77th Tata Steel Starts This Weekend: Preview!

77th Tata Steel Starts This Weekend: Preview!

| 60 | Chess Event Coverage

The first super tournament of 2015 will be opened on Friday: the 77th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.

Preview time!

The Tata Steel tournament starts before you know it! This year it will be held January 9-25. The biggest news is that, after skipping last year, GM Magnus Carlsen will be playing in Wijk aan Zee again.

The world champion will come to the Netherlands for the 11th time in his career.

The world number two will also be present: GM Fabiano Caruana of Italy. The chess world still speaks about his seven straight wins at the Sinquefield Cup in September, which boosted his rating tremendously. Since then he dropped back somewhat, but he's certainly a favorite.

Another strong candidate for tournament victory is world number six GM Levon Aronian. The Armenian top GM finished shared first in 2007 and 2008, and won the tournament outright in 2012 and 2014. Will he level GM Vishy Anand's record of five victories this year?  

The Dutch fans will be cheering for GM Anish Giri, now solidly placed on the seventh spot in the world rankings. Critics have stated that Giri hasn't won a big event yet; will he do it this time? 

Today Giri took a break from his preparation to support chess in the country. He joined well-known commentator and journalist IM Hans Böhm, tournament director Jeroen van den Berg and others in a special chess train that went from The Hague to Venlo and back.

Giri traveling through the country and teaching some chess. | courtesy of Tata Steel.
French number one GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will participate only for the second time; he finished fifth in the 2011 edition. He's definitely a force to be reckoned with, and so is GM Wesley So, born in the Philippines but living in and playing under the flag of the United States.

Like in 2013, the top group has two grandmasters from China. Then GM Wang Hao played, but now GM Ding Liren was invited alongside GM Hou Yifan, the women's world champion. She only needs to gain three rating points in Wijk aan Zee to dethrone Judit Polgar as the world number one among women, for the first time in 26 years.

A player with many fans is GM Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine. Now 45, the Ukrainian is highly unpredictable: he can be a terribly strong player, but if he can't find his form things can go really bad. Besides, because of Chuky's broad opening repertoire, many GMs feel it doesn't make sense to prepare!

Polish GM Radek Wojtaszek has been in Wijk aan Zee before, but makes his debut in the top group. As one of Anand's seconds, he can be confident about his openings. GM Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan will be playing for the sixth time. His score isn't bad: two second places, and one (shared) victory. 

Another popular player is GM Baadur Jobava of Georgia, known for his creative openings. GM Loek van Wely is a familiar face in Wijk aan Zee: he has played in the top group of Wijk aan Zee since 1992! 

GM Ivan Saric of Croatia promoted from the challengers group last year.

2015 Tata Steel Masters | Participants

Title Name Fed Rtg Rk.
GM Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2862 1
GM Caruana, Fabiano ITA 2820 2
GM Aronian, Levon ARM 2797 6
GM Giri, Anish NED 2784 7
GM So, Wesley USA 2762 10
GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime FRA 2757 13
GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw POL 2744 15
GM Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2734 20
GM Ding, Liren CHN 2732 22
GM Jobava, Baadur GEO 2727 26
GM Ivanchuk, Vasil UKR 2715 33
GM Hou, Yifan CHN 2673 70
GM Van Wely, Loek NED 2667 81
GM Saric, Ivan CRO 2666 82

The challengers group will be very interesting to follow as well. As always the organisers strived for a mixture of experience and rising stars, old and young, and both male and female participants.

GM David Navara has played in the top group before, but this time his role is top seed in the “B” group. On the starting list his closest rival is GM Wei Yi, one of the biggest talents in the world and until recently the youngest GM on the planet.

The new youngest GM is playing too: Sam Sevian of the USA. He's 49 (!) years younger than the oldest participant, Dutch chess legend GM Jan Timman.

2015 Tata Steel Challengers | Participants

Rk. Title Name Fed Rtg
1 GM Navara, David CZE 2729
2 GM Wei, Yi CHN 2675
3 GM Shankland, Sam USA 2652
4 GM Van Kampen, Robin NED 2615
5 GM l'Ami, Erwin NED 2613
6 GM Potkin, Vladimir RUS 2608
7 GM Saleh, Salem UAE 2603
8 GM Timman, Jan NED 2593
9 GM Michiels, Bart BEL 2563
10 GM Gunina, Valentina RUS 2538
11 GM Klein, David NED 2517
12 IM Sevian, Samuel USA 2511
13 WIM Haast, Anne NED 2352
14 IM Dale, Ari AUS 2291

Three host cities:

Besides Wijk aan Zee, last year one round was held in Amsterdam and one round in Eindhoven. The organizers repeated this setup for 2015 with two different cities: The Hague and Rotterdam.

The fifth round will be held in De Rotterdam, the recently opened eye-catching building at the waterfront of the river Meuse in Rotterdam, designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas. 

On January 21, the 10th round of the Tata Steel Masters will take place in the recently renovated press centre Nieuwspoort in The Hague.

Further info:

All rounds begin at 1:30 p.m. local time, except for the last round on January 25, which begins at noon. 

The time control is 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.

You can find more information on the official website, and will provide daily coverage in the news section!

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