Carlsen, Mamedyarov, Ding Top Seeds At 81st Tata Steel Chess Tournament
A full playing hall in Wijk aan Zee. | Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Carlsen, Mamedyarov, Ding Top Seeds At 81st Tata Steel Chess Tournament

| 76 | Chess Event Coverage

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.

Update January 11, 2019: the drawing of lots during the opening ceremony on Friday afternoon resulted in the following pairings:

Tata Steel Chess 2019 round 1 pairings

Tata Steel Chess 2019 round 1 pairings

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

# Flag Name Rating Rank B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2835 1 1990
2 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2817 3 1985
3 Ding, Liren 2813 4 1992
4 Giri, Anish 2783 5 1994
5 Kramnik, Vladimir 2777 7 1975
6 Anand, Viswanathan 2773 8 1969
7 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2763 13 1990
8 Radjabov, Teimour 2757 14 1987
9 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2738 19 1998
10 Rapport, Richard 2731 23 1996
11 Shankland, Samuel 2725 27 1991
12 Fedoseev, Vladimir 2724 28 1995
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. 

Anish Giri Jorden van Foreest AlkmaarThe 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

# Flag Title Name Rating Rank B-Year
1 GM Korobov, Anton 2699 42 1985
2 GM Kovalev, Vladislav 2687 54 1994
3 GM Maghsoodloo, Parham 2679 66 2000
4 GM Bareev, Evgeny 2650 104 1966
5 GM l'Ami, Erwin 2643 117 1985
6 GM Gledura, Benjamin 2615 183 1999
7 GM Chigaev, Maksim 2604 227 1996
8 GM Esipenko, Andrey 2584 294 2002
9 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2539 499 2005
10 GM Van Foreest, Lucas 2502 768 2001
11 IM Keymer, Vincent 2500 784 2004
12 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 2477 1022 1985
13 IM Saduakassova, Dinara 2472 1081 1996
14 IM Kuipers, Stefan 2470 1097 1990

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, which you can watch on both and 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.

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory