On several occasions already, I’ve mentioned the Prediction Contest that was organized for the World Cup. In fact, I’ve probably started to bore my readers who couldn’t care less what my predictions were. But I hope you’ll indulge my whims a little bit as I update the ferocious competition to win a signed chessboard. (Woo hoo!)
The Prediction Contest attracted 809 “serious” entries (some were apparently discarded as spam or not serious). As you might guess, the people’s choice for winning the tournament was the #1 seed, Levon Aronian (chosen by 29 percent of the entrants, including me). The next most popular choice was #3 Kramnik (the choice of 16.1 percent). The third most popular was #6 Hikaru Nakamura (8.3 percent).
This last choice may seem a bit surprising, but I think that Nakamura probably got an assist from the large contingent of Americans who entered the contest. Out of the 809 entrants, 122 come from the U.S., by far the most from any country. (#2 is Norway, with 62 entrants, and #3 is Russia with 38 entrants.)
After two rounds, the leader of the contest is Jon Kåre Myrene of Norway, who scored 100 points out of 128. (Note: round one games were worth 1 point, round two games were worth 2 points.) Next is Samir Karimov of Azerbaijan, with 99 points. There is a very interesting name in the group of 17 people tied for 13th place, with 97 points: none other than Jan Ludvig Hammer of Norway, who is still playing in the tournament!
As far as I could tell, Hammer is the only competitor in the tournament who is also competing in the Prediction Competition. It stands to reason that he would do well, because he probably knows the competition better than most of us casual chess fans. If you’re wondering, Hammer picked himself to beat Movsesian in round one, but with an excess of modesty he predicted that he would lose to Navara in round two.
There aren’t any really well-known U.S. players entered in the Prediction Competition. Perhaps the biggest name (certainly a name you have read here before) is FIDE Master Yian Liou, one of our most promising junior players, who is doing quite nicely with 92 points, which ties him for 171st place. I should also mention Ashish Mukharji, a frequent reader of this blog, who is right in the middle of the pack, tied for 427th place with 88 points. My fellow chess blogger, Michael Aigner, is doing almost as badly as I am: he has 82 points and is tied for 685th place. And finally, if you look way down in 744th place, you’ll find me with 79 points.
Am I actually out of contention yet? Strangely, I think that the answer may be no. Because of the points structure, there is a premium on picking the winner correctly (128 points), the second-place finisher correctly (64 points), and the third and fourth place finishers correctly (32 each). Because of this, I think I can still catch up to anybody who does not have the same Final Four that I do (Aronian, Svidler, Gelfand, and Nakamura). Ironically, one person who is definitely out of the running for first place is… Jon Ludvig Hammer. He made the safe choice of Levon Aronian to win the tournament, but he made the very risky choice of Ruslan Ponomariov to finish second. As we know, Ponomariov has been eliminated, and that will take away a huge 64 points from Hammer’s entry in the Prediction Contest.
Finally, you might wonder which player in the tournament has been the biggest surprise so far? I suggested in my last post that Daniil Dubov’s victory over Ponomariov was the biggest upset so far in the tournament. However, the most unlikely player to reach the third round was Baskaran Adhiban, who was chosen by only 3 entrants out of 809 (0.4 percent) to get to this stage. Next is Wei Yi, who was picked by 11 out of 809 (1.4 percent). And there’s a tie for third between Dubov and Yuri Krivoruchko, who were chosen by 17 out of 809 (2.1 percent).
Okay, that’s all for the Prediction Contest. Now, back to the real games!
[Addendum: Today's most sensational news is that the #32 seed, Evgeny Tomashevsky, has won his game as Black against the top seed, Levon Aronian! If Tomashevsky can complete the upset with a draw (or better) as White tomorrow, that will of course have a huge effect on the Prediction Contest. The 29 percent who chose Aronian, including me, would be able to kiss our chances of winning goodbye. Nevertheless, I will be rooting for Tomashevsky. Watching an exciting and unpredictable tournament is more important to me than winning the contest.]