Tata Steel Chess starts tomorrow

by ChessBase
1/11/2019 – The annual "Tata Steel Chess Tournament" starts on Saturday in the Dutch North Sea town of Wijk aan Zee. The "Masters" is super-strong this year: Of the 14 participants in the round-robin tournament, only the local hero GM Jorden van Foreest has an Elo rating below 2700; three players are over 2800 including World Champion Magnus Carlsen, the defending champion and six-time tournament winner. The average Elo of the tournament is 2753. The participants in the "Challengers" also has a mouthwatering field. Here you'll find all the details! | Photo: TataSteelChess.com

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Carlsen tries to make it seven

The Tata Steel Chess tournament is the first chess highlight in the New Year. The venue Wijk aan Zee is located 20 km from Amsterdam on the Dutch North Sea coast. Chess tournaments have been held there since 1938; After World War II, they were sponsored by a steel company (Hoogovens). Later, the tournaments got the name Corus after a merger with British Steel in 1999, and it changed once again as "Corus" became "Tata Steel Europe" in 2010 after a merger with the Indian conglomerate's steel arm.

Meanwhile, a stable format has pit 14 players from the world elite in a single round-robin tournament ("Masters"). In a second tournament ("Challengers"), has evolved into a proving ground for young talents and experienced veterans and offers a chance to fight for a place in Masters of the following year. Wijk aan Zee hosts a slew of amateur tournaments which is key to its traditional festival atmosphere.

Magnus Carlsen won his sixth tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 2018 — a record  

World Champion Magnus Carlsen is the headliner, as he tries to extend his record of six first-place finishes. He surpassed Viswanathan Anand last year, but the Indian ace is back to try once more himself.

As an appetiser, the organisers have produced this short video:

The players

We introduced the fields in our December preview: Strong fields set for Tata Steel 2019.

Masters group

Title Name FED Elo 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 2731 23
GM Shankland, Samuel USA 2725 27
GM Fedoseev, Vladimir RUS 2724 28
GM Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi IND 2695 45
GM Van Foreest, Jorden NED 2612 192

Average rating: 2753 (FIDE rankings and Elo as of January 1, 2019)

Challengers group

Title Name FED Born Elo
GM Anton Korobov UKR 1985 2699
GM Parham Maghsoodloo IRI 2000 2679
GM Vladislav Kovalev  BLR 1994 2687
GM Evgeny Bareev CAN 1966 2650
GM Erwin l'Ami NED 1985 2643
GM Benjamin Gledura HUN 1999 2615
GM Maksim Chigaev RUS 1996 2604
GM Andrei Esipenko RUS 2002 2584
GM R Praggnananndhaa  IND 2005 2539
MI Vincent Keymer GER 2004 2500
GM Lucas van Foreest NED 2001 2502
MI/WGM Elisabeth Pähtz GER 1985 2477
MI/WGM Dinara Saduakassova KAZ 1996 2472
MI Stefan Kuipers NED 1990 2470

Average rating: 2582 (as of January 1, 2019)

Games and commentary

A live broadcast is available courtesy TataSteelMasters.com via live.chessbase.com or on the Playchess server. Anna Rudolf and Lawrence Trent will be the commentary duo from January 12th to 18th. Sopiko Guramishvilli and Robert Hess will take over from January 20th to 27th. And a surprise team is set to handle the January 19th show, to be announced.

ChessBase will provide daily video round-up shows by a variety of commentators (see Schedule below).


A 14-player single round-robin means each player plays every other once for 13 rounds in all. The drawing of lots determines the colours for each game.


The drawing of lots for the Masters took place today.


The Challengers draw was held yesterday and produced the following draw:

Therefore, the Round 1 pairings are as follows:
Round 1 - Saturday the 12th
Maghsoodloo, Parham - Korobov, Anton   
Paehtz, Elisabeth - Keymer, Vincent   
Kuipers, Stefan - L'Ami, Erwin   
Esipenko, Andrey - Kovalev, Vladislav   
Praggnanandhaa R - Bareev, Evgeny   
Chigaev, Maksim - Saduakassova, Dinara   
Van Foreest, Lucas - Gledura, Benjamin   

Time control

Players receive 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 seconds bonus per move starting from move one.


As has become traditional, there will be two 'Chess on Tour' days, this year in Alkmaar (Round 5) and Leiden (Round 10).

Day Date Round Round-up show
Saturday January 12 1 IM Merijn van Delft
Sunday January 13 2 GM Daniel King
Monday January 14 3 GM Daniel King
Tuesday January 15 4 GM Daniel King
Wednesday January 16 5 GM Daniel King
Friday January 18 6 IM Merijn van Delft
Saturday January 19 7 GM Daniel King
Sunday January 20 8 GM Yannick Pelletier
Tuesday January 22 9 GM Daniel King
Wednesday January 23 10 IM Lawrence Trent
Friday January 25 11 GM Yannick Pelletier
Saturday January 26 12 IM Lawrence Trent
Sunday January 27 13 GM Yannick Pelletier

All rounds in Wijk aan Zee start at 13:30 CET (12:30 UTC, 7:30 EST), except the last round, which starts at 12.00. The Chess-on-Tour rounds (5 and 10) start at 14:00 CET.


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Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 1/13/2019 07:06
In 2017, Levon and Maxime participated to the Gibraltar tournament, which is very soon.. Maybe they intend to do it again (as hinted by Rokko). Hikaru participated as well. Wesley did not in 2017.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 1/12/2019 09:47
"Several of them play in Gibraltar in two weeks. Same choice every year."

Thanks Rokko -that may explain why Maxime, Levon and Fabiano, or some of them, chose not to play in the Tata Steel tournament. Same choice every year - and I forget every year. Probably not next year - thanks to you.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 1/12/2019 05:04
no Wesley So?"

Maybe he was invited and chose not to go.

To be noted: absences of Maxime, Levon and Fabiano. Maybe they (or part of them) were invited and chose not to go. I do not know.
rokko rokko 1/12/2019 10:23
Several of them play in Gibraltar in two weeks. Same choice every year.
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 1/12/2019 01:40
'To be noted: absences of Maxime, Vlad, Levon and Fabiano. Maybe they (or part of them) were invited and chose not to go. I do not know' - Vlad 2.0 plays
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 1/11/2019 10:30
Interestingly, in the second photograph, Magnus is looking at Anatoly Karpov. Magnus knows probably many of AK's games and is aware that one of the great of all times is there. As mentioned by Daniel King in his video reviews of world champions, AK is a bit underrated. It is only by an edge that GK won his tournaments against him, and AK was (and still is of course) about ten years older than GK. In one of the championship tournaments, there was even a draw result - GK kept the title only by the rule providing that the champion keeps the title in case of equality.

GK was always gracious in recognising AK's talent and greatness.

In their (GK-AK) five world championship matches, Karpov scored 19 wins, 21 losses, and 104 draws in 144 games. We can also think that age may have been a factor in these gruelling matches. So imagine AK in his prime...

And Magnus is aware of that, most probably.
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 1/11/2019 09:49

maybe did not have time to prepare, or was not invited.
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 1/11/2019 09:48
Last I saw, So was working in South Africa, no?
garri616 garri616 1/11/2019 09:46
lol no Wesley So?
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 1/11/2019 09:42
Might have a new World #1 on the rating list after this. The differnce between Magnus and Fabiano is 7 points. Magnus has been know to draw and lose to lower rated players on a few occasions. Surely even a draw against Van Forrest would knock at least 1 rating point off him. And to top it all off, none of these players are mugs.
Green22 Green22 1/11/2019 06:55
Can't wait to see how Parham Maghsoodloo does. He's gonna be a contender very soon to play with the top brass of the world in my opinion..
robessexuk robessexuk 1/11/2019 05:55
And just as an aside - the great Azuri GM Vugar Gashimov passed 5 years ago today.
macauley macauley 1/11/2019 05:53
@starkidaway - Corrected, thanks.
starkidaway starkidaway 1/11/2019 05:12
Why are they using the player's rapid rating?
Abraxas79 Abraxas79 1/11/2019 04:17
Classical chess with classical times controls R.I.P. Just not interested in it at all. It has been drawn out. Pun intended.
royce campbell royce campbell 1/11/2019 02:18
Classic tournament, ckassic time control. Can't help but love it. Arche is daft! Hehheh. Seriously, my favorite tournament of the year overall.
Blondicheck Blondicheck 1/11/2019 12:17
Tata starts today!
De weekend amateurs start this evening and the drawing by lot for the GM's has also taken place.

Tata here we are!
daftarche daftarche 1/11/2019 10:43
Please get rid of this long classical time control and replace it with something a little shorter. And also inviting Bareev who is practically retired to this event is very interesting.