Saturday, January 11

Tata Kicks Off At Wijk aan Zee

Amateurs play in same big room as elite Grandmasters in Wijk aan Zee.

Dating back to the 1970s, the beginning of each new calendar year promised a pair of elite chess tournaments: one in the coastal Dutch town of Wijk aan Zee and the other in the Andalusian city of Linares.  Both attracted the strongest Grandmasters on the planet, e.g. Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand and Carlsen.  Unfortunately, the Spanish financial crisis claimed Linares as a casualty in 2011.  However, the steel conglomerate Tata maintained the tradition at Wijk, despite a shrinking budget that reduced the number of participants this year to 12 (from 14) and the number of Top 10 players to merely 5.

The small decrease in size does in no way signify a decrease in the relevance of Tata Steel Chess.  Ten players rated over 2700 will battle over the next fortnight (through January 26).  These Grandmasters will author many thrilling games for audiences around the world to enjoy.

Indeed, these games yield worthwhile study material for any serious chess master (or wannabe master).  Any young or aspiring player rated over 1800 should take the time each day to review the latest games (up to 13 per round, counting the Challengers section).  Check out your favorite players or openings.  Try to learn from the middlegame maneuvers and endgame technique.  Ask yourself if you could play like the Grandmasters.  At the Internet Chess Club, go to the Events list under the Window menu or in the Activities console to find the games and daily videos.  Or visit the official website, which features instant analysis by the Houdini 2 engine.     

Hikaru Nakamura
Tata Masters (A section)
  • Titles: 12 Grandmasters, including 5 of the Top 10
  • Average Rating = 2743 FIDE
  • Favorites: Aronian, Nakamura, Caruana and Karjakin
  • Americans: Nakamura, Caruana (Italy-USA) and Wesley So (Philippines-USA)
  • Comment: Despite the conspicuous absence of World Champion Carlsen plus ex-Champs Kramnik and Anand, the competitive field still features #2 ranked Aronian and #3 Nakamura. 

Tata Challengers (B section)
  • Titles: 10 Grandmasters plus 4 International Masters (norms are possible)
  • Average Rating = 2579 FIDE
  • Favorites: Wojtaszek, Jobava, Yangyi Yu and Saric
  • American: Kayden Troff (Utah)
  • Comment: There is no clear favorite as several young (and underrated) wolves try to make their name.  Indeed, 2 of top 3 seeds lost in the very first round!

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