Tata Steel Chess 2018 field complete

by ChessBase
12/12/2017 – The field is complete for the Tata Steel Chess Master and Challengers coming up one month from today in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. A pair of Russian Grandmasters, Maxim Matlakov and Peter Svidler — the seven-time Russian champion — were the last two participants announced in the Masters group. World Junior Champ Aryan Tari will compete in the challengers and Indian talent Vidit Gujrathi makes his debut as the top seed. | Photo: www.TataSteelChess.com

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80th edition of Tata Steel Chess

Anticipation is building for the LXXX edition of the tournament set to take place January 12th to the 28th, 2018. Most of the 11 rounds will be held in the traditioinal venue in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, with two "on tour" days taking place this year in Hilversum and Groningen. There's even a slick widescreen trailer:

Peter Svidler and Maxim Matlakov complete the Masters

Currently number 12 in the world, with an Elo rating of 2765, Svidler hasn't made an appearance in Wijk ann Zee since 2007. Back then at 16-year-old Magnus Carlsen made his Masters group debut (called the A group at the time)...and finished tied for last place without a single win! Svidler also participated in 1999, 2004 and 2005, but he has never finished higher than sixth.

Maxime Matlakov (right) earned the 13th and final spot by virtue of his position in the ACP Tour standings. The 26-year-old Russian is currently at his peak rating of 2735, putting him at number 23 in the world on the December rating list.

Matlakov has had a particularly strong year, including joint first place finishes at the Grenke Chess Open in April, and the European Individual Championship in June (he became Champion on tiebreak score).

The tournament is chok full of champions this year, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen, and his predecessors, Viswanathan Anand, and Vladimir Kramnik plus former Women's World Champion and world number one Hou Yifan. Carlsen and Anand have each won the tournament five times.

The "on tour" days will take the grandmasters of the Masters group to the "Beeld en Geluid" building in Hilversum (also known as "the media capital" the Netherlands) on January 17 and the Academiegebouw building ("Academy Building") of the University of Groningen on January 24th. All rounds are freely accessible to the public.

Venues in Hilversum and Groningen

Spectacular venues in Hilversum and Groningen | Source: www.tatasteelchess.com

Wesley So is the defending champion having absolutely "crushed it" last January, with 9 / 13 points, finishing a full point clear of Magnus Carlsen.

Complete Masters group

Wesley So in 2017

Name FED Elo World Rank
Magnus Carlsen  Norway 2837 1
Fabiano Caruana USA 2799 3
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Azerbaijan 2799 5
Wesley So USA 2788 6
Vladimir Kramnik Russia 2787 7
Viswanathan Anand India 2782 8
Anish Giri Netherlands 2762 13
Peter Svidler Russia 2763 12
Sergey Karjakin Russia 2760 14
Wei Yi China 2739 20
Maxim Matlakov Russia 2735 26
Hou Yifan China 2680 66
Adhiban Baskaran India 2655 96
Gawain Jones England 2659 85

(FIDE rankings as of December 1, 2017)

The Fashionable Caro-Kann Vol.1 and 2

The Caro Kann is a very tricky opening. Black’s play is based on controlling and fighting for key light squares. It is a line which was very fashionable in late 90s and early 2000s due to the successes of greats like Karpov, Anand, Dreev etc. Recently due to strong engines lot of key developments have been made and some new lines have been introduced, while others have been refuted altogether. I have analyzed the new trends carefully and found some new ideas for Black.


"Challengers" Group

In the Challengers we see Indian GM Vidit Gujrathi at the top of an interesting field. At 23 years of age, and rated 2715 he's the fourth Indian player to have crossed 2700. Both he and the second seed, Bassem Amin from Egypt, will be making their Wijk aan Zee debut. Amin was the first African player to break the 2700 barrier.

In all the tournament sports 13 participants from nine different countries. Jorden van Foreest and younger brother Lucas are among the four Dutch players. It's extremely rare to see siblings competing together at this level. Lucas — just 16 years old — won the 2017 top amateur group, thus earning promotion to the Tata Steel Challengers.

Tournament director Jeroen van den Berg calls the field a "nice mix":

The field of participants of the Tata Steel Challengers is a nice mix of youth and experience, male and female top chess players. German grandmaster Matthias Blübaum and Ukranian Anton Korobov will make their debut and are not among the top candidates for the title, but may create some surprises. Only 20 years old, Matthias Blübaum has been one of the top German players for years. Korobov is known for his daring and attacking style, which yields varying results. He is just out of the top 100, while he was part of the top 40 last June.

Once again the Challengers includes a veteran player to participate in the Tata Steel Challengers, chosen based on thir ACP tour results. That will be Michal Krasenkow from Poland. At 54 years old he remains a very strong player — at 2671 he'll be the third seed — and has prior experience in the tournament.

Two other young players, the Norwegian Aryan Tari and Jeffery Xiong (pictured below) from the USA are both back. Xiong won the World Junior Championship in 2016, and Tari completed the same feat last week.

Two female top chess players have also been invited: Harika Dronavalli from India (12th on the world rankings of female players) and Olga Girya (17th) from Russia, both 26 years old. Girya will maker her debut in Wijk aan Zee.

Complete Challengers group

Jeffrey Xiong

Name FED Elo B-year
Vidit Gujrathi     India 2715 1994
Bassem Amin Egypt 2689 1988
Michal Krasenkow Poland 2671 1963
Anton Korobov Ukraine 2652 1985
Matthias Blübaum Germany 2642 1997
Erwin l'Ami Netherlands 2634 1985
Jeffery Xiong USA 2634 2000
Jorden van Foreest Netherlands 2629 1999
Benjamin Bok Netherlands 2601 1995
Aryan Tari Norway 2593 1999
Harika Dronavalli India 2504 1991
Olga Girya Russia 2484 1991
Lucas van Foreest Netherlands 2481 2001

80 years of chess in Wijk aan Zee

The Tata Steel Chess tournament and it's predecessors has a long tradition in the hamlet of Wijk aan Zee. The official site maintains an extensive "statistics" page, where you can browse through the history of the event. There you can see for instance that Garry Kasparov won the tournament in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Vishy Anand has played 208 games there throughout his career — the most of any 2018 participant. He and Carlsen with five wins apiece have the most tournament victories.

The tournament's history page touts the significance of chess for its chief sponsor:

Like chess, steel making requires strategic thinking to find creative solutions to the complex challenges our customers face. At Tata Steel we are proud of the global standing the chess tournament has acquired during its long history, the impact it continues to have in the region and its positive influence on the game of chess and in inspiring future generations. Like during past editions, hundreds of children, both at the Main Event and in the Chess On Tour locations will be able to partipate in Tata - Kids of Steel® Chess events.

Tata Steel Chess Tournament — At a glance

  • January 12th-28th, 2018
  • Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands
  • 14 Tata Steel Masters
  • 14 Tata Steel Challengers
  • More than 2000 amateur players
  • Two exciting new "Chess On Tour" destinations: Hilversum and Groningen
  • Free entry for visitors!
  • Wijk aan Zee games start 13.30 CET
  • Chess on Tour games start 14.00 CET

Tata Steel Chess 2018 logo

Photos: TataSteelChess.com


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Abraxas79 Abraxas79 12/14/2017 04:33
Going to the tournament's homepage reveals nothing about the playing rule set. Specifically, looking for anti-draw rules. If there are none, players can draw after making a single move.
Aighearach Aighearach 12/13/2017 01:41
@cardaguh It isn't enough to be invited to top tournaments. As the case of Ding Liren shows, if your own fans don't remember you being there, it is that much harder to make a case to be invited.

It is much better to go for blood and finish last than to play your best chess and get only draws unmemorable wins. Ding Liren plays great games in the Chinese League. Perhaps the last notable win he had against a non-Chinese player was vs Aronian at the Alekhine Memorial in 2013. Unfortunately, that was his only win and he went 1-3-5, and Aronian won the tournament with 3-1-5.

Professional sports isn't just about winning and losing, it is also about having fans who want to see you perform. If he wants to mostly play in China, then most of his appeal will be to Chinese sponsors. That means continuing to play mostly in China. If you want to play a lot in Europe, you need European fans. If you want to play in the US, you need American fans.
marco_baldauf@hotmail.com marco_baldauf@hotmail.com 12/12/2017 07:34
@cardaguh: Ding Liren played in Wijk three years ago
cardaguh cardaguh 12/12/2017 03:48
Why they never invite Ding Liren, he deserves to be there, but they don't invite him, that's an injustice. I hope Ding wins the candidates, and then defeat Carlsen, a I am sure he can and has a great talent and discipline. He never gets invited to the main tournaments, why? that's an injustice, just that.
psamant psamant 12/12/2017 12:01
This is one beautiful tournament which has found innovative ways to survive through recession years and flourish when the time is right. It always boasts a great mix of youth and experience ensuring interesting games and lesser draws. The tradition of inviting the lower tournament (A and B) winners to the higher grade tournament the next year acts as a great impetus for the players to fight to win. The grand central tour can learn a thing or two from here!