Tata Steel starts in a week

by Johannes Fischer
1/8/2017 – Only a few more days and World Champion Magnus Carlsen will play his first tournament game of 2017. On Saturday, January 14, 1.30pm local time, at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Carlsen will compete against players such as Sergey Karjakin, Wesley So, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Richard Rapport, and Wei Yi to name just a few. Traditionally, Wijk aan Zee is one of the strongest and most interesting tournaments of the year, a real chess festival!

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Photos: Tata Steel Tournament

On January 14, 2017, the little Dutch village Wijk aan Zee, will again become the center of the chess world. Thousands of chess fans will travel to the "De Moriaan", the event hall in Wijk, to watch the world's best players in action and/or to take part in one of the several tournaments Wijk offers for players of all levels.

De Moriaan

"Steel" cake

But not all rounds of the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee are played in Wijk. The tournament travels and two of the 13 thirteen rounds of the A-group are played in a prestigious venue in other cities. This year these two "external" rounds will be played in the stadium of soccer club Feyenoord Rotterdam and in the Philharmonic Hall of Haarlem to present chess as sport and as art.



Top seed in Wijk aan Zee is World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen is a regular visitor in Wijk and plays for the 13th time - five times Carlsen has won the A-group, a record he shares with Vishy Anand. Carlsen is also the defending champion: in 2016 he won with 9.0/13, ahead of Fabiano Caruana.

Carlsen will meet an old and recent rival in Wijk: Sergey Karjakin, Carlsen's challenger in the World Championship match 2016 in New York who in December 2016 became World Blitz Champion in Doha, narrowly ahead of Carlsen.

Wesley So, one of the most successful players in 2016, will also be in Wijk, and he will try to start 2017 the way he ended 2016. In December 2016 So won the London Chess Classic and this also made him win the Grand Chess Tour 2016. In 2016 So also passed the 2800 Elo mark and with a current rating of 2808 he is number four in the world and second seed in Wijk.

Levon Aronian, Pentala Harikrishna, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Pavel Eljanov, Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Dmitri Andreikin will also hope to mix up the tournament, not to mention the young talents Richard Rapport and Wei Yi. As of January 2017 Rapport is too old to be a junior and this title went to Wei Yi. It's the second time the Chinese starts in the A-group in Wijk, but last year he showed only little youthful vigor: 11 of his 13 games ended in a draw.

Magnus Carlsen - Winner of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2016

Participants of the A-Tournament (Masters)

  Name Country Rating Position
GM Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2840 1
GM So, Wesley USA 2808 4
GM Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2785 8
GM Aronian, Levon ARM 2780 9
GM Giri, Anish NED 2773 10
GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS 2767 11
GM Harikrishna, Pentala IND 2766 12
GM Eljanov, Pavel UKR 2755 15
GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw POL 2750 18
GM Andreikin, Dmitri RUS 2736 24
GM Wei, Yi CHN 2704 38
GM Rapport, Richard HUN 2702 40
GM Van Wely, Loek NED 2695 49
GM Adhiban, Baskaran IND 2653 102

In the B-group Markus Ragger from Austria, who plays for the first time in Wijk, is top seed. In their invitational policy the organizers again followed the pattern of previous years: they invited a number of experienced tournament players (Smirin, Jones, Dobrov), a number of Dutch players (l'Ami, van Foreest, Bok), young talents (Xiong, Lu, Hansen, Grandelius, Tari) and two female players (Guramishvili, Lei Tingjie).

It will be interesting to see how the world's best girl, Lei Tingje, the young talent from the US, Jeffery Xiong, and the young Dutch master Jorden van Foreest will fare in this field. And who will win the tournament and qualify for the A-group in the Tata Steel tournament 2018?


Participants of the B-Tournament (Challengers)


  Name Country Rating
GM Ragger, Markus AUT 2697
GM Smirin, Ilia ISR 2667
GM Xiong, Jeffery USA 2667
GM Jones, Gawain ENG 2665
GM Grandelius, Nils SWE 2642
GM Lu, Shanglei CHN 2612
GM van Foreest, Jorden NED 2612
GM Bok, Benjamin NED 2608
GM l'Ami, Erwin NED 2605
GM Hansen, Eric CAN 2603
GM Tari, Aryan NOR 2584
GM Dobrov, Vladimir RUS 2499
WGM Tingjie, Lei CHN 2467
IM Guramishvili, Sopiko GEO 2370

Time control
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.


Both groups start on 14 January 2017. All rounds in Wijk aan Zee begin at 1.30pm, except for the last round on 29 Januaryy 2017, which begins at 12.00pm. Both rounds on the Chess On Tour days start at 2.00pm.

Saturday, 14. January, 1. Round
Sunday,15. January, 2. Round
Monday, 16. January, 3. Round
Tuesday, 17. January, 4. Round
Wednesday, 18. January, Rest Day
Thursday, 19. January, 5. Round in Rotterdam
Friday, 20. January, 6. Round
Saturday, 21. January, 7. Round
Sunday, 22. January, 8. Round
Monday, 23. January, Rest Day
Tuesday, 24. January, 9. Round
Wednesday, 25. January, 10. Round in Haarlem
Thursday, 26. January, Rest Day
Friday, 27. January, 11. Round
Saturday, 28. January, 12. Round
Sunday, 29. January, 13. Round

Tournament page Tata Steel Chess Tournament...


Tata Steel Festival, Program...

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 1/11/2017 11:12
@duckangelito :

Karjakin has won Norway 2013 and 2014, the World cup in 2015, the Candidates in 2016, and tied against Carlsen in the WC match.
He also won the blitz WC 2016.
Giri won Reggio Emilia 2012 and tied for first in 2015 in London (loosing the infamous tie-break match against MVL)

That MAY be the reason some people downplay his style compared to Karjakin.
You have to either win tournaments or be entertaining.
(And actually the fact that Karjakin DID win all those tournaments means he actually manage to win quite a lot of games, although he also has his drawing streaks).
Actually I think Giri has made effort recently to play more ambitiously and I think he will probably be rewarded sooner or later.
I don't really care about style, but I want will to win.
Duckangelito Duckangelito 1/10/2017 03:40
I don't understand how most of you guys downplay giris style without looking at karjakin ?! Does he play more exciting chess ?? I was not a fan of how he won the candidate and his way of playing the WCC was not exactly adventurous.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 1/10/2017 08:58
So much hatred against Giri. He is an excellent player, a husband and a father. I think he deserves some respect. He is solid, yes, he has the right to put higher priority on do-not-lose than on winning.
Paul Janse Paul Janse 1/10/2017 08:01
For all the Giri bashers: look at his previous Tata performances, including a 20 move win over Carlsen with Black. And in general, look at his games, not only at his results.
dysanfel dysanfel 1/10/2017 05:10
When was Giri's last win in a top level event? Anyone?
dysanfel dysanfel 1/10/2017 05:09
I agree that "The Artist" Giri is a dry decision. He is "The Artist" because he loves to draw.
dysanfel dysanfel 1/10/2017 05:08
Only So is playing from the US? WTF? I guess Caruana and Naka scare too many people. That is ok. Wesley will win the event.
saguni saguni 1/10/2017 02:08
Why has Anand not played at Tata Steel for 2 years now?
PatrickP PatrickP 1/9/2017 06:05
Time for your pills walirlan...
Karbuncle Karbuncle 1/9/2017 04:25
I hope Rapport busts out some oddball openings that he is known for. Makes for very interesting opening study!
walirlan walirlan 1/9/2017 03:17
I am deeply saddened by Giri's presence in the tournament. It's a joke, not good one.
Maybe it's time to change the score system. 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw? In this way Giri would disappear from the chess world and we would clean chess from players like him.
ashperov ashperov 1/9/2017 07:19
Decent mix.
turok turok 1/9/2017 04:46
I find it amazing a 2nd group is formed-I thought these were all GMs come on just shows inflated ratings. But I still enjoy the chess
thlai80 thlai80 1/9/2017 02:51
@Duckangelito lol haha! Why does Giri need to wait? Magnus Carlsen didn't, and usurped the world #1 at 18 years old. Giri is already way too late comparing to Magnus, and still waiting for the right time? If anyone, the one most likely to be the best after Magnus is Caruana.

@PatrickP, there's still hope ... if Magnus screw up too much until he drops all the points ... Caruana does not need to lift a piece to be #1 :)
Queenslander Queenslander 1/9/2017 12:11
Great to see world-class player Anish Girl compete.
Duckangelito Duckangelito 1/8/2017 08:52
Don't sleep on Giri too much ... The guy is just busy with other things. Wait until he really decides it's time to become the best !!
PatrickP PatrickP 1/8/2017 08:41
Of course Giri is present; he is Dutch, and this is a tournament in the Netherlands...

Van Wely is not mentioned but plays the A group again. Recently he has been in good form. I hope he does well!

A shame Caruana is not here so we could have a possible fight for the first place on the ELO rankings at the same time.

I'm really looking forward again to this tournament and I will visit it, like each year, a few days.
ChessTalk ChessTalk 1/8/2017 07:40
The_Jeh, it's more fun to watch a soccer game fought to a decisive result than it is to watch a draw fought to a draw. That's why chessplayers love magnus--he turns an even game into a win. Magnus overpressed in the WC vs Karjakin and turned a draw into a loss. That was fun to watch also. Giri has a little bit of time left to ... evolve.
The_Jeh The_Jeh 1/8/2017 07:06
Why do Europeans like football (soccer), but hate Giri?
amalwa amalwa 1/8/2017 06:52
Sad to see Giri play again. Will be a draw-fest.
CostaMaison3 CostaMaison3 1/8/2017 06:37
I like this tournament due to the mixture of players, unlike the other top tournaments where exactly same players are repeated.