2024 Tata Steel Chess: World Champion Ding Returns, Carlsen Missing
World Champion Ding Liren returns to chess and Wijk aan Zee in 2024. Photo: Tata Steel Chess

2024 Tata Steel Chess: World Champion Ding Returns, Carlsen Missing

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World Champion GM Ding Liren will make his return to the global chess stage in Wijk aan Zee, while the former champion and eight-time Tata Steel Chess winner GM Magnus Carlsen is missing for the first time since 2014.

The lineups have been announced for the Tata Steel Chess Masters and Challengers, both 14-player round-robins, and include seven top-20 players and a total of three world champions. The 86th edition of the traditional super tournament takes place in the Dutch coastal town of Wijk aan Zee on January 13-28, 2024. 

“It will be another great edition,” said Tournament Director Jeroen van den Berg, and revealed a young lineup where no player is older than 33.

Player Country World Rank Rating
Ding Liren China 3 2780
Alireza Firouzja France 5 2777
Ian Nepomniachtchi FIDE 6 2771
Anish Giri Netherlands 8 2752
Gukesh Dommaraju India 12 2746
Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu India 15 2741
Parham Maghsoodloo Iran 18 2732
Wei Yi China 22 2729
Nodirbek Abdusattorov Uzbekistan 25 2722
Vidit Gujrathi India 28 2715
Jorden van Foreest Netherlands 36 2700
Alexander Donchenko Germany 75 2664
Max Warmerdam Netherlands 107 2638
Ju Wenjun China 342 2560

Chess fans will be eager to see Ding back in action in Wijk aan Zee as the world champion hasn't played a single official game since May. The 31-year-old revealed to earlier in November that he has struggled with an unspecified illness, which explains why he was forced to withdraw from several events since.

Ding is now said to be recovering and when he makes his first move on January 13, it will be his first official game in 244 days.

Unfortunately, fans will not get to see the reigning and former world champions battle it out. Eight-time Tata Steel Chess winner Carlsen is somewhat surprisingly absent in the lineup for the first time since 2014—the only other time he was missing since 2004.

Anish Giri won his first Tata Steel Chess in 2023, and was congratulated by 8-time winner Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess
Anish Giri won his first Tata Steel Chess in 2023, and was congratulated by eight-time winner Carlsen. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess.

Tournament Director Van den Berg explains why:

"Unfortunately, Magnus’ schedule does not allow him to participate with us this year. He plays several other tournaments in February and that means that he is not at our tournament for the second time in 20 years. We obviously hope to welcome him again in 2025. He really belongs to our tournament and is always welcome."

Also missing are world number-two GM Fabiano Caruana, and number-three GM Hikaru Nakamura, arguably the year's best performing classical players.

While the biggest attractions will be missed, plenty of other stars will guarantee excitement. Defending Tata Steel Champion GM Anish Giri is back, along with his Dutch compatriots, 2021 Tata Steel Chess winner GM Jorden van Foreest and GM Max Warmerdam, who will be making his debut in the Masters.

GM Alireza Firouzja will also return to Wijk aan Zee three years after his last visit. In 2021, the Tata Steel Chess organizers felt compelled to make a public apology to then 17-year-old Firouzja, who got visibly upset when the arbiters, preparing for a playoff, suggested moving his ongoing game to another board. The next year the organizers were unable to come to an agreement with the Iranian-born Frenchman, as there was a demand for compensation for the controversy the previous year.

In 2024, we also get to see the return of former prodigy GM Wei Yi, who made his debut in the Masters as a 15-year-old in 2016, when he scored 6.5/13. He hasn't played much outside China in recent years, and was knocked out of the FIDE World Cup by GM Vasyl Ivanchuk, but he remains among the top-25 players in the world.

Tata Steel Chess has a history of inviting some of the world's biggest talents, and this year is no exception. Indian prodigies GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and GM Gukesh Dommaraju are once again in, as is former world rapid champion GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

Other big names include two-time world championship challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who at 33 is remarkably the oldest player in the group and plays in the Masters for the 4th time. Also in is Grand Swiss winner GM Vidit Gujrathi, who has climbed to 15th in the world on the live rating list. GM Parham Maghsoodloo is playing for the second time in 2024 after his 6th place this year, and has since had an incredible last few months in which he's climbed to 12th on the live world rankings.

The Chinese World Champions Ju and Ding will clash in Wijk aan Zee. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Women's World Champion GM Ju Wenjun is the third Chinese player in the Masters, also becoming the third woman to play in the top group after GM Hou Yifan (2013, 2015, 2016, 2018) and GM Judit Polgar (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008).

Last year's Challengers winner, German GM Alexander Donchenko, gets a chance to improve on his 14th place from 2021.

The field in the Challengers includes five juniors, among them the new World Junior Champion GM Marc' Andria Maurizzi from France. Top seed is Ukrainian star GM Anton Korobov, ahead of GM Hans Niemann, who is currently involved in the Tournament of Peace in Croatia and was recently also confirmed for the London Chess Classic.

Van den Berg stated he is particularly proud of having four women in the tournament, three of whom play in the Challengers. "This has never happened before in the current format of the tournament," he says.

Player Country World Rank Rating
Anton Korobov Ukraine 72 2667
Hans Niemann United States 79 2659
Mustafa Yilmaz Turkey 93 2650
Salem Saleh UAE 109 2635
Jaime Santos Latasa Spain 110 2635
Erwin l'Ami Netherlands 122 2628
Leon Luke Mendonca India 159 2614
Daniel Dardha Belgium 275 2575
Marc' Andria Maurizzi France 286 2572
Liam Vrojlik Netherlands 301 2569
Harika Dronavalli India 586 2509
Stefan Beukema Belgium 1280 2437
Divya Desmukh India 1518 2418
Eline Roebers Netherlands 2102 2385

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament takes place January 13-28, 2024 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. The format is a 14-player round-robin. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment per move from move one.

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