Announcement | November 05, 2012 12:20

75th Tata Steel tournament: players A & B group announced

Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin, Hikaru Nakamura, Wang Hao, Peter Leko, Anish Giri, Pentala Harikrishna, Loek van Wely, Ivan Sokolov, Erwin l’Ami and Hou Yifan are the names of the Tata Steel tournament's A group in January 2013. The 75th edition will be held 11-27 January, 2013 in Wijk aan Zee and today the participants of GM groups A and B have been announced in a press release.

The global crisis isn't over yet and so the organizers had to work with a smaller budget, but nonetheless the 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament has a strong and interesting field. Besides World Champion and five times winner Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen confirmed his participation as well. The young Norwegian, currently the highest rated player in the world and three points shy of an all-time rating record, will play for the 10th time in Wijk aan Zee.

Five players out of the current top seven will be present in Wijk aan Zee in January 2013. Besides Anand and Carlsen there's three times winner Levon Aronian, fast-rising star Fabiano Caruana and former winners Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin.

A remarkable name is 18-year-old Hou Yifan, the reiging Women's World Champion. She will be playing her first Grand Slam tournament ever. Another debutant is Pentala Harikrishna of India, who won the B group last year and thus promoted to the A group.

Traditionally a number of local heros have been included in the top group as well. Besides Anish Giri these are Loek van Wely, Ivan Sokolov and Erwin l’Ami.

Tata Steel 2013 | Participants A group

# Name Fed Rating Ranking Born
1 Magnus Carlsen NOR 2848 1 1990
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2815 2 1982
3 Fabiano Caruana ITA 2786 5 1992
4 Viswanathan Anand IND 2775 6 1969
5 Sergey Karjakin RUS 2775 7 1990
6 Hikaru Nakamura USA 2755 12 1987
7 Wang Hao CHN 2737 19 1989
8 Peter Leko HUN 2732 22 1979
9 Anish Giri NED 2715 28 1994
10 Pentala Harikrishna IND 2692 59 1986
11 Loek van Wely NED 2691 61 1972
12 Ivan Sokolov NED 2677 77 1968
13 Erwin l'Ami NED 2629 134 1985
14 Hou Yifan CHN 2606 203 1994

The B group is strong as well, and sees a mixture of young talents and experienced GMs. The top three players of the last World Junior Championship are present (Alexander Ipatov, Richard Rapport and Nils Grandelius), and also youngsters Daniil Dubov (who performed strongly at the Russian Championship) and Robin van Kampen (currently Holland's biggest talent). Former winners Jan Timman (1981 and 1985) and Predrag Nikolic (1989 and 1994) have accepted their invitation as well.

Tata Steel 2013 | Participants B group

# Name Fed Rating Born
1 Arkadij Naiditsch GER 2708 1985
2 Sergey Movsesian ARM 2688 1978
3 Romain Edouard FRA 2688 1990
4 Ni Hua CHN 2681 1983
5 Sergey Tiviakov NED 2659 1973
6 Predrag Nikolic BIH 2650 1960
7 Maxim Turov RUS 2630 1979
8 Richard Rapport HUN 2621 1996
9 Jan Smeets NED 2615 1985
10 Daniil Dubov RUS 2600 1996
11 Nils Grandelius SWE 2593 1993
12 Alexander Ipatov TUR 2593 1993
13 Jan Timman NED 2579 1951
14 Robin van Kampen NED 2574 1994

The field of the C group will be announced later. The 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament will be held 11-27 January 2013 at sports centre De Moriaan in Wijk aan Zee.

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.


Anonymous's picture

No Radjabov ? No Kramnik ? No Anand ? No Andreikin ? No Grishuk ? No NOTHING

Seeley's picture

Anand is there, actually

PircAlert's picture

Anand should not accept invitation if he is not to be addressed as world champion and be listed first in the list on the official tournament site. Otherwise misleading as to who is the top player here.

Anonymous's picture


redivivo's picture

It should also be officially proclaimed that the reason that he isn't winning any games is that he isn't trying but would win all of them if he just wanted to.

Anthony Migchels's picture

I'm pretty sure Vishy is both man and sage enough to realize a 70 point rating difference is difficult to ignore.....

redivivo's picture

Now that was a very disappointing field. Sokolov, l'Ami, van Wely, Leko, Hou but no Radjabov or Kramnik?

Tom Servo's picture

complain complain complain

Ahmet GUREL's picture

There is like a small B group within A group.

Thomas's picture

Harikrishna qualified for the A group, some local players are OK (even if three plus Giri who also plays other supertournaments is a lot), then only Hou Yifan is a publicity stunt (she would be seeded 10th in the B group).

Regarding "smaller budget", I wonder how many strong players could be added to the A group if they - for once - dared to not invite Carlsen. Would they get Radjabov and Grischuk and Andreikin (maybe even Kramnik) for the prize of Magnus?

BTW the following players who might have been under consideration for the A or B group do (prefer to?) play in Gibraltar: Ivanchuk, Kamsky, Wojtaszek, Adams, Shirov, Bruzon, Short, Vachier-Lagrave, Le Quang Liem.

RealityCheck's picture

Did you mean to say-- for the "price" of ...?

Remco G's picture

They have three players who will get coverage in Dutch media -- Carlsen, Giri and Hou. Radjabov, Grischuk, Andreikin, you can add ten more but they'll be completely useless from a publicity viewpoint.

strana's picture

This is exactly the point. Sad but true. No more russians, ukrainians, azeris.... . That is why since long time i prefer strong opens like aeroflot, gibraltar, chigorin or european individual, where there are many 2700 plus young and improving 2500-2600 GMs. Anyway, it is good to see Rapport and Dubov in the B tournament.

Remco G's picture

They have three players who will get coverage in Dutch media -- Carlsen, Giri and Hou, as well as Timman in the B group. Radjabov, Grischuk, Andreikin, you can add ten more but they'll be completely useless from a publicity viewpoint.

Thomas's picture

I see your point but would blame Dutch (mainstream) media, at least a little bit. First, at least Aronian, Anand and Caruana should also get coverage. Second, why couldn't a mainstream journalist (or a chess journalist writing for mainstream media) write a story about Andreikin, after he already wrote ten stories each about Carlsen and Giri?

Anonymous's picture

Give me one reason why an average, non chess-playing Dutch reader, interested in checking the sports pages of a regular newspaper, would be interested in reading about Andreikin. What's the story? There IS no story.

Thomas's picture

How do you know that there is no story? For the time being it seems that such a story hasn't yet been written and published (at least not in the Netherlands). It might be challenging for a journalist [I don't know if Andreikin speaks fluent English ...], and it won't happen if he isn't invited to Wijk aan Zee. But "there is no published story" doesn't mean that there is no story ... .

Anonymous's picture

There is no story.

Saji's picture

Dutch medias are biased with their players. If they have not been included, the media coverage will be poor in Dutch. Thefore they are focrced to include some low rated players from Dutch. Financial problem will also be another factor for not inviting great players.

Anthony Migchels's picture

It's not just that: it's also a great stimulus for Dutch chess. Dutch tournaments have done a great deal for the world's elite over the last 80 years or so. It's good that dutch players profit from it aswell.
But I feel, much as I like him, Erwin might be a tad light in this field and he has not shown anything special over the last years.
I don't know what the girl is doing here. She'll suffer badly and it will do nothing for her development and confidence. Hopefully her dreams are not permanently destroyed, it would not be the first time talents were messed up by overambitious handlers and tournaments

S3's picture

Hou will do fine, no worries

redivivo's picture

Andreikin's best achievement is being one of six players to finish +1 in the Russian Championship and then win the rapid tiebreak. Well done by him but nothing you get invitations for unless you reach a top 20 position.

It's more surprising to me that Radjabov was left out, his Wijk results have been excellent. In his latest starts he scored +3 (shared second), +2 (shared second), +2 (shared third), +4 (shared first). Now that he's just a few points away from 2800 and the 7th highest rated player ever it would seem natural to invite him.

Thomas's picture

Top 20 is arbitrary, Andreikin is already #23 on the live rating list. Maybe he rose too quickly, just a few months ago (with Elo 2700) he might have been a candidate for the B event but this would by now be a bit insulting.

Radjabov is another story. I agree it's surprising that he was left out, but even the very strongest players do not _have to_ be invited all the time. Maybe he declined an invitation, maybe he had unreasonable (for the organizers) financial demands, who knows? It might be more suprising that Kramnik is ignored twice in a row?

redivivo's picture

"Maybe he declined an invitation, maybe he had unreasonable (for the organizers) financial demands, who knows? It might be more suprising that Kramnik is ignored twice in a row?"

Both are surprising, but Radjabov has more than once said that Wijk is his favourite tournament and his results have been Carlsen level in the event, but he has only been invited once the last four years, and he has been rising steadily. Kramnik has on the other hand Wijk as his least favourite tournament, still I would certainly invite both among my first five picks.

Maybe it's also a question of what players are fan/sponsor/organiser favourites. Leko has always been one of the first players to be invited to every top event the last 15 years, whether it's Dortmund, Linares, Tal Memorial or Wijk.

I used to be surprised that Radjabov never was invited to for example Tal Memorial year after year (or Wijk, Dortmund, etc), but finally he was invited for the first time this year and was 0.5 from winning. Still I don't think he ever will be able to compete with someone like Leko with regards to popularity among the organisers. I wonder if it has to do with money, but I guess we'll never know.

Thomas's picture

Based on what one reads in various forums, Leko certainly isn't a fan favorite ... . It doesn't make sense to compare invitations over the last 15 years between Leko (now 33) and Radjabov (now 25), but there are several reasons why Leko got more frequent invitations:
- he was a child prodigy at a time when this was still fairly uncommon
- he was always the strongest player from Hungary, while Radjabov (within Azerbaijan) competed with Mamedyarov and Gashimov
- and yes, he had a capable manager. Furthermore, Leko himself seems to be a pleasant multilingual persons, while there were some issues with radjabov's hate remarks about Armenians.

redivivo's picture

"there were some issues with radjabov's hate remarks about Armenians"

I don't know about any such remarks except one ridiculous "we all hate Armenians"-quote that was made up by Azerbaijani yellow press once (and quickly denied by Radjabov himself). I don't know of him ever actually saying anything even remotely similar to that, and Aronian has even referred to him as "my Caucasian brother". Leko is certainly considered to be a pleasant person and I think that is more important to the organisers than if Radjabov would be seen as the more drawish player of the two. The last 15+ years I think Leko was invited to more or less every Tal Memorial, Linares, Wijk and Dortmund but declined a couple of times when on a break. Players like Gelfand, Morozevich, Grischuk or Radjabov could be grateful if they were invited to at most one of these events every year but that's how it works.

Thomas's picture

Well, Leko was top10 (often top5) throughout the first decade of this millennium - and before that he was the most promising teenager. From the players you mention only Morozevich is about comparable in that respect - but may have suffered from the fact that organizers invite a limited number of Russians, and not always the same ones. Radjabov entered the top10 in April 2007 (at the age of 20) and established himself in the top5 only November 2011.

redivivo's picture

"I wonder how many strong players could be added to the A group if they - for once - dared to not invite Carlsen. Would they get Radjabov and Grischuk and Andreikin (maybe even Kramnik) for the prize of Magnus?"

Or what about daring not to invite the World Champion that people will keep saying of course isn't trying to win his games etc etc as in his last four-five tournaments.

eric's picture

exactly! I think Kramnik, Radjabov and Topalov were invited, I am not sure. But on the other hand, they could consider Chucky, Shirov, Gelfand, Moro, Domingez might have been consider too. So, let's see, drawing with the top sits and winning as much as against bottom sits might be the first strategy. I am looking forward to see Caruana and Anand's performances by the way.

Simon's picture

And still nô Vachier-Lagrave and no Bacrot...

harvey's picture

Kramnik is definetly missing in this field.

harvey's picture

Kramnik is definetly missing in this field.

Frits Fritschy's picture

It has always been the policy in Wijk aan Zee not just to invite the strongest players. They provide top level training for the best Dutch players, they give promising youngsters a chance above their rating level and they promote the taking part of strong women players in mixed competition. Which I think is a laudable and interesting format.
I'm very interested in what Hou Yifan will do. It may be a do-or-die chance for her: she is still one of the most promising young players, but she will have to hurry if she wants to do more than win all the women tournaments.

Thomas's picture

Generally +1 - however what's missing this (next) year in the A group is to "give promising youngsters a chance above their rating level". In the recent past, such names included Nakamura, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, Wang Hao and Vachier-Lagrave (some then entered the absolute world top, others didn't). This time, Andreikin would be a logical choice (who else?).

As to women in mixed competitions, I agree but they (Hou Yifan and others) might better fit in the B group. The complete lack of women in the B group is a bit surprising, or maybe not as Gibraltar attracts them with rather generous women prizes - the top35 as of today includes no less than 15 women:
Koneru and the Kosintsevas are missing from the list (which isn't final yet).

Hou Yifan has already proven herself in mixed events - certainly Gibraltar 2012, and (confirming her rating in) Hoogeveen wasn't exactly a failure either. The Tata Steel crown group may be 'easy' for her because anything but last place would already be a surprise and an achievement!?

Frits Fritschy's picture

Let's concentrate on Hou as a young player, rather than a woman player. We have gotten pretty used to her name, but she is just 18 years old, four years younger than Andreikin. Why shouldn't she reach top level? She is still one of the strongest of her age group (>1994), but last year (after Gibraltar) she seems to be falling behind. Happens more with young players, one year there is a 150 point rise, next year there is a stand still.
She is also a world champion - I'm not so sure if that is something that furthers her career, she might develop more freely without it.
The Tata organisers are taking a risk with her; if she fails they'll be sorry they haven't chosen an Andreikin, and everyone will tell them, But when she has a good start, publicity is guaranteed.
Hou herself also takes a risk. It can be her big breakthrough,or at least give her the confidence she can compete with the best. But she also takes a risk. The lions can devour her completely.
I once ended a Dutch junior championship with 1/9. Still gives me shivers.
So, an interesting decision by the Tata organisers. Time will tell whether it was wise.

redivivo's picture

As a young player she is still more than 100 points behind the younger Giri. To me the fact that she hasn't really moved rating wise the last four years is a sign that she won't make it to top 50 level, but she's good anyway, just very far from Polgar (and at the moment also rated behind Koneru).

Thomas's picture

Giri is a special case, but Hou Yifan is also slightly lower-rated than Swiercz, Robson, Rapport and Nyzhnyk, and clearly lower-rated than Yu Yangyi. Would any of these players be considered for the A group? For better or for worse, it matters that Hou Yifan is a woman.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Well, she wasn't lower-rated a year ago - the ups and downs of young players.
But the main thing is: Chessvibes Forum isn't the organiser, it's Tata. If anybody here wants a different line-up, organize your own tournament. Tata has good reasons to do as they do, and they pay for it. Maybe those other young players weren't available, maybe they hoped to attract more attention this way. That is a very valid argument! (And it already seems to be working...)

Thomas's picture

Of course the organizers decide, Chessvibes forum does not and cannot because we wouldn't reach a consensus anyway! But we can still discuss and wonder about their decisions - if you and I were invited to the A group (or even the C group) others would certainly be puzzled :)

In any case, it does matter that Hou Yifan is a woman - if any of the male players I mentioned won a tournament where the other players are rated below 2600 we would hardly notice.

Sofie's picture

Big surprise: no players from India in the B-group

RealityCheck's picture

Fantastic line-up!

Anonymous's picture

Indeed. The "blood thirsty" fans wiill definatly enjoy it.

Charles's picture

if someone would like to organize the best possible tournament with 14 players, this would be the A group: Anand, Carlsen, Aronian, Krámnik, Topálov, Radjabov, Caruana, Nakamura, Karjakin, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Grischuk, Morozevich and Leko. I guess we'll have to wait a long time for something like that. In the mean time, Smeets, Van Welys, L'Amis and other people take their place for nothing.

Septimus's picture

Looks like a prime field for Carlsen to smash the 2850 record. Apart from Aronian and Caruana, the rest of the field is pretty weak (relative to how they have played him).

With Nakamura out of form and Anand hiding his preparation, there are no serious challengers. Maybe Karjakin will pose some questions.

Good to see Yifan participating in the main group. Maybe Koneru could have played in the B group?

Anonymous's picture

lol @ "Anand hiding his preparation"

S3's picture

Nah it's not funny really.
And the rest is not true either, f.i. both Nakamura and Karjakin have won Tata before Carlsen and guys like Giri and Leko have a plus score against him. The dutch players will decide who wins it all.

arkan's picture

Yes this looks like a great opportunity to score at least 10/13 for Carlsen!

great event, i will be visiting

redivivo's picture

Last Wijk was different level compared to the coming year. It had one player outside top 30 (all were top 55), this year five players are rated 59th and lower, some of them considerably lower.

Casey Abell's picture

Hou Yifan in the A group does seem uncomfortably like affirmative action. And i"Ami and Sokolov in the A group looks completely like hometown action.

If that's the A group, Naiditsch clearly deserves a spot. Kind of a slap in the face to put a top-40 2700 player in the B group, in fact.

As for not inviting Magnus, come on, get serious. Gibraltar would pay whatever it takes to lure him if Wijk turned up their noses at him.

Anonymous's picture

"Kind of a slap in the face to put a top-40 2700 player in the B group, in fact. "

It's not a slap in the face and has happened many times before at this tournament Casey.

"As for not inviting Magnus, come on, get serious. Gibraltar would pay whatever it takes to lure him if Wijk turned up their noses at him."

So what, if it means that this tournament is improved with more interesting players ? Carlsen has participated 6 times and won this tourney once, it's not like it couldn't do without him.


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