Reports | January 10, 2012 9:59

Tata Steel Tournament preview (and three interviews to follow!)

Tata Steel Tournament preview (and three interviews to follow!)

Next Saturday the 74th Tata Steel Chess Tournament begins in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. Today we give a preview, and we'll post three interviews with distinguished participants in the coming days!

Event Tata Steel Chess Tournament | PGN via TWIC
Dates January 13th-29th, 2012
Location Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands
System 3 GM groups with 14 players-player double round robin
A group
Carlsen, Aronian, Radjabov, Topalov, Karjakin, Ivanchuk, Gashimov, Nakamura, Gelfand, Caruana, Kamsky, Giri, Navara, Van Wely
B group
Bruzon, Potkin, Motylev, Tiviakov, Harikrishna, Ernst, L'Ami, Reinderman, Timman, Nyzhnik, Lahno, Vocaturo, Harika, Cmilyte
C group
Sadler, Turov, Adhiban, Tikkanen, Grover, Brandenburg, Danielian, Paehtz, Sachdev, Hopman, Ootes, Haast, Schut, Goudriaan
Rate of play 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.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament, which runs from January 13th till 29th in Wijk aan Zee, has three main tournaments. They are played according to the 'round robin' system, whereby each competitor plays in turn against every other during the tournament. All three Grandmaster groups have 14 players and start on January 14th. All rounds begin at 13:30 CET, except for the last round on January 29th, which begins at 12.00 hours. There are rest days on January 18th, 23rd, and 26th. 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.


In the coming days we'll publish three interviews with participants of this year's Tata Steel tournament: a participant from each GM group who, in one way or another, makes some kind of 'comeback' in Wijk aan Zee. Tomorrow we'll have top seed in the C Group: Matthew Sadler. On Thursday we'll publish and interview with the legendary Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman and on Friday we have the winner of the 2005 FIDE World Championship in San Luis: Veselin Topalov. Stay tuned!

Yesterday we noted that the open tournament in Hastings is the longest running in the world, but the one in Wijk aan Zee is strong second. This year it's already the 74th edition, so we can expect something special for next year. Perhaps this is the reason why especially GM group B looks slighly weaker than we're used to, but surely we're about to enjoy yet another great festival!

Tata Steel 2012 | Participants A group

Title Name Country Rating Position
GM Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2835 1
GM Aronian, Levon ARM 2805 2
GM Radjabov, Teymour AZE 2773 5
GM Topalov, Veselin BUL 2770 6
GM Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2769 7
GM Ivanchuk, Vasily UKR 2766 8
GM Gashimov, Vugar AZE 2761 10
GM Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2759 12
GM Gelfand, Boris ISR 2739 16
GM Caruana, Fabiano ITA 2736 17
GM Kamsky, Gata USA 2732 20
GM Giri, Anish NED 2714 28
GM Navara, David CZE 2712 30
GM Van Wely, Loek NED 2692 54


Tata Steel 2012 | Participants B group

Title Name Country Rating
GM Bruzon, Lazaro CUB 2691
GM Potkin, Vladimir RUS 2684
GM Motylev, Alexander RUS 2677
GM Tiviakov, Sergey NED 2677
GM Harikrishna, Pentala IND 2665
GM Ernst, Sipke NED 2606
GM L'Ami, Erwin NED 2596
GM Reinderman, Dimitri NED 2581
GM Timman, Jan NED 2571
GM Nyzhnik, Illya UKR 2568
GM Lahno, Kateryna UKR 2557
GM Vocaturo, Daniele ITA 2545
GM Harika, Dronavalli IND 2516
GM Cmilyte, Viktorija LTU 2503


Tata Steel 2012 | Participants C group

Title Name Country Rating
GM Sadler, Matthew ENG 2660
GM Turov, Maxim RUS 2645
GM Adhiban, Baskaran IND 2561
GM Tikkanen, Hans SWE 2549
IM Grover, Sahaj IND 2532
GM Brandenburg, Daan NED 2527
GM Danielian, Elina ARM 2490
IM Paehtz, Elisabeth GER 2454
IM Tania, Sachdev IND 2411
  Hopman, Pieter NED 2342
  Ootes, Lars NED 2326
WIM Haast, Anne NED 2290
WIM Schut, Lisa NED 2290
FM Goudriaan, Etienne NED 2279


During the tournament there will be live commentary sessions in the 'Tata Steel Chess Pavilion', a huge tent located a 2-minute walk from the playing hall. The commentary begins every day at 14:30 CET, except for Sunday, January 29th, when the commentary begins at 13:00 CET.


Commentary schedule

Day Commentator(s)
Saturday 14 January 2012 Ivan Sokolov
Sunday 15 January 2012 Ivan Sokolov
Monday 16 January 2012 Gert Ligterink
Tuesday 17 January 2012 Jop Delemarre
Thursday 19 January 2012 Lex Jongsma
Friday 20 January 2012 Gert Ligterink and John van der Wiel
Saturday 21 January 2012 Hans Böhm and John van der Wiel
Sunday 22 January 2012 Genna Sosonko and Hans Ree
Tuesday 24 January 2012 Jan Smeets and Daniël Stellwagen
Wednesday 25 January 2012 Ivan Sokolov and Friso Nijboer
Friday 27 January 2012 Genna Sosonko and Paul van der Sterren
Saturday 28 January 2012 Hans Böhm
Sunday 29 January 2012 Hans Böhm

The festival includes many side events as well. There are nine-round and three-round events and a rapid tournament, where hundreds of amateurs in total will participate. On Sunday, January 29th the International Solving Championship (ISC) will take place. The solving championship will be held simultaneously in various countries at the very same time. In 2011 more than 200 solvers from 28 countries took part and the winner was the English GM John Nunn. More info here.

Below you'll find some statistics of the 73 previous editions. You can find much more at the special statistics page on the official website.

Wijk aan Zee statistics

Name # Tournament victories Name # Played games
Anand, Viswanathan 5 Donner, Johannes 298
Euwe, Max 4 Timman, Jan H 260
Korchnoi, Viktor 4 Ree, Hans 258
Portisch, Lajos 4 Langeweg, Kick 223
Donner, Johannes 3 Van Scheltinga, Theo 221
Geller, Efim 3 Van Wely, Loek 221
Kasparov, Garry 3 Anand, Viswanathan 195
Nunn, John D.M. 3 Piket, Jeroen 176
Carlsen, Magnus 2 Van Der Wiel, John T.H. 171
Aronian, Levon 2 Korchnoi, Viktor 160
Karpov, Anatoly 2 Adams, Michael 156
Larsen, Bent 2 Sosonko, Gennadi 151
Nikolic, Predrag 2 Kramnik, Vladimir 143
Olafsson, Fridrik 2 Andersson, Ulf 140
Polugaevsky, Lev 2 Hort, Vlastimil 140
Salov, Valery 2 Ivkov, Borislav 131
Short, Nigel 2 Leko, Peter 130
Sosonko, Gennadi 2 Topalov, Veselin 130
Timman, Jan H 2 Nikolic, Predrag 127
Topalov, Veselin 2 Portisch, Lajos 127
Van Scheltinga, Theo 2 Shirov, Alexei 123
Browne, Walter S. 2 Sokolov, Ivan 121
Cortlever, Nicolaas 1 Huebner, Robert Dr. 119
Andersson, Ulf 1 O`Kelly de Galway, Alberic 118
Dreev, Alexey 1 Ivanchuk, Vassily 104
Gelfand, Boris 1 Kramer, Haije 99
Ivanchuk, Vassily 1 Short, Nigel 99
Ivkov, Borislav 1 Kavalek, Lubomir 95
Karjakin, Sergey 1 Van den Berg, Carel 95
Keres, Paul 1 Browne, Walter S. 94
Kramnik, Vladimir 1 Cortlever, Nicolaas 90
Leko, Peter 1 Van der Sterren, Paul 85
Ljubojevic, Ljubomir 1 Miles, Anthony 84
Balashov, Yuri S 1 Matanovic, Aleksandar 83
Matanovic, Aleksandar 1 Olafsson, Fridrik 83
Milic, Borislav 1 Nunn, John D.M. 82
Nakamura, Hikaru 1 Gelfand, Boris 81
Nei, Iivo 1 Ljubojevic, Ljubomir 80
Bareev, Evgeny 1 Tiviakov, Sergei 80
O`Kelly de Galway, Alberic 1 Seirawan, Yasser 79
Petrosian, Tigran V 1 Kuijpers, Frans A 75
Pilnik, Herman 1 Bobotsov, Milko 75
Pirc, Vasja 1 Tal, Mikhail 67
Prins, Lodewijk 1 Carlsen, Magnus 65
Radjabov, Teimour 1 Aronian, Levon 65
Ribli, Zoltan 1 Morozevich, Alexander 65
Beliavsky, Alexander G 1 Polgar, Judit 65
Rossolimo, Nicolas 1 Bouwmeester, Hans 65
Sax, Gyula 1 Pilnik, Herman 62
Seirawan, Yasser 1 Salov, Valery 58
Spassky, Boris V. 1 Larsen, Bent 57
Stahlberg, Gideon 1 Geller, Efim 56
Taimanov, Mark E 1 Bareev, Evgeny 56
Tal, Mikhail 1 Karpov, Anatoly 53
Tartakower, Savielly 1 Rossolimo, Nicolas 53
Trifunovic, Petar 1 Grischuk, Alexander 52
Van den Hoek, Arnold 1 Karjakin, Sergey 52
Wijnans, Arthur 1 Ponomariov, Ruslan 52
Van Dijk, Jilling 1 Radjabov, Teimour 52
Bakker, Philip 1 Svidler, Peter 52
Botvinnik, Mikhail 1 Van Steenis, Hendrik 52
Bouwmeester, Hans 1 Ligterink, Gert 50


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


columbo's picture

my favorite of the year ! YES !!!

Anonymous's picture

next year they'll just invite the complete top50 in chess

Parkov's picture

Sadler is a lock for the C Group it seems

Knallo's picture

I agree! I think he will have a lot of fun.

Holy Mountain's picture

Go GATA, show these patzers who is the boss.

columbo's picture

which Patzers are you talking about ?

Eiae's picture

No online video/commentary thing?

Am_b_2's picture

Love Bianka and her videos...just waiting for that "I want to go to the sea side ..."

Chess_FM's picture

Anand, I understand not playing but why not kramnik? just because topalov is there?

mishanp's picture

He said he wasn't invited this year (though he did also suggest he wouldn't have played if he had been invited as he'd played in a lot of tournaments in a row):

Am_b_2's picture

So, if Anand refused then it means that organizers saved a ton of money on Anand, that they could have spent on Kramnik?

redivivo's picture

A couple of years ago it was Aronian that wasn't invited (in spite of having finished first, first, and 0.5 from first in his three latest starts). Kramnik hasn't won Wijk in 15 years and has said before that it's not one of his favourite events, especially not if Topalov is invited :-)

Anonymous's picture

Kramnik is great but with all the eager young talent the organizers can save money on his appearance fees and still have an exciting tournament.

Tony's picture

A lot of these invites go out year+ in advance. Top players are looking at their entire schedule and organizers are looking at multiple factors such as cost etc.
Topalov is an odd dude but he has played in tournaments with Kramnik so thats probably not the reason.

columbo's picture

really looking forward Nyzhnik Illya in the B group , and Giri of course !!!

Al's picture

Pity we have to wait another 4 days for some action!

Lets hope Carlsen brings us all a belated Christmas present and cracks Kasparov's ELO max rating record, or at least gets up in the mid 40s. I'm just waiting for the day, not long now...


Anonymous's picture

My favourite tournament of the year

bikemate's picture

3 GM groups with 14 players-player double round robin........ Double round robin?

fen's picture

I think it's just a round robin. Look at the dates for the tournament. There is not enough time for a double round robin.

RuralRob's picture

LOL - 14-player double-round-robin would have those poor players in the funny farm by the end of it!

Tony's picture

and the organizers in the poor house. Think about the older tournaments though with 12 or 16 players and double RR...

Excalibur's picture

RuralRob: Lol! Is the "funny farm" the psych ward" :)

ack's picture

Go Topalov!!

The Devil's picture

Mmmmm... the ever so sexy Elisabeth Paehtz

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