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

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


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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agm agm 1/11/2019 01:00
@Abraxas79 : Really? In Tata Steel 2018, Anand was +4 -1 =8. Far from drawing all his games.
badibadibadi badibadibadi 12/5/2018 08:36
@KeithHomeyard : Fischer actually played some game against a computer way after he quit the chess world :

[Event "Computer match"]
[Site "Cambridge, MA USA"]
[Date "1977.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Greenblatt (Computer)"]
[Black "Robert James Fischer"]
[ECO "B27"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "94"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6
7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng8 9.f4 f6 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.Bc4 d5 12.Be2 Rb8
13.b3 Ng4 14.Bd4 e5 15.fxe5 O-O 16.Bxg4 Qh4+ 17.g3 Qxg4
18.Qxg4 Bxg4 19.Rf1 Rxf1+ 20.Kxf1 c5 21.Bf2 Bxe5 22.Be1 Rf8+
23.Kg2 Rf3 24.h3 Rxc3 25.Bxc3 Bxc3 26.Rf1 Bf5 27.Rf2 h5 28.Re2
Kf7 29.Re3 Bd4 30.Rf3 Ke6 31.c3 Be5 32.Re3 d4 33.cxd4 cxd4
34.Re1 d3 35.h4 d2 36.Rd1 Bc3 37.Kf2 Bg4 38.Rh1 Bd4+ 39.Kg2
Kd5 40.a3 Ke4 41.Rf1 Kd3 42.Kh2 Ke2 43.Kg2 Bh3+ 44.Kxh3 Kxf1
45.b4 d1=Q 46.Kh2 Qe2+ 47.Kh3 Qg2# 0-1
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 12/5/2018 03:38
As an American, I'll be particularly interested in Shankland's performance. There might be a tendency to turn conservative, but I think that would be a mistake. Go for it, Sam!
Green22 Green22 12/5/2018 03:18
Can't wait to see how the challengers group does. I followed Parham Maghsoodloo and watched his interviews after his matches in the WJCC. Super talent and very humble. I predict he wins this group outright.
Daniel Quigley Daniel Quigley 12/5/2018 06:33
Shankland, Rapport, and Mamedyarov all strive for the 1-0 over the 1/2-1/2. As an American, I think the organizers invited the right one to make for a more exciting tournament.
Abraxas79 Abraxas79 12/5/2018 05:07
Yawn. Classical chess at long time controls. 2700+. Get ready for a lot of draws. Why Anand again? Good Chance he will draw all his games.
phoenician phoenician 12/4/2018 11:54
Esipenko is the kid who skipped bothering with th IM title. LOL. Any one of those kids could win that section. Looking forward to it!
Keith Homeyard Keith Homeyard 12/4/2018 09:46
How do you know Carlsen disregards computer opening preparation?
We can be sure that Fischer didn't! :)
badibadibadi badibadibadi 12/4/2018 09:22
That's why Carlsen > Fischer.

Had Carlsen left when he peaked 2882 (which he was able to maintain for a while with incredible performances just in order not to lose any rating points) he would be remembered as the greatest ever already.

Bravo to him for puting himself in danger in any possible way, nobody could do any better than what he has been doing for more than a decade already. We are very fortunate to have a great champion like him in our modern era who disregards computer opening preparation rely on human intuition and stuffs.

Hope Caruana will be able to find the Sinquefield cup 2014 strength, and Carlsen peaks back at 288x, so we have an incredible rematch in 24 games format hopefully.
Hhorse Hhorse 12/4/2018 07:27
Challengers group could be a lot more fun to watch. Lot of young super talent with no penchant for draws.