Wijk aan Zee turns 80 — and other stats

by Johannes Fischer
1/12/2018 – Today, Friday, January 12, is the official start of the Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Tomorrow, Saturday, January 13th at 13:30 CET, the first round begins. The tournament in Wijk aan Zee is the first elite tournament of the year and always a great celebration of chess. It is also a tournament with a long tradition – this year it celebrates its 80th birthday. The tournament has written chess history and continues to do so today, which makes it tempting to look at some numbers. | Photo: TataSteelChess.com

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


From Hoogovens to Tata

The "Archive" on the tournament website offers some statistics about the tournament and its history. The first "Hoogovens Schaaktoernooi" was played in 1938 in Beverwijk, with four participants, and was won by Jiling Van Dijk and Philip Bakker who shared first with 2½ / 3.

From then on the tournament has been played every year, even during World War II. Over the years, almost the entire world elite has played in the tournament, but two players won more often than any of their rivals: Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand. They both have won five tournaments each and they are also both in line-up for 2018!

Magnus Carlsen at the Wijk tournament 2015 | Photo: Alina l'Ami

In 2007, Carlsen first played in Group A and finished at the bottom of the table — 13th place! But in the years to come he won five of the nine Wijk tournaments he played in, the first in his second attempt in 2008 when he shared first place with Levon Aronian. In the penultimate round Carlsen scored an important win against Vladimir Kramnik and afterwards Carlsen annotated this game. These comments can still be found in the ChessBase Mega Database.


Mega Database 2018

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Anand had a better start than Carlsen. He achieved the first of his five victories in 1989, in his rookie year in the Masters tournament in Wijk. He then played no less than 17 times, although in 1994 he didn't play in the tournament but rather a candidate match against Arthur Jussupow which Anand won 4½ : 2½.

Vishy Anand | Photo: Alina l'Ami

But when Anand plays his first move of the first round in 2018 it will be exactly 29 years to a day that he played his first move ever in Wijk. On January 13, 1989, Anand achieved a fine and energetic victory against English grandmaster Anthony Miles:


All in all, Anand has played 208 games in Wijk and scored an impressive winning percentage of 62.26%. Carlsen played 130 games with a winning percentage of 61.54%. But in the overall ranking of the "highest win percentage" Anand is "only" on place 26. That is, of course, due to the fact that the winning percentage tends to fall the more games someone plays. In fact, the player with the highest percentage to win is Arnold Van den Hoek, who in 1943 won with 5½ / 7.

Percentage-wise he is thus ahead of Boris Spassky who won in 1967 with 11 / 15, and Lev Polugaevsky who in 1966 and again in 1979, scoring 19 points from 26 games in total. On place four of this ranking list follows Garry Kasparov with 28½ points from 39 games.

Compared to Carlsen and Anand, Kasparov has played relatively few games in Wijk but when he did play he was very efficient. He started in three tournaments and won them all: 1999, 2000 und 2001. And in his very first tournament, in 1999, Kasparov played one of the most brillant games in the history of chess, defeating Veselin Topalov in an amazing game.


Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov

On this DVD a team of experts gets to the bottom of Kasparov's play. In over 8 hours of video running time the authors Rogozenko, Marin, Reeh and Müller cast light on four important aspects of Kasparov's play: opening, strategy, tactics and endgame.

However, the highest winning percentage of the players who played more than a hundred games in Wijk, was scored by Lajos Portisch. The Hungarian won the tournament no less than four times (1965, 1972, 1975 and 1978), scoring 84 points from 127 — that's a winning percentage of 66.67%!

Two Dutch players played the most games in total in the history of the tournament: Jan Hein Donner and Loek Van Wely. Donner played in 24 tournaments, won two of them, and played no less than 298 games in these tournaments. Van Wely played in 25 tournaments — in one more than Donner — but still played the same number of games as his Dutch compatriot. But unlike Donner, Van Wely never won in Wijk aan Zee. His best achievement was a fourth place in 2003.

These records of Donner and Van Wely will still be intact after the 2018 tournament. But Anand and Carlsen both have the chance to win their sixth tournament in Wijk aan Zee. The days to come will show whether they will write chess history again.

Complete Masters and Challengers groups

Name FED Elo World rank
Magnus Carlsen  Norway 2834 1
Fabiano Caruana USA 2811 2
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Azerbaijan 2804 3
Wesley So USA 2792 6
Vladimir Kramnik Russia 2787 7
Peter Svidler Russia 2768 10
Viswanathan Anand India 2767 11
Sergey Karjakin Russia 2753 14
Anish Giri Netherlands 2752 15
Wei Yi China 2743 22
Maxim Matlakov Russia 2718 32
Hou Yifan China 2680 64
Adhiban Baskaran India 2655 96
Gawain Jones England 2640 127
Name FED Elo Born
Vidit Gujrathi     India 2718 1994
Bassem Amin Egypt 2693 1988
Michal Krasenkow Poland 2671 1963
Anton Korobov Ukraine 2652 1985
Matthias Blübaum Germany 2640 1997
Erwin l´Ami Netherlands 2634 1985
Jeffery Xiong USA 2634 2000
Jorden van Foreest Netherlands 2629 1999
Dmitry Gordievsky Russia 2622 1996
Benjamin Bok Netherlands 2607 1995
Aryan Tari Norway 2599 1999
Harika Dronavalli India 2497 1991
Olga Girya Russia 2489 1991
Lucas van Foreest Netherlands 2481 2001

Ratings as of January 1, 2018 | Source: FIDE

Daily live round-up shows

We'll be re-capping each day's action with a live webcast at 21:00 CET (3pm EST) from a variety of familiar ChessBase contributors:

13. Jan Round 1 Yannick Pelletier
14. Jan Round 2 Daniel King
15. Jan Round 3 Simon Williams
16. Jan Round 4 Daniel King
17. Jan Round 5 Simon Williams
18. Jan Rest day  
19. Jan Round 6 Simon Williams
20. Jan Round 7 Daniel King
21. Jan Round 8 Yannick Pelletier
22. Jan Rest day 2  
23. Jan Round 9 Lawrence Trent
24. Jan Round 10 Yannick Pelletier
25. Jan Rest day 3  
26. Jan Round 11 Daniel King
27. Jan Round 12 Lawrence Trent
28. Jan Round 13 Daniel King
ChessBase authors

GM Daniel King has already recorded a preview of the tournament for ChessBase Videos:

You'll find all round-up shows in a special section

Tata Steel Chess en Wijk aan Zee 2018

All the broadcasts on Playchess.com at a glance (guide)



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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