2017 Tata Steel Chess Tournament: Preview

2017 Tata Steel Chess Tournament: Preview

| 40 | Chess Event Coverage

The new year has just begun, and that means the first and most traditional super tournament is about to start. The 79th Tata Steel Chess Tournament will be held January 14-29 in Wijk aan Zee, Rotterdam and Haarlem.

As always, the tournament will be pairing the very best players in the world with (slightly) lesser-known stars as well as rising super-talents. This will be the case in both the Masters group and the Challengers.

Headlining the field is World Champion Magnus Carlsen, the winner in Wijk aan Zee in the last two years. He has won the tournament a record five times, a record shared with Viswanathan Anand.

Magnus Carlsen can win Wijk aan Zee for the sixth time. 

After a disappointing event in Doha, Qatar, Carlsen went on a holiday before traveling to the Netherlands. (He still hasn't been back to Oslo since October.) This will be the 13th time for him in Wijk aan Zee. When he played for the first time, in 2004, he won the C-Group (which has ceased to exist) at age 13. Since then, he only skipped the 2014 edition.

One of Carlsen's main rivals will be Sergey Karjakin, his opponent in the 2016 world championship match and the 2016 World Blitz Champion. Karjakin won Wijk aan Zee in 2009. One thing is clear: This Russian grandmaster won't be afraid of the Dutch winter.

If in good shape, another player that should be considered a favorite is Levon Aronian. The Armenian number one will play for the tenth time; he has won four.

Perhaps the biggest rival for Carlsen will be Wesley So. The American grandmaster of Philippine origin has just won his first super tournament: the 2016 Sinquefield Cup. He also played an important role in the gold-winning Olympic team, U.S.A.

Wesley So is one of the two top favorites in Wijk aan Zee this year.

After a slight slump, local hero Anish Giri was back on track and played well at the Tal Memorial last month, during which he also became a father. He finished behind Ian Nepomniachtchi, who thus won his first super tournament as well.

Two Indian grandmasters will be playing, but five-time world champion Vishy Anand is not one of them. Instead, we'll see Pentala Harikrishna and Baskaran Adhiban. The latter edged out Eltaj Safarli and Alexei Dreev on tiebreak last year in the Challenger's group.

The other participants that have been announced are Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Richard Rapport, Wei Yi, and Loek van Wely.

2017 Tata Steel Masters | Participants

# Fed Title Name Rating Position
1 GM Carlsen, Magnus 2840 1
2 GM So, Wesley 2808 4
3 GM Karjakin, Sergey 2785 8
4 GM Aronian, Levon 2780 9
5 GM Giri, Anish 2773 10
6 GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2767 11
7 GM Harikrishna, Pentala 2766 12
8 GM Eljanov, Pavel 2755 15
9 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2750 18
10 GM Andreikin, Dmitri 2736 24
11 GM Wei Yi 2704 38
12 GM Rapport, Richard 2702 40
13 GM Van Wely, Loek 2695 49
14 GM Adhiban, Baskaran 2653 102

As always, the participants of the Challengers group will be fighting for a spot in the 2018 Masters. This year, there are ten players rated higher than 2600. Traditionally the group sees a mixture of experience, rising stars and female players.

2017 Tata Steel Challengers | Participants

# Fed Title Name Rating
1 GM Ragger, Markus 2697
2 GM Smirin, Ilia 2667
3 GM Xiong, Jeffery 2667
4 GM Jones, Gawain 2665
5 GM Grandelius, Nils 2642
6 GM Lu Shanglei 2612
7 GM Van Foreest, Jorden 2612
8 GM Bok, Benjamin 2608
9 GM l'Ami, Erwin 2605
10 GM Hansen, Eric 2603
11 GM Tari, Aryan 2584
12 GM Dobrov, Vladimir 2499
13 WGM Tingjie Lei 2467
14 IM Guramishvili, Sopiko 2370

The 79th Tata Steel Chess Tournament takes place January 13-29 2017 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. As in previous years, two rounds will be played in external locations. On January 19, the fifth round will be held in Feyenoord's football stadium De Kuip in Rotterdam. On January 25, the 10th round will be held in theater De Philharmonie in Haarlem.

The opening ceremony will be held on Friday, January 13, and the first round for both sections will take place Saturday, January 14, starting at 1:30 p.m. local time which is 4:30 a.m. Pacific.

Note that will be producing the live broadcast with GM Yasser Seirawan, which will be available on the tournament website and on And look for daily reports here of each round, including photos, games, and quotes from the day's action.

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