Norway Chess Field Announced: Wang Hao Returns From Retirement
Wang Hao at his last tournament: the FIDE 2020-2021 Candidates. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Norway Chess Field Announced: Wang Hao Returns From Retirement

| 70 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen once again tops the field of this year's Norway Chess tournament, scheduled for May 30-June 10, 2022 in Stavanger, Norway. A surprising name this year is that of GM Wang Hao, who comes back from retirement.

The tournament in Stavanger will be celebrating its 10th edition this year. The organizers couldn't get the current world's top 10—always a wish for the ever-ambitious Norwegians—which is most likely because of the FIDE Candidates Tournament that starts only five days after play ends in Norway. Nonetheless, there's once again a stellar field, with in fact two candidates: GM Richard Rapport and GM Teimour Radjabov.

Norway Chess 2022 | Participants

# Fed Name Rtg Country
1 Magnus Carlsen 2864 Norway
2 Wesley So 2778 USA
3 Richard Rapport 2776 Hungary
4 Anish Giri 2773 Netherlands
5 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2771 Azerbaijan
6 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2758 France
7 Teimour Radjabov 2753 Azerbaijan
8 Viswanathan Anand 2751 India
9 Wang Hao 2744 China
10 Veselin Topalov 2730 Bulgaria

Carlsen tops the field, as always, and this time he has almost a 100-point rating gap with the number two, but the rest of the field will be fighting hard to keep him away from his fifth victory. The world champion won in the last three editions, and also in 2016.

In a field with expectedly no Russian grandmasters, the only other former winner in the field is GM Veselin Topalov, who won the third edition in 2015. That edition started with his memorable win on time against Carlsen, who wasn't aware of the time control. Although he never officially retired, Topalov has played few classical tournaments, even before the coronavirus pandemic began. The last one was Gibraltar in early 2020.

"I have been invited simply because many of the candidates cancelled Norway Chess and apparently this year Russians are not invited," wrote Topalov in an email. "Also, I don’t think the format benefits me, but I will try to do my best."

It's a bit of a similar story for GM Viswanathan Anand, India's legendary five-time world champion whom we have seen as a commentator on many occasions recently but whose last classical tournament was Wijk aan Zee 2020. In any case, rumors about Anand's or Topalov's retirement are greatly exaggerated!

A player who did announce his retirement is Wang. He made the statement almost a year ago, right after finishing the 2020-2021 FIDE Candidates Tournament:

"I will probably try to do something else outside of playing professionally because I have some health issues and I just don't think that I can continue this profession. I will do coaching, I will do investment, but I think I cannot do anything which gives too much stress."

Wang Hao chess
Wang Hao, back from retirement. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In a phone call with today, Wang gave more details, saying that he has suffered for about a year from what was probably a stomach ulcer. Basically, throughout 2021, he was dealing with this, including during the Candidates Tournament, but since the start of 2022, he has been feeling better after a long time of rest.

"I did not expect this invitation at all and thought for about a week before I decided to accept it. After not traveling for a long time, I can use the fresh air!" joked Wang, who applied for a visa two days ago and is not expecting any trouble in getting to Norway.

The other players in the field, GMs Wesley So, Anish Giri, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, are very strong as well and can all win this event if they show up in top shape.

The 2022 Norway Chess tournament will start on May 30 with a blitz tournament, after which the first round is held on May 31. The last round is on June 10. The exact format is yet to be announced; in previous years, players played an armageddon each day in case of a draw in their classical game.

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