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.


Casey Abell's picture

I know it's happened before. Doesn't make it any better. If this is group A, Naiditsch deserves a slot.

And if Wijk passed on Carlsen, Gibraltar would be very happy to give him whatever it takes. Suddenly Wijk would look like the second-rate tournament. Let's face it, the game is all about Magnus right now. You may not like it, but that's the way it is.

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps to you, but not in the real world. It is also questionable if Carlsen would want to risk his rating and fame in a swiss.

redivivo's picture

Carlsen has won it twice, while for example Kramnik has won it once (in many more starts).

Anonymous's picture

1 sole winner and 1 shared first.

redivivo's picture

While Kramnik's only win was shared, but shared wins are also wins.

S3's picture

I guess you are missing the point

redivivo's picture

The point being that a shared tournament win doesn't count as a tournament win in Carlsen's case?

Anonymous's picture

Radjabov not invited, a SHAME ! he is number 4 in the world for a little while now ...

Bert de Bruut's picture

Out of all 2750+ players he is also is number 1 in making draws out of all top players, so playing too solidly makes Radjabov will not always be invited, while Nakamura and Caruna will.

redivivo's picture

I don't think draws matter here, when Leko drew more than 90% in these events he was still always invited, and also when fallen far from the top he can be certain to be picked. Some guys are just popular in this respect, and for example Radjabov and Morozevich are not among them while Leko is.

Anonymous's picture

Some players get/got more invites because of good management and personalities. Nothing new there.

Anonymous's picture

And, ofc, some people decline the invitation because they don't like their appearance fees.

Anonymous's picture

Andreikin is the Russian champ, he should be there as well

Casey Abell's picture

By the way, Gibraltar already has Ivanchuk and Kamsky, both rated above all but five players at Wijk. Wonder if they might go after some of the other higher-rated players that Wijk couldn't afford on that "smaller budget." Gibraltar does seem interested in competing with Wijk for the top talent.

Ruralrob's picture

Hou Yifan was one of the stars of last year's Gibraltar tournament. I'm surprised that Tata Steel managed to "steel" her away this year!

Casey Abell's picture

Yep, Gibraltar 2012 was Hou Yifan's peak, you might say. I'm sure Wijk wanted to lure her away, and maybe a slot in the A group was the only way to do that.

But looking objectively at her recent play in Hoogeveen, for instance, it hard to see how she gets much more than some draws and maybe a win or two against the field. Something like her minus-2 at Hoogeveen may be the ceiling for realistic expectations, and a worse result would not be a surprise.

redivivo's picture

Hou just doesn't belong in a field at this level as I see it. Results like Hoogeveen and the one linked below are more "normal" for her than Gibraltar when she faces stronger players:

And it's not like she is in some class of her own among the women, she is ranked third in that group and can score results like this one:

Casey Abell's picture

Let's put it this way. I'm sure that the organizers at Wijk are hoping really, really hard that Hou Yifan wins the knockout this month. Otherwise, they won't even have the women's champion anymore in the A group!

Just like I'm sure the organizers in Gibraltar are hoping really, really hard that Anna Muzychuk (or one of the other female players committed to their tournament) wins the knockout.

ff2017's picture

I don't necessarily disagree with the entirety of your post, but the second event you listed started 2 days after the first event ended, and that includes travel time etc. I mean, before the break she even lost to the lowest rated player in the tournament (a 2300). In an interview she did say she was dead tired. Without too much ex-post data mining, after the break over the next 6 games, she did go +4 vs. the rest of the field.

redivivo's picture

That's true, but to take a couple of other recent examples:

She's of course a great talent so not much to complain about, but not in a class of her own among the women. Polgar scored results like these when she was still 17 (while Hou will be 19 in a few months), so the difference is rather big:

Thomas's picture

Actually I wonder if Gibraltar 'competes' with Wijk aan Zee, or if the organizers talk to each other deciding who invites whom. Both probably wouldn't want players to start negotiating (random numbers) "Gibraltar offers 10,000 Euros, if you pay me 12,000 Euros ...."

Carlsen playing in Gibraltar if Wijk aan Zee doesn't invite him?? First, I wonder if he would want to/dare to play a Swiss open (Ivanchuk playing all the time everywhere is another story). Second, just how rich are the Gibraltar organizers??

Casey Abell's picture

The organizers haven't talked to me on the phone lately, so I really have no clue. But let's face it, Gibraltar schedules their tournament every year in direct competition with Wijk. After a while, you have to think they're trying to lure each other's players away.

And if Wijk for whatever reason didn't invite Carlsen, I have to think that Gibraltar would break every piggy bank on earth to get him. At one stroke they would become the top January tournament in the world and make Wijk look second-class.

Ruralrob's picture

The tournament's poster looks like a picture of a chess tournament in post-Sandy New Jersey.

Ruben's picture

I prefer to see Carlsen and by the way Kramnik and Radjabov did not much playing chess the last time. Anand Karjakin and Nakamura are no strong players? I don t understand this nr 1,2,5,6,7 of the world are playing here. What do people mean with no strong field? Football players that do not play for a long time for their club also will not be invited for the national team. Or maybe they did not wanted to play them self also this is possible. ( Kramnik and Radjabov )

Hugo van Hengel's picture

Is Robin van Kampen currently Holland's biggest talent? I thought that was Anish Giri.

Peter Doggers's picture

I know, but how long should we call a GM a talent? I decided that Anish is now established enough...

Anonymous's picture

I miss Kramnik is that field and also Radjabov and Grischuk. Very interesting to see Hou Yifan in this top tournament. It will certainly be extremely tough for her, but also a big learning experience.

mig's picture

Sorry but Hou will finish last as the punching bag. She could have actually competed in group B. Would have liked to see Kramnik or Radjabov or Ivanchuk or even Gelfy or a resurgent topalov.

Casey Abell's picture

That's a little rough. Hou Yifan did get four draws in six games at Hoogeveen against a competition level pretty similar to the lower half of the A group here.

I agree that if the A group really brought the heat with, say, thirteen of the top twenty lined against poor little Hou Yifan, the results wouldn't be pretty. But I don't think that she is a guaranteed last-place finisher in this A group. I could see her slipping ahead of, say, l'Ami and maybe somebody else who just happens to have a bad tournament.

brock's picture

i doubt hou will really finish dead last and i'm glad she got the invite, hopefully this will only be the first of many such invites to come for her bc her games are often decisive and entertaining. I do agree that perhaps having so many "local" players is not so great from a typical fan's POV but indeed if the organizers wish to promote their own players, Bravo to them for showing such support. Radja definitely will be missed.

Bartleby's picture

Wow, what a field to complain about! The first seven are top choices. The organizers did their budgeting in the second half of the field. That way Hou has a good chance to prove herself. I miss Ivanchuk, of course, but he probably enjoys Gibraltar too much to consider Wijk.

valg321's picture

hard to top last tata's lineup which was truly very good, almost ideal. Radja's abscence must be a blow for the organizers, at the very least i would have expected Grischuck or Mamedyarov in his place. Hou's inclusion in the A group looks premature to me, almost forced. It's obvious they're looking for a new Judit but i dont see it happening, at least not right now

Casey Abell's picture

The real Judit is playing in London in December. Maybe the Wijk organizers also tried to get her but couldn't swing the deal. Smaller budget and all that.

Funny how the top half of London tournament looks a lot like the top half of this group A. Magnus, Levon, Vishy and Naka.

Then the bottom half has a certain, let's say, local flavor in each tournament.

Casey Abell's picture

I will make one fearless prediction. The Anand-Leko game ends in a draw.

Really going out on a limb here.

Webbimio's picture

Wow! You got nerve of steel! (Tata, of course...)

RG13's picture

Doesn't Radjabov usually avoid tournaments with Aronian in them or vice versa because of the tensions between their two countries?

redivivo's picture


valg321's picture


S3's picture

Perhaps the line up is not to everyone's taste but as it is I'm happy that TATA managed to pay for at least 2 interesting tournaments again. I'll buy my steel and iron at their store this year and cross my fingers for the 2014 edition. Kudos to the organizers.

AK's picture

All this global crisis talk and as a result smaller budget is pretty silly. They simply didn't wish to spend more money on chess. For whatever the reason. They could have, but they didn't wish.

Tata is one of the largest steel companies in the world. Revenue in 2011: over 27 billion USD. Profit: 1.12 billion USD.

They could organize a whole World Championship cycle without blinking an eye. Organizing a Wijk tournament is pretty much peanuts for them. Half a peanut, to be precise. But nevertheless, it's still amazing that they continue to pay for all the fun. Just those excuses are silly.

As far as the players go... well pretty boring field. I like addition of Hou. Although maybe B would have been better for her. Other than her and the top 5 it's pretty boring stuff. B tournament lacks a lady. But Rapport and Dubov make things interesting.

Bert de Bruut's picture

You obviously have no idea how tight the cash flow is in cyclical industries like the steel business....

AK's picture

Tight cash flow? Sure, but Wijk didn't come out of nowhere. All this can be planned into companies budget. And really Tata is a company where we talk about billions or several hundred millions. How much more expensive it is to replace two lower-rated players with Radjabov and Grischuk for example? 100 000 euros combined with all expenses? Probably less. So they couldn't find extra 100 000 euros (at most) because of tight cash flow in cyclical industries. LOL.

Sorry, all this tight cash flow talk for a company like Tata considering extra amount of expenses we are talking here is silly.

The reality is that Tata never has been interested in supporting chess. Don't forget it was Corus at first and Tata became only involved, because they bought Corus. So far for our luck Tata hasn't dropped this old Corus project, but they sure are not willing to spend to the max. And it's not like they can't. I really don't even blame them. It's their money and frankly chess is not a very good investment. I just don't like silly excuses.

ShockeR's picture

it actually doesnt look that good tbh.. :(

and whats up with inviting Hou Yifan into every tournament.. I mean.. she is a strong player but.. seriosuly ???

if you want to invite a woman so badly just invite Queen Polgar...

im pretty disappointed ;(

ff2017's picture

Maybe cause Hou is a pretty popular player. To be honest I'm one of those people who don't even follow chess. I only started following professional chess because of Hou's success in Gilbraltar 2012 when she made headlines worldwide. In fact I pretty much ignore the men's tournaments and just follow the women's! For fishy less than casual players like me, 2500+ and 2800+ play are all equally opaque and I follow for personality/back story.

Also she has 1.5 million weibo (chinese twitter) followers, and who doesn't want a piece of that social media action.

ff2017's picture

Just following up, except for some truly legendary names, like Fischer/Kasparov/Karpov/Anand, I might be out of line here but I'm almost thinking that Hou might be the most well known name in Chess (you know ... 1.4 billion chinese people, and if Anand wasn't Indian I would have left his name out).
When she turned 18, parts of the Chinese media followed her around just to report that she donated blood. Over the last 5-6 years her moniker in China has been the "Little Genius Girl". The Chinese press swarm her whenever comes back from an overseas tournament. Last couple of years she took home the award for best non-olympic athlete in China.

Casey Abell's picture

All this talk about Judit, and she just posted this on Twitter...

CHESSBOXING! Shall I take this new sport, „the Bi-athlon of the 21st century” also by storm as woman? :)

Hm. Maybe a real "knockout" tournament?

adam's picture

yaaawn. the field is very interesting an versatile--especially in view of the limited budget--, and we're likely to witness a(nother) great tournament; but hey, some people can never be satisfied, right?! i wonder how many of you whiner princes spend _any_ money to support this two-week chess fans' treat in _any_ form...

KingTal's picture

Compared to the last few years this is a weaker line up and therefore dissapointing.

But hey, enough 26++ cannon fodder to be bashed by Aronian and Carlsen, so maybe we will see a +7 next year. xD

john's picture

why is Pentala and Hou in the lineup?


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