With the beginning of the new year, chess fans and players are getting ready for the first super tournament of 2019. It’s the Tata Steel Chess tournament, which will be opened on Friday afternoon and has its first round on Saturday. Magnus Carlsen will try to score his seventh title.
What would the Dutch chess scene, or rather the international scene, be without the continuation of the long history of the Tata Steel Chess tournament? With its first edition in 1938, “Wijk aan Zee” is still going strong and will see its 81st edition this month.
Precisely like last year, the field of the masters group has six players from the current top 10 and nine players from the top 20. Carlsen won’t be facing his opponent from his last world title match, Fabiano Caruana (the world number-two) but will find strong opposition from e.g. world numbers 3-5 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Ding Liren and Anish Giri.
2019 Tata Steel Tournament | Masters
|13||Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi||2695||45||1994|
|14||Van Foreest, Jorden||2612||192||1999|
Dutch fans have high hopes for Giri, who played what was probably the best tournament of his career last year when he tied for first place with Carlsen, only to lose the tiebreak to the world champion.
The two Dutch participants, Anish Giri and Jorden van Foreest, on Tuesday in Alkmaar for a “meet and greet” with chess fans and media. | Photo courtesy Tata Steel Chess.
It would be nice if the former world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand would play a role in the fight for first place as well, and why not? The latter has won the tournament five times, one less than Carlsen.
Another good old friend of the tournament is Teimour Radjabov, who played six times before and who finished among the top three on four consecutive times in the years 2007-2012. Ian Nepomniachtchi will play for the fourth time, after 2008 (in the B group), 2011 and 2017.
After a very successful year 2018 for both Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Sam Shankland, these two players could easily be doing better than their starting number. Richard Rapport will play for the third time (after 2014 and 2017) and will always remain popular for his enterprising openings.
Vladimir Fedoseev‘s best year so far was 2017, when he won both the Aeroflot Open and finished second behind Anand at the World Rapid Championship. At 23, he’s still young and promising. Below him on the list we find 2018 challengers winner Vidit Santosh Gujrathi and the biggest talent in the Netherlands at the moment, Jorden van Foreest.
2019 Tata Steel Tournament | Challengers
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Top seed in the challengers is Anton Korobov, the popular Ukrainian GM who always gives very candid interviews. His biggest rivals are Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus, who won the Aeroflot Open last year, and Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran, the current world junior U20 champion.
Another “old friend” is Evgeny Bareev, this year playing for the fifth time (and for the first time under the Canadian flag). He is a former winner of the main event; he took first place in 2002. Otherwise, the group is yet again a mixture of more experience and lots of rising stars.
The 81st Tata Steel Chess tournament will be held between January 11 and 27 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. The masters group will play two rounds at external locations: on Wednesday, January 16 in Alkmaar and on Wednesday, January 23 in Leiden.
Just like in previous years, the official video broadcast will be “proudly powered” by Chess.com, which you can watch on both tatasteelchess.com and Chess.com/TV. All rounds start at 1:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. New York, 4:30 Pacific) in Wijk aan Zee, except for three rounds:
- On January 16 (Alkmaar) the rounds starts half an hour later, at 2 p.m.
- On January 23 (Leiden) the rounds starts half an hour later, at 2 p.m.
- The final round, on Sunday January 27, starts 1.5 hours earlier, at noon local time.
Commentary will be provided by IMs Anna Rudolf and Lawrence Trent during the first week, and GM Robert Hess and IM Sopiko Guramishvili during the second week.