What Is It About Carlsen and Tata Steel?
Photo Credit: Cathy Rogers
We all have certain tournaments where we consistently perform well: something about the environment puts us in a better mood, improves our focus, or gives us an ideal rhythm.
For Magnus, that tournament is Tata Steel.
Is it the seaside town setting? The restday soccer? The village-wide fascination with chess?
Whatever it may be, Wijk aan Zee is consistently the site of several of Carlsen’s most convincing tournament victories.
Leading into this year’s event, Carlsen had already won Tata Steel four times. Additionally, Wijk aan Zee was the site where Carlsen set the current record for the highest FIDE rating ever: 2872. Last year, Carlsen won the tournament outright after winning six consecutive games against top grandmasters.
This year followed suit: Halfway through the tournament, Carlsen had a three game winning streak, took over the lead, and finished the tournament undefeated and plus five.
Best Victory: His double-edged win against Pavel Elijanov, where he uncorked the bold 10…g5!?, a forgotten idea by Botvinnik in 1963.
This year’s victory gives Carlsen the record for the most outright Tata Steel wins ever.
How did the other grandmasters fare in this 13 round super-tournament? The great part of a longer tournament is that you get to see a more substantial view of a player’s abilities and character.
The tragedy for Caruana was the last round, when, needing a victory to tie with Carlsen, he lost a turbulent game to Tomashevsky.
Best Victory: His stellar victory over wunderkind Wei Yi