Strong fields set for Tata Steel 2019

by Macauley Peterson
12/4/2018 – The field is complete for the 81st Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee which takes place from January 11th to 27th, 2019. The organisers have announced the final participants — qualifiers from the Association of Chess Professionals. In the top 'Masters' group, World Champion Magnus Carlsen is back and will be fighting to keep his World Number 1 spot against fellow-2800 players Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Ding Liren. The 'Challengers' includes World Junior Champ Parham Maghsoodloo, and other young up-and-comers Praggnanandhaa, Andrey Esipenko and Vincent Keymer. | Photos: Alina l'Ami

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81st Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee

Last January, the 80th Tata Steel tournament was won by Magnus Carlsen for a record sixth time. After 13 rounds, he was tied with Anish Giri for first place with 9 points out of 13 but prevailed in the subsequent tiebreak match. It was the first time that a playoff was used in the tournament — previously they crowned joint winners.

Carlsen surpassed the previous record set by Viswanathan Anand who won the tournament five times. Other repeat winners include Max Euwe, Viktor Korchnoi, Levon Aronian and Lajos Portisch who each won four times, and Garry Kasparov to took first in Wijk aan Zee on three occasions.

The Masters

From January 11th to 27th, 2019, the small Dutch seaside village of Wijk aan Zee will once again take centre stage. This year's field of players is especially attractive, featuring three world champions — Carlsen and Anand are back, joined by Vladimir Kramnik. 2800-players Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Ding Liren, plus Anish Giri make for six of the top ten in the World. 

Anand and Kramnik

Former World Champions back in action in January

But the supporting cast is also interesting. Teimour Radjabov has not played since April's Shamkir Chess, Ian Nepomniachtchi had a strong 2018 including his Dortmund win, and it was a breakout year for US Champion Sam Shankland. Top young talents, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Vladimir Fedoseev and Vidit Gujrathi will all be making their 'Master' debut. The last player announced today was Hungarian Richard Rapport, the next ACP qualifier after Shankland who was previously invited. Rapport played previously in 2014 and 2017 but finished a disappointing 11th and 13th places respectively.

Players in the Masters 2019

  Name Fed Rating World rank
GM Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2835 1
GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 2817 3
GM Ding, Liren CHN 2813 4
GM Giri, Anish NED 2783 5
GM Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2777 7
GM Anand, Viswanathan IND 2773 8
GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS 2763 13
GM Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2757 14
GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof POL 2738 19
GM Rapport, Richard HUN 2732 24
GM Shankland, Samuel USA 2724 29
GM Fedoseev, Vladimir RUS 2719 32
GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi IND 2701 44
GM Van Foreest, Jorden NED 2614 194
Elo rating average : 2753
Category : 21

The Challengers

We can only praise the selection of players in the Challengers group as well. Anton Korobov, Erwin l'Ami and Evgeny Bareev are this year's crop of veteran grandmasters. The latter played for many years for Russia and at his peak in 2003 was number four in the world rankings. Later, Bareev worked as a coach for the Russian Chess Federation and since 2015 he has played under the flag of Canada where he emigrated. Erwin l'Ami is a regular second to Anish Giri (and has also proven his profound opening credentials in a string ChessBase video series!).

There are two women: Elisabeth Pähtz is already one of the 'experienced' players though just 30 years old and Dinara Saduakassova from Kazakhstan is the 22-year-old world number 18 among women.

Pragg and Paehtz

Pragg and Paehtz


Stefan Kuipers and Lucas van Foreest represent the Dutch colours in the Challengers field. Van Foreest follows in the footsteps of his older brother Jorden. Among the other debutants are two very young players, Vincent Keymer and Praggnanandhaa, both about the same age.

Keymer is the biggest German talent who surprisingly won the Grenke Open last year and also garnered attention at the Isle of Man Open with a victory over Boris Gelfand. So far, however, the young IM has not had so much opportunity to distinguish himself in invitational tournaments.

And it will not be easy, because there are quite a few other young and hungry players in the field: Benjamin Gledura, Andrey Esipenko and junior world champion Parham Maghsoodloo will provide tough competition. The final player — the ACP qualifier — was added today: 22-year-old Maksim Chigaev.

Players in the Challengers 2019

  Name Fed Rating
GM Korobov, Anton UKR 2698
GM Maghsoodloo, Parham IRI 2688
GM Kovalev, Vladislav BLR 2683
GM Bareev, Evgeny CAN 2650
GM L'Ami, Erwin NED 2642
GM Gledura, Benjamin HUN 2621
GM Chigaev, Maksim RUS 2606
GM Esipenko, Andrey RUS 2593
GM Praggnanandhaa R IND 2530
IM Keymer, Vincent GER 2508
GM Van Foreest, Lucas NED 2500
IM Paehtz, Elisabeth GER 2487
IM Saduakassova, Dinara KAZ 2472
IM Kuipers, Stefan NED 2467
Average rating : 2582
Category : 14

FIDE ratings of December 2018


As has become traditional, there will be two 'Chess on Tour' days, this year in Alkmaar and Leiden.

  • 12 January 2019 - Round 1
  • 13 January 2019 - Round 2
  • 14 January 2019 - Round 3
  • 15 January 2019 - Round 4
  • 16 January 2019 - Round 5 (Alkmaar)
  • 17 January 2019 - Rest day
  • 18 January 2019 - Round 6
  • 19 January 2019 - Round 7
  • 20 January 2019 - Round 8
  • 21 January 2019 - Rest day
  • 22 January 2019 - Round 9
  • 23 January 2019 - Round 10 (Leiden)
  • 24 January 2019 - Rest day
  • 25 January 2019 - Round 11
  • 26 January 2019 - Round 12
  • 27 January 2019 - Round 13

Andre Schulz contributed reporting


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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