Tata Steel Chess R1: Ding and Abdusattorov score with black

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/15/2023 – Ding Liren and Nodirbek Abdusattorov were the first winners at the Masters section of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Both players scored with the black pieces, as Ding got the better of Dommaraju Gukesh and Abdusattorov defeated Richard Rapport. In the Challengers, Max Warmerdam and Abhimanyu Mishra collected full points on opening day. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

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No Russian players

Unlike official FIDE tournaments, private events can circumvent political dilemmas by simply inviting players who are not involved in the conflict. At the 83rd edition of the Tata Steel Championship, there are no Russians neither in the Challengers nor in the Masters. Given the rich chess tradition of the country ruled by authoritarian Vladimir Putin, this is a noteworthy, unprecedented circumstance. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich did get an invitation, though.

As for the other big political (and religious) dispute that has spilled into the chess world — Iranian authorities’ intolerance towards representatives of their country that agree to play against Israeli players — the organizers did not have to deal with any related problems. Since there are no Israelis rated 2700 or above, they safely invited Parham Maghsoodloo as Jan-Krzysztof Duda’s late replacement. Similarly, Amin Tabatabaei is among the fourteen Challengers fighting for a spot in next year’s Masters tournament.

Jeroen van den Berg, Vishy Anand, Arkady Dvorkovich

Tournament Director Jeroen van den Berg with guests of honour Vishy Anand and Arkady Dvorkovich | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Following a couple of quiet weeks in the world of elite chess competitions, the classical chess action finally kicked off in Wijk aan Zee. With rapid and blitz tournaments gaining prevalence as of late, it is great to see players getting enough time to create the timeless masterpieces that shape the growing legacy of the game. To deal with the danger of players going for safe draws, the organizers once again summoned an attractive field of players, combining ambitious youth with the proven excellence of long-standing elite grandmasters.

Two players emerged as co-leaders after the first day of action in the Masters, Ding Liren and Nodirbek Abdusattorov, as both scored wins with the black pieces on Saturday. The most anticipated game of the round, Magnus Carlsen versus Levon Aronian, was one of five clashes that finished drawn.

Notably, besides the two winners of the day, three other players got good positions while marshalling the black pieces — Wesley So, Anish Giri and Vincent Keymer all failed to obtain full points after getting the upper hand in their games.

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian held Magnus Carlsen to a draw with the black pieces | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Ding wins again, six and a half months later

Supposedly, Ding Liren will face Ian Nepomniachtchi in a World Championship match in April, although time is running out and FIDE has yet to announce a venue. The Chinese star’s previous outing in a classical tournament was, in fact, the Candidates Tournament, where he got the right to face Nepo after getting second place. In the last round of the event in Madrid, Ding clinched the coveted spot by beating Hikaru Nakamura in their final-round confrontation.

Six and a half months later, Ding again won a classical game, as he outplayed young Gukesh after the latter incorrectly rejected grabbing a pawn on move 23.


Dommaraju Gukesh

Gukesh will try to bounce back in his round-2 game against Anish Giri | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Abdusattorov takes down Rapport

Two combative players featured in the other decisive game of the first round. 18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov defeated Richard Rapport in 47 moves. After getting a superior structure in the early middlegame, the Uzbek grandmaster showed great technique to convert his advantage in a queenless position.


Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Richard Rapport

The ever-dangerous Richard Rapport will face Jorden van Foreest in the second round | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 1 - Masters


All games - Masters


Abhi and Warmerdam score in the Challengers

Contrary to what was seen in the Masters, the two decisive games in the Challengers were won by the player who had the white pieces. It was a round filled with missed opportunities, as only Abhimanyu Mishra and Max Warmerdam ended the day with victories to their names. 

Abhi, who became the youngest grandmaster in history in 2021, will turn 14 years old next month! In round 1, the US star got the better of Eline Roebers, the lowest-rated player in the field. You should not write Roebers off after this loss, though, as she has proven to be a fierce fighter in the past — her showing at the Chennai Olympiad is just one example.

The other winner of the day was Max Warmerdam. In his third outing in Wijk aan Zee, the Dutch player kicked off with a victory over Jergus Pechac. In 2022, Warmerdam scored 6½/13 points in the same event.

Abhimanyu Mishra

Abhimanyu Mishra | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Standings after round 1 - Masters


All games - Masters



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.