points (he lost 1.6 for the draw, when he would have gained 3.4 with a win), since as we discussed yesterday he is very close to catching Grischuk for third place in the average ratings list, which could be worth a spot in the Candidates Tournament should Topalov or Giri reach the World Cup finals (now a 46% proposition).

Those of you doing the math at home have presumably already realized that 17 decisive matches means 15 matches that will go to tie breaks tomorrow. There aren’t really too many big surprises on this list, as 12 of these matches saw both yesterday’s first game and today’s second game drawn. The odds for an eventual winner in these 12 matches only shifted between 3 and 6 percentage points with the second draw, for the most part all the same people are still favored by about the same amounts.

In only three cases did a player bounce back from defeat yesterday with a win today, and force their way into the tie breaks. Two of these, Karjakin and Adams, were high seeds who recovered from upset losses, and are now favored to win tomorrow. The third, Vovk, remains an underdog, but his chances now are certainly much better than the zero percent chance he would have had he drawn or lost today. Here are all 15 matches, with the favorite’s odds of winning tomorrow’s tie breaks, and how much ground that favorite gained or lost on today’s result:

Favorite Odds Gain/Loss Today Underdog
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 86.5% 4.2% 63.  Sam Shankland (USA)
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 82.5% 3.5% 61.  Alexander Motylev (RUS)
7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 76.3% -3.0% 58.  Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS)
9.  Levon Aronian (ARM) 76.6% -3.2% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR)
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 73.7% 3.2% 74.  Bassem Amin (EGY)
11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 75.7% 39.7% 54.  Alexander Onischuk (USA)
12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 77.0% 3.1% 53.  Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE)
15.  Michael Adams (ENG) 66.7% 41.3% 50.  Viktor Laznicka (CZE)
16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 62.8% 3.9% 49.  Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (GER)
17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 69.3% -4.6% 48.  Ilia Smirin (ISR)
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 67.9% -4.9% 46.  Hou Yifan (CHN)
22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 65.9% 3.6% 43.  Igor Lysyj (RUS)
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 75.1% -21.6% 88.  Yuri Vovk (UKR)
28.  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 56.1% 4.9% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE)
34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 51.2% 5.7% 31.  Laurent Fressinet (FRA)

Finally let us consider the broader point: who will the two finalists ultimately be that earn their places in next year’s Candidates Tournament? The full odds for all players left in the field are over on our main World Cup page, but here we will look at who saw their odds shift the most. Using our threshold of half a percentage point gained or lost, there were four players who saw their odds improve significantly on today’s result, and 11 who took significant hits to their chances.

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Gain/Loss
1  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 32.0% 6.6%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 5.8% 3.3%
21  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 7.1% 1.8%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 2.7% 1.7%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 4.4% -0.5%
25  David Navara (CZE) 0.0% -0.6%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 3.2% -0.6%
17  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 1.7% -0.7%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 6.4% -0.8%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 12.7% -0.9%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 3.0% -0.9%
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 8.6% -1.1%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 1.7% -1.2%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 13.7% -1.9%
14  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 0.0% -2.4%

Topalov’s gain is by far the largest single-day improvement we’ve seen yet in anyone’s chances here. Why was today such a good day for him? Two key results occurred. First of all, he won his game (after drawing yesterday) to avoid tie breaks and guarantee a spot in round three, which was previously just an 86% proposition according to our model. That by itself improved his odds to 29.5%, but there are still 2.5 additional percentage points of improvement we need to explain. His other key gain was thanks to Lu Shanglei, who followed up yesterday’s upset win over Wang Hao with a second victory today, clinching his spot as Topalov’s round three opponent. Dodging what we previously saw as a 37% chance Wang would survive brings Topalov’s odds of reaching the finals up to 31%. The remaining percentage point is a subtle mix of small factors, but those two games, Topalov and Lu’s victories, were both great news for Veselin’s chances (and for those such as Grischuk and Kramnik who are hoping Topalov reaches the final in order to free up a spot for someone else to qualify by rating).

Today was not a spectacular day for fans of upsets. We saw Sethuraman over Harikrishna, but otherwise the top players did marginally better than expected. Navara, at #25, was the next highest seed to fall, and Karajakin and Adams both dodged bullets in must-win games. 12 of the top 32 seeds are now safely in round 3, and we expect to see 10 or 11 more get through out of tomorrow’s 15 tie break matches. With five of the top 10 seeds in action tomorrow it’s still likely we’ll see at least one fall, but their collective odds have improved to 31% that all 10 will advance (and there’s even a 1.4% chance we’ll see them all in round 4). We are seeing some upsets, which was inevitable, but no more than expected. If you were hoping for carnage in the early rounds it doesn’t seem to be happening. That said, the odds are slightly better than 1/3000 that all five of the top 10 seeds in action could lose, so there’s that!

World Cup Recap: Day 4

As round two begins, things start to get serious. While round one was fun, as we saw in previous updates it had relatively little impact on who will eventually reach the finals. Now in round two the favorites are in much more danger of potentially being upset, and those odds can shift much more rapidly. Only once in the first three days of this tournament did a player see their odds of reaching the finals rise of fall by more than two percentage points (Gelfand, when he lost on tie breaks and his odds fell from 2.5% to zilch.) Today eight different players saw their odds shift by more than two percentage points. Here are those eight, along with everyone else whose odds shifted at least half a percentage point, how much their odds changed today, and what their new odds are (to see other players’ chances, or to see odds of actually winning the event, remember that we keep those numbers updated on our main World Cup page):

Seed Player New Odds of Reaching Finals Change in Odds
3  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 26.2% 5.5%
8  Ding Liren (CHN) 13.8% 4.2%
6  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 13.6% 3.2%
5  Wesley So (USA) 9.4% 2.4%
20  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 4.9% 1.6%
23  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 3.6% 1.5%
18  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 3.7% 1.4%
27  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 2.3% 1.0%
26  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 2.9% 0.8%
24  Wei Yi (CHN) 2.9% 0.6%
38  Anton Korobov (UKR) 0.1% -0.5%
33  Wang Hao (CHN) 0.4% -0.7%
10  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 3.0% -0.9%
12  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 3.9% -1.0%
7  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 7.3% -1.1%
14  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 2.4% -1.1%
25  David Navara (CZE) 0.6% -1.4%
9  Levon Aronian (ARM) 9.7% -1.5%
15  Michael Adams (ENG) 0.9% -2.4%
2  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 24.2% -3.1%
4  Anish Giri (NED) 15.6% -3.2%
11  Sergey Karjakin (RUS) 2.5% -4.8%

We can see that at this stage even a draw is dangerous for someone who previously rated as a strong contender, especially with white. At the bottom of the list we see Nakamura and Giri dropping substantially as a price for merely drawing with the white pieces, and giving their lower rated opponents improved upset chances. Aronian drew as well, albeit with black, and earned the fifth largest drop in odds for his trouble. Karjakin and Adams, of course, lost their games and will both face must win games tomorrow just to try to force tie breaks (though they’ll both at least have white when they need to press).

At the top we see the beneficiaries of these drops. Kramnik and Caruana’s gains were at least as much a result of Nakamura’s draw and Karjakin’s loss as of their own victories. So and Ding gain because Giri and Aronian fall. The top ten seeds actually have a better combined chance of providing both finalists now than they did after yesterday’s games, so for the moment when one drops off it’s not the lower seed who beat them that benefits, it’s the other top seeds who become less likely to have to face as strong of opponents in later rounds.

As for the more immediate issue of round three, here is an updated view of all 32 matches, with the current favorite (in some cases not the same player who was favored yesterday), the current match score, and both the odds that the current favorite will advance and how much better (or in a couple spots worse) those odds are than they were before today’s game:

Player Score Odds Gain/Loss Today Underdog
3.  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 1-0 98.3% 13.7% 67.  Rauf Mamedov (AZE)
52.  Julio Granda (PER) 1-0 98.2% 11.1% 116.  Cristobal Villagra Henriquez  IM (CHI)
8.  Ding Liren (CHN) 1-0 97.3% 15.2% 57. Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS)
6.  Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) 1-0 97.3% 15.4% 59.  Lázaro Bruzón Batista (CUB)
5.  Wesley So (USA) 1-0 97.3% 18.0% 60.  Csaba Balogh (HUN)
24.  Wei Yi (CHN) 1-0 96.7% 17.8% 88.  Yuri Vovk (UKR)
18.  Leinier Dominguez Perez (CUB) 1-0 96.6% 18.2% 82.  Hrant Melkumyan (ARM)
26.  Pavel Eljanov (UKR) 1-0 96.4% 19.4% 90.  Alexander Ipatov (TUR)
23.  Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) 1-0 95.5% 28.4% 42.  Maxim Rodshtein (ISR)
20.  Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL) 1-0 94.7% 26.2% 45.  Vladislav Artemiev (RUS)
27.  Dmitry Andreikin (RUS) 1-0 94.0% 37.1% 38.  Anton Korobov (UKR)
1.  Veselin Topalov (BUL) 1/2-1/2 86.1% -1.5% 65.  Sergei Zhigalko (BLR)
2.  Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 1/2-1/2 82.4% -7.1% 63.  Sam Shankland (USA)
9.  Levon Aronian (ARM) 1/2-1/2 79.8% -0.5% 56.  Alexander Areshchenko (UKR)
7.  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 1/2-1/2 79.3% -0.7% 58.  Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS)
4.  Anish Giri (NED) 1/2-1/2 79.0% -7.0% 61.  Alexander Motylev (RUS)
29.  Peter Leko (HUN) 1/2-1/2 75.5% 0.6% 93.  Wen Yang (CHN)
21.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) 1/2-1/2 75.5% 0.6% 44.  Gabriel Sargissian (ARM)
50.  Viktor Laznicka (CZE) 1-0 74.7% 45.0% 15.  Michael Adams (ENG)
12.  Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS) 1/2-1/2 73.9% -6.9% 53.  Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE)
17.  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 1/2-1/2 73.9% 0.7% 48.  Ilia Smirin (ISR)
19.  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) 1/2-1/2 72.7% 1.2% 46.  Hou Yifan (CHN)
10.  Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) 1/2-1/2 70.5% -7.1% 74.  Bassem Amin (EGY)
14.  Pendyala Harikrishna (IND) 1/2-1/2 68.8% -7.8% 78.  S.P. Sethuraman (IND)
89.  Gadir Guseinov (AZE) 1-0 66.4% 44.0% 25.  David Navara (CZE)
54.  Alexander Onischuk (USA) 1-0 64.0% 43.4% 11.  Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
97.  Lu Shanglei (CHN) 1-0 62.9% 42.7% 33.  Wang Hao (CHN)
22.  Yu Yangyi (CHN) 1/2-1/2 62.3% -6.7% 43.  Igor Lysyj (RUS)
94.  Anton Kovalyov (CAN) 1/2-1/2 59.1% 5.1% 99.  Sandro Mareco (ARG)
16.  Peter Svidler (RUS) 1/2-1/2 59.0% -6.7% 49.  Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (GER)
31.  Laurent Fressinet (FRA) 1/2-1/2 54.5% 5.9% 34.  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)
28.  Nikita Vitiugov (RUS) 1/2-1/2 51.2% -6.8% 37.  Le Quang Liem (VIE)

Notice that as one would expect, the biggest gainers from today’s action are not the biggest overall favorites, as in order to gain the most ground you had to start out as an underdog. Players like Guseinov, Onischuk, and Lu who pulled off surprising upsets today improved their chances immensely and are in fact now favored to advance, but their higher rated opponents still have an opportunity to bounce back with wins tomorrow, and if they do their rating will make them the favorites again come tie breaks.

One other point of note is a check-in on the top players’ updated live ratings. While it’s easy to focus exclusively on results here at the World Cup, which will directly determine two berths in the 2016 Candidates Tournament (for the two finalists), the results here also impact who will earn two other Candidate spots (for highest average ratings among players not otherwise in the field). We reviewed the status of that race 10 days ago in great detail, and concluded that Topalov was essentially a lock and Giri was very likely to earn the other spot, but that maybe if Giri struggled badly he might risk being caught by Grischuk who was rather comfortably in third place. And third place is important, because if Topalov or Giri reaches the World Cup final, then “third” becomes second by default.

Well, Giri has struggled a little, dropping 5.3 rating points so far with two draws in his three classical games against lower rated opposition. While this opened a window for Grischuk, he has utterly failed to take advantage. Instead, Grischuk has drawn all three of his games and lost 9.1 rating points! Now not only does it look almost impossibly hopeless for him to catch Giri for second place, he suddenly has to worry about defending third place against Kramnik (who has had a good event so far, gaining 5.4 rating points himself!) At this point we still project Grischuk to finish ahead of Kramnik, but the margin has grown awfully thin. If Kramnik can gain just 8 additional rating points (net) on Grischuk before the end of November, he would move into third place in our projections! When we say “net”, it means that either Kramnik gaining additional points or Grischuk losing additional points would serve the purpose. Given that we currently calculate a significant 41% chance of either Topalov or Giri in fact reaching the World Cup final, this suddenly competitive battle for third place on the average ratings list carries strong importance. We’ll keep a close eye on the situation. If Grischuk chooses a strategy of trying to draw all his classical games, and utilizing his immense rapid and blitz talents (he’s #3 in the world in rapid, #6 in blitz, and “only” #11 in classical) to advance through the World Cup he may have to hope it pays off fully and gets him all the way to the finals, because with the classical rating points he’ll continue to lose in the process reaching the World Cup final might end up being his only hope of reaching the Candidates Tournament, should Kramnik continue playing well.