Tata Steel Final Recap

by Alejandro Ramirez
1/27/2015 – Wijk aan Zee has come and gone; two weeks of exciting chess, surprises, and full of passionate chess. There were some quick draws, some games that were not as exciting as others, but there was not a single round in this event that did not have a gem, a point of interest, a spectacle to be admired. Some players did better than others, and we give you a summary of each one of them.

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The Tata Steel Chess Tournament has two main tournaments. They are played according to the 'round robin' system, whereby each competitor plays in turn against every other during the tournament. The Tata Steel Masters has 14 participants and the Tata Steel Challengers has 14 participants. Both groups start on January 10th 2015 and the last round is on January 25th. All rounds in Wijk aan Zee begin at 13.30 hours, except for the last round on January 25th, which begins at 12.00 hours. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from the first move.

Admission to the playing hall in Wijk aan Zee, Rotterdam and The Hague is free of charge

Recap of Wijk aan Zee, Masters Group:

Wijk aan Zee has come and gone; two weeks of exciting chess, surprises, and certainly full of passionate chess. There were some quick draws here and there, some games that were not as exciting as others, but there was not a single round in this event that did not have a gem, a point of interest, a spectacle to be admired. Some players did better than others, and we give you a summary of each one of them:

Final Masters Standings

The Defeated

At the end of any tournament, some players will be happier than others. In this case there were certain people that never seemed to get the groove of things, and no matter how much they tried, they were far from reaching their goals.

Baadur Jobava was able to get a small respite in the last round of the tournament. Radjabov blundered badly against him in a drawn endgame, but even with this victory the Georgian player dropped 31 points and below 2700. It isn't exactly clear what happened to him; it is true that his creative play sometimes lands him in awkward positions, but he usually has the genius to unravel such situations and turn them to his advantage.

Levon Aronian has had some problems this past year. He went from the obvious contender for the World Championship to barely being in the top-10 in the World. We know that he can make a comeback at any time, but this was not his tournament.

Radoslaw Wojtaszek is a man that was set to impress the World. After six rounds of play he was half a point away from the leader, winning 12 rating points and he had already defeated Carlsen and Caruana. Yet, he was unable to sustain this momentum, and quite the contrary - he came crashing down. In the second half of the event he lost 22 rating points (bringing his total to -10) and a feeling that this event could have been so much more for him.

Fabiano Caruana did not have an awful tournament by any means, scoring +1 in such a strong field is always acceptable, but he is simply not shining. He has steadily bled rating since achieving his live peak of 2851 last year. No one doubts how good he is, and how good he can be, but he wasn't able to show it in Wijk aan Zee.

The Forgivers

There are players who always had those chances, let slip those opportunities. Had they capitalized on them, this tournament would have been much better. It wasn't bad as it was, but yet, something was missing...

Loek Van Wely is always a dangerous opponent, and he proved it in this event. He kept getting winning positions against many players, but always somehow failing to convert them. His game against Radoslaw Wojtaszek, in particular, comes to mind.

Hou Yifan keeps proving that she is one of the top players in the World, that she can hang on with the big boys and outplay any one of them. However in this event she just was unable to convert positions properly. She started with a bad 0.0/2 with losses to MVL and Ding Liren, partially due to terrible planning on her behalf. It is reported that she went to the opening ceremony straight from the airport! She could have finished at least with an extra point had she converted her wins against Saric and Caruana.

The Not-too-bad

Teimour Radjabov didn't have a good tournament, he didn't have a bad tournament. Actually most of his games did not cause much of an impression. His blunder in the last round deprived him of half a point that wouldn't really have changed very much.

Ivan Saric had an interesting event. He had some spectacular collapses but he also proved he can play decent chess against the best of them. He managed to outplay Carlsen in the very last round, making the World Champion worried that he might actually not win the tournament! Saric's 4.5/13 is half a point less than what his rating predicted him to score, but his event wasn't bad.

Ivanchuk

Vasil Ivanchuk is such a unique player... why not give him his own category? He started out with blazing speed, leading for more than half the tournament. His finish wasn't bad, but it didn't have the fire of his start and it left him far from winning the event. At the same time, he did go into the this section as one of the lowest rated players (only ahead of Hou Yifan, Van Wely and Saric) so him gaining 16 points and ending above the middle of the pack is very commendable.

The New Generation

Or, alternatively, those who tied for second. With an average age of 21 the players that finished in second place are taking the banner for the new top-10.

A few years ago people did not really know who Ding Liren was. Rumors came from China of this young player who kept winning the Chinese Championship, but seldom played abroad - and when he did his results were mixed. Well, after this tournament, he certainly won't be forgotten! He showed aggressive and powerful chess, his King's Indian Defense being especially impressive. We can only hope to keep seeing him climb the totem pole.

Wesley So has shredded any doubt that anyone could possibly have about his strength. After having a meteoric ascent, including his victory in the Millionaire Open, many still claimed that he hadn't had a real challenge with the "big boys". Well, here he is, with a fantastic 8.5/13 and cementing his position in the top-10 live rating list.

Anish Giri had an outstanding event. He played good, solid chess all through-out and proved yet again that he deserves his rating. He will be one of the most important people to keep track of in the next World Championship cycle.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, MVL, had already reached the top-10 a few months ago, right before the Sinquefield Cup. He had a somewhat timid showing in that event (which was basically all about Caruana) and it is wonderful to see him rip through the field here in Wijk aan Zee. Had Saric converted his position against Carlsen, MVL would actually have won the event!

Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen is a player that never seems fully satisfied with his play - and perhaps that is the reason that he is the best player on the planet. His margin of victory in this tournament was not big, but it is still impressive that he was able to win without relying on tiebreaks after his disastrous start. After his loss in round three he scored an amazing six victories in a row, and all he had to do was cruise with four draws in the remaining games to win Tata Steel.

Closing Ceremony

Hou Yifan and Alina l'Ami, who has taken a break from her picture-taking responsibilities, at the closing

A small dinner with basically everyone that was involved, from players to coaches and significant others

A recognition for the oldest player in the amateur section

Anne Haast with her IM norm

Wei Yi and Hou Yifan also received special recognition

The winner! Magnus Carlsen...

Who also became an honorary citizen of Wijk aan Zee!
Bestowed upon him by Mayor Freek Ossel.

It's a sad day when Wijk aan Zee finishes, but every good thing must come to an end. We look forward to more exciting events this year; for now Gilbratar begins in a few hours while Baden-Baden will host another super tournament next week!

Photos by Alina l'Ami for the official website. Photos of the Closing Ceremony by Joachim Schulze

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Schedule and results - Masters group

Round 1 - Saturday Jan. 10
Radjabov, T. - Van Wely, L.
½-½
Ivanchuk, V. - Jobava, B.
1-0
Vachier-Lagrave - Hou, Y.
1-0
Ding, L. - Caruana, F.
0-1
Saric, I. - Aronian, L.
½-½
Giri, A. - Carlsen, M.
½-½
So, W. - Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
Round 2 - Sunday Jan. 11
Van Wely, L. - Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
Carlsen, M. - So, W.
½-½
Aronian, L. - Giri, A.
½-½
Caruana, F. - Saric, I.
1-0
Hou, Y. - Ding, L.
0-1
Jobava, B. - Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Radjabov, T. - Ivanchuk, V.
½-½
Round 3 - Monday Jan. 12
Ivanchuk, V. - Van Wely, L.
1-0
Vachier-Lagrave - Radjabov, T.
½-½
Ding, L. - Jobava, B.
1-0
Saric, I. - Hou, Y.
½-½
Giri, A. - Caruana, F.
½-½
So, W. - Aronian, L.
1-0
Wojtaszek, R. - Carlsen, M.
1-0
Round 4 - Tuesday Jan. 13
Van Wely, L. - Carlsen, M.
0-1
Aronian, L. - Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
Caruana, F. - So, W.
½-½
Hou, Y. - Giri, A.
½-½
Jobava, B. - Saric, I.
0-1
Radjabov, T. - Ding, L.
0-1
Ivanchuk, V. - Vachier-Lagrave
1-0
Round 5 - Thursday Jan. 15
Vachier-Lagrave - Van Wely, L.
½-½
Ding, L. - Ivanchuk, V.
½-½
Saric, I. - Radjabov, T.
0-1
Giri, A. - Jobava, B.
1-0
So, W. - Hou, Y.
½-½
Wojtaszek, R. - Caruana, F.
1-0
Carlsen, M. - Aronian, L.
1-0
Round 6 - Friday Jan. 16
Van Wely, L. - Aronian, L.
½-½
Caruana, F. - Carlsen, M.
0-1
Hou, Y. - Wojtaszek, R.
½-½
Jobava, B. - So, W.
0-1
Radjabov, T. - Giri, A.
½-½
Ivanchuk, V. - Saric, I.
½-½
Vachier-Lagrave - Ding, L.
1-0
Round 7 - Saturday Jan. 17
Ding, L. - Van Wely, L.
1-0
Saric, I. - Vachier-Lagrave
0-1
Giri, A. - Ivanchuk, V.
½-½
So, W. - Radjabov, T.
½-½
Wojtaszek, R. - Jobava, B.
0-1
Carlsen, M. - Hou, Y.
1-0
Aronian, L. - Caruana, F.
½-½
Round 8 - Sunday Jan. 18
Van Wely, L. - Caruana, F.
0-1
Hou, Y. - Aronian, L.
½-½
Jobava, B. - Carlsen, M.
0-1
Radjabov, T. - Wojtaszek, R.
1-0
Ivanchuk, V. - So, W.
0-1
Vachier-Lagrave - Giri, A.
1-0
Ding, L. - Saric, I.
1-0
Round 9 - Tuesday Jan. 20
Saric, I. - Van Wely, L.
½-½
Giri, A. - Ding, L.
1-0
So, W. - Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Wojtaszek, R. - Ivanchuk, V.
½-½
Carlsen, M. - Radjabov, T.
1-0
Aronian, L. - Jobava, B.
1-0
Caruana, F. - Hou, Y.
½-½
Round 10 - Wednesday Jan. 21
Van Wely, L. - Hou, Y.
1-0
Jobava, B. - Caruana, F.
0-1
Radjabov, T. - Aronian, L.
½-½
Ivanchuk, V. - Carlsen, M.
½-½
Vachier-Lagrave - Wojtaszek
½-½
Ding, L. - So, W.
½-½
Saric, I. - Giri, A.
0-1
Round 11 - Friday Jan. 23
Giri, A. - Van Wely, L.
1-0
So, W. - Saric, I.
1-0
Wojtaszek, R. - Ding, L.
0-1
Carlsen, M. - Vachier-Lagrave
½-½
Aronian, L. - Ivanchuk, V.
½-½
Caruana, F. - Radjabov, T.
½-½
Hou, Y. - Jobava, B.
1-0
Round 12 - Saturday Jan. 24
Van Wely, L. - Jobava, B.
½-½
Radjabov, T. - Hou, Y.
½-½
Ivanchuk, V. - Caruana, F.
½-½
Vachier-Lagrave - Aronian, L.
½-½
Ding, L. - Carlsen, M.
½-½
Saric, I. - Wojtaszek, R.
1-0
Giri, A. - So, W.
1-0
Round 13 - Sunday Jan. 25
So, W. - Van Wely, L.
1-0
Wojtaszek, R. - Giri, A.
½-½
Carlsen, M. - Saric, I.
½-½
Aronian, L. - Ding, L.
0-1
Caruana, F. - Vachier-Lagrave
0-1
Hou, Y. - Ivanchuk, V.
½-½
Jobava, B. - Radjabov, T.
1-0

Schedule and results - Challengers group

Round 1 - Saturday Jan. 10
Shankland, S. - Wei, Y.
½-½
Dale, A. - Haast, A.
½-½
Navara, D. - l' Ami, E.
½-½
Timman, J. - Klein, D.
½-½
Van Kampen, R. - Sevian, S.
1-0
Michiels, B. - Gunina, V.
½-½
Saleh, S. - Potkin, V.
½-½
Round 2 - Sunday Jan. 11
Wei, Y. - Potkin, V.
1-0
Gunina, V. - Saleh, S.
1-0
Sevian, S. - Michiels, B.
0-1
Klein, D. - Van Kampen, R.
½-½
l' Ami, E. - Timman, J.
½-½
Haast, A. - Navara, D.
0-1
Shankland, S. - Dale, A.
½-½
Round 3 - Monday Jan. 12
Dale, A. - Wei, Y.
½-½
Navara, D. - Shankland, S.
½-½
Timman, J. - Haast, A.
0-1
Van Kampen, R. - l' Ami, E.
½-½
Michiels, B. - Klein, D.
0-1
Saleh, S. - Sevian, S.
½-½
Potkin, V. - Gunina, V.
1-0
Round 4 - Tuesday Jan. 13
Wei, Y. - Gunina, V.
1-0
Sevian, S. - Potkin, V.
1-0
Klein, D. - Saleh, S.
0-1
l' Ami, E. - Michiels, B.
1-0
Haast, A. - Van Kampen, R.
0-1
Shankland, S. - Timman, J.
½-½
Dale, A. - Navara, D.
0-1
Round 5 - Thursday Jan. 15
Navara, D. - Wei, Y.
½-½
Timman, J. - Dale, A.
1-0
Van Kampen - Shankland, S.
0-1
Michiels, B. - Haast, A.
1-0
Saleh, S. - l' Ami, E.
0-1
Potkin, V. - Klein, D.
1-0
Gunina, V. - Sevian, S.
0-1
Round 6 - Friday Jan. 16
Wei, Y. - Sevian, S.
1-0
Klein, D. - Gunina, V.
1-0
l' Ami, E. - Potkin, V.
½-½
Haast, A. - Saleh, S.
½-½
Shankland, S. - Michiels, B.
1-0
Dale, A. - Van Kampen, R.
0-1
Navara, D. - Timman, J.
1-0
Round 7 - Saturday Jan. 17
Timman, J. - Wei, Y.
0-1
Van Kampen, R. - Navara, D.
0-1
Michiels, B. - Dale, A.
1-0
Saleh, S. - Shankland, S.
½-½
Potkin, V. - Haast, A.
1-0
Gunina, V. - l' Ami, E.
1-0
Sevian, S. - Klein, D.
1-0
Round 8 - Sunday Jan. 18
Wei, Y. - Klein, D.
1-0
l' Ami, E. - Sevian, S.
½-½
Haast, A. - Gunina, V.
1-0
Shankland, S. - Potkin, V.
½-½
Dale, A. - Saleh, S.
0-1
Navara, D. - Michiels, B.
1-0
Timman, J. - Van Kampen, R.
0-1
Round 9 - Tuesday Jan. 20
Van Kampen, R. - Wei, Y.
½-½
Michiels, B. - Timman, J.
½-½
Saleh, S. - Navara, D.
0-1
Potkin, V. - Dale, A.
½-½
Gunina, V. - Shankland, S.
½-½
Sevian, S. - Haast, A.
1-0
Klein, D. - l' Ami, E.
½-½
Round 10 - Wednesday Jan. 21
Wei, Y. - l' Ami, E.
1-0
Haast, A. - Klein, D.
½-½
Shankland, S. - Sevian, S.
½-½
Dale, A. - Gunina, V.
½-½
Navara, D. - Potkin, V.
½-½
Timman, J. - Saleh, S.
0-1
Van Kampen, R. - Michiels, B.
1-0
Round 11 - Friday Jan. 23
Michiels, B. - Wei, Y.
0-1
Saleh, S. - Van Kampen, R.
1-0
Potkin, V. - Timman, J.
1-0
Gunina, V. - Navara, D.
½-½
Sevian, S. - Dale, A.
½-½
Klein, D. - Shankland, S.
0-1
l' Ami, E. - Haast, A.
½-½
Round 12 - Saturday Jan. 24
Wei, Y. - Haast, A.
1-0
Shankland, S. - l' Ami, E.
1-0
Dale, A. - Klein, D.
½-½
Navara, D. - Sevian, S.
½-½
Timman, J. - Gunina, V.
0-1
Van Kampen, R. - Potkin, V.
1-0
Michiels, B. - Saleh, S.
0-1
Round 13 - Sunday Jan. 25
Saleh, S. - Wei, Y.
½-½
Potkin, V. - Michiels, B.
½-½
Gunina, V. - Van Kampen, R.
0-1
Sevian, S. - Timman, J.
1-0
Klein, D. - Navara, D.
0-1
l' Ami, E. - Dale, A.
1-0
Haast, A. - Shankland, S.
0-1

Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.




Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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eltollo eltollo 1/28/2015 01:36
For the non-Dutch rreaders: the old man in the picture showing "the oldest participant" is 104 (!)-year old Professor van Hulst, who up to a few years ago was still active at his chess club. At the age of 95 he won the chess tournament for former politicians at TataSteel. As a former politician, he still can deliver marvelous speeches. For saving hundreds of Jewish children in the second world war, he received the Israelian Yad Veshem distinction. For more information on this great person, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_van_Hulst.
In the picture, van Hulst is speeching on the occasion of handing over the "Van Hulst Prize" for encouraging young chess players to Anne Haast.
daftarche daftarche 1/28/2015 12:32
interesting comments on jobava. so in ramirez view it is worthy to note his opponent blundered badly( can we say "blunder well?") but not worthy to note he also blundered many times and lost from simple positions. games against carlsen, caruana, ivanchuk, hou comes to my mind where he lost the game in one move.
Boon-Swee Yen Boon-Swee Yen 1/27/2015 09:19
Hou Yifan didn't lose to So; they drew in Round 5. Hou lost to MVL in round 1 and Ding in round 2.
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