January 09, 2013 9:39

75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament starts in three days (UPDATED)

Logo Tata Steel tournament 2013

The 75th jubilee edition of the second longest running tournament in the world will take off on Saturday with the first round of the Grandmaster Groups A, B and C. Traditionally, a few events will take place earlier: on Thursday there's a "meet & greet" with the drawing of lots of GM group C, on Friday there's the official opening ceremony with the drawing of lots of groups A and B and the first amateurs will be moving the pieces on Friday night in the Weekender. 

Now that the famous Linares supertournament has disappeared from the chess calendar, perhaps it's time to start calling the Tata Steel tournament the Wimbledon of chess. It might not be the strongest tournament (for this we should look at the Tal Memorial or the London Chess Classic), but the formula of three big groups of fourteen players is still unique.

The event has been held since 1938 and until 1999, the year of the famous game Kasparov-Topalov, the event was called Hoogovens Tournament. Between 2000 and 2010 the name was Corus Tournament and since 2011 it is called Tata Steel tournament, after Tata Steel bought Corus in April 2007 for 8.1 billion Euros. With an annual crude steel capacity of 23.8 million tonnes it is currently the world's twelth largest steel company.

Traditionally there will be three "Grandmaster Groups", single round robins with fourteen players. They play from Saturday, January 12th till Sunday, January 27th. The rounds start at 13:30 CET except for the last round which starts at 12:00 CET. There are three rest days: January 16th, 21st, and 24th. The rate of play for all groups is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from the first move.

The top group of the 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament will have both World Champion and five times winner Vishy Anand, and world number one and two times winner Magnus Carlsen. The young Norwegian, who now holds the highest ever rating ever of 2861, will play for the 10th time in Wijk aan Zee.

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

A remarkable name is 18-year-old Hou Yifan, the former 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 2861 1 1990
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2802 3 1982
3 Fabiano Caruana ITA 2781 5 1992
4 Sergey Karjakin RUS 2780 6 1990
5 Viswanathan Anand IND 2772 7 1969
6 Hikaru Nakamura USA 2769 9 1987
7 Wang Hao CHN 2752 14 1989
8 Peter Leko HUN 2735 19 1979
9 Anish Giri NED 2720 29 1994
10 Pentala Harikrishna IND 2698 49 1986
11 Loek van Wely NED 2679 68 1972
12 Ivan Sokolov NED 2663 82 1968
13 Erwin l'Ami NED 2627 145 1985
14 Hou Yifan CHN 2603 215 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 (who tied for first at the London Classic Open and the Basel Open recently). Former winners Jan Timman (1981 and 1985) and Predrag Nikolic (1989 and 1994) are present as well.

Update 9 January 2013, 12:57 CET: Grandmaster Sipke Ernst from Groningen replaces Ni Hua in the Grandmastergroup B. The Chinese GM had to withdraw from the tournament due to a serious illness. Ernst, rated 2556, is the current number 12 in the Netherlands, exactly one place behind Jan Timman.

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 2686 1990
4 Sergey Tiviakov NED 2655 1973
5 Maxim Turov RUS 2630 1979
6 Richard Rapport HUN 2621 1996
7 Predrag Nikolic BIH 2619 1960
8 Jan Smeets NED 2615 1985
9 Daniil Dubov RUS 2600 1996
10 Alexander Ipatov TUR 2587 1993
11 Robin van Kampen NED 2581 1994
12 Nils Grandelius SWE 2572 1993
13 Jan Timman NED 2566 1951
14 Sipke Ernst NED 2556 1979

The Grandmaster Group C will see ten debutants. This year the South American continent is well represented again with Krikor Mekhitarian (Brazil) and Fernando Peralta (Argentina). Another notable newcomer is 14-year-old Alexandra Goryachkinan of Russia, the current Girls U18 World Champion, who replaced Salem Saleh from the United Arab Emirates.

The remaining seven debutants are Igor Betinsky (who promoted from the nine round event in 2012), Alexander Kovchan (who qualified as the runner-up from the Groningen Open), the Italian Sabino Brunello, the young Icelander Hjörvar Steinn Gretarsson and Dutchmen Twan Burg, David Klein and Miguoël Admiraal. The latter finished as best Dutchman at the Cultural Village Tournament in November in Wijk aan Zee. Living in Velserbroek, Admiraal can be seen as a local player.
The organizers couldn't come to a (financial) agreement with Yaroslav Zherebukh, who "qualified" by winning the BDO tournament in Haarlem in August. Eduardas Rozentalis, the winner of the Cultural Village tournament, already had other plans for January. The runner-up in both events (Burg and Brunello respectively) took their place.

Tata Steel 2013 | Participants C group

# Name Fed Rating Born
1 GM Fernando Peralta ARG 2617 1979
2 GM Alexander Kovchan UKR 2579 1983
3 GM Sabino Brunello ITA 2572 1989
4 GM Krikor Mekhitarian BRA 2543 1986
5 GM Oleg Romanishin UKR 2521 1952
6 IM Hjörvar Steinn Gretarsson ISL 2516 1993
7 GM Robin Swinkels NED 2508 1989
8 IM Twan Burg NED 2492 1990
9 IM Mark van der Werf NED 2450 1968
10 IM David Klein NED 2445 1993
11 WGM Alexandra Goryachkina RUS 2402 1998
12 IM Igor Bitensky ISR 2400 1994
13 FM Miguoël Admiraal NED 2321 1994
14 WIM Lisa Schut NED 2295 1994

The 75th Tata Steel Chess Tournament will be held 11-27 January 2013 at sports centre De Moriaan in Wijk aan Zee. According to a local newspaper, the 76th edition of the tournament will be announced at the opening ceremony!

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Kwirin's picture

If the Bulgarian Borislav Ivanov was just invited to play in the A group, he could crush them all... :)

uahdnske's picture

I agree with you!
Everybody knows Houdini is the best

Onufri's picture

Yes, Bulgarians are very clever and talented!

Saji's picture

Yes, Bulgarians are very clever and talented and knows technology very well.

Seb's picture

[quote]A remarkable name is 18-year-old Hou Yifan, the reiging Women's World Champion. [\quote]
I am sorry she is not, and please do not tell me that you are not aware that Anna Ushenina is the reiging Women's World Champion, you can refresh your memory here:

Peter Doggers's picture

Oops, focused too much on the new ratings and used some old text. Thx, corrected. 

Marcos's picture

I am afraid Hou Yifan is likely to end the tournament with a big negative score

RealityCheck's picture

If she, Yifan, does as well as Polger did in London I wouldn't be surprised.

lolo's picture

Hou Yifan in the A group is a BIG mistake

go go Carlsen ;)

Bardamu's picture

Hou Yifan would be the 10th seed in the B-group...

It will be interesting to watch her though. She has beaten 2700 players before so let's see how she does.

ravi's picture

One thing is sure...Carlsen wont be able to win his game against Hou Yifan!!!!

Peter Doggers's picture

Update: Grandmaster Sipke Ernst from Groningen replaces Ni Hua in the Grandmastergroup B. The Chinese GM had to withdraw from the tournament due to a serious illness. Ernst, rated 2556, is the current number 12 in the Netherlands, exactly one place behind Jan Timman.

Sofie's picture

I don't think it's very nice of the organization to mention the financial disagreement with Zherebukh, you now create a certain impression and he has no way of defending/explaining

bronkenstein's picture

I am also wondering what were Yaroslav´s reasons to decline this prestigious invitation - maybe he simply considered group C bit ´low´ for him - which would be perfectly understandable, although it can easily be something else.

Anonymous's picture

Same thing happened to Nakamura who received a lot of bad press when he declined. I think he decided to play at Gibraltar 2007 maybe? I'm not certain of the year.

Thomas's picture

According to Nakamura himself, Nakamura declined "several" Corus B invitations - preferring sunny Gibraltar over windy and rainy Wijk aan Zee. His argument was that the US champion should be invited straight to the A group. By that reasoning, the French and Ukrainian champions should also get spots in the A group!? Both national championships are stronger, though less "glorified" than the US championship.

As to Zherebukh: with Elo 2623 he would have been top seed in the C group - which means decent chances (but no guarantee!) to qualify for the B group next year, where he would already fit well by rating this year. Some people seem to think he was greedy, but what if the financial offer was indeed insufficient - say, considerably less than what he already gets for playing in team events? Tata Steel organizers may consider an invitation to their event an honor, with conditions just the icing on the cake. But how prestigious is the C group for foreign players of Zherebukh's level?

jsy's picture

I don't remember any bad press surrounding his declining Corus B...unless you're talking about a few select internet kibitzers!

Lee's picture

I'm a bit disapointed Kramnik didn't get a guernsey this year. Still, I'll go for Levon in his absence.

I think Hou and l'Ami are in for some pain. The top players won't like conceding even a draw to them given the rating points they'll lose in doing so. I see some punishing games ahead for those two.

noyb's picture

Kramnik announced this past year that he wouldn't participate in Wijk Ann Zee anymore. He was never satisfied with his results there.

Thomas's picture

What's your source? Kramnik said even longer ago that, for some reason, he tends to have bad results in January - more a question of his annual biorythm than anything specific about Wijk (the climate is comparable to London in December where Kramnik did well more than once). But I also remember a quote "I will play in Wijk aan Zee if they finally invite me" (he must have known that other players were already confirmed participants before a press release went out).

So it's more a matter of a limited budget which only allows for three "very established players" and preferring Carlsen, Aronian and Anand over Kramnik - who isn't invited for the second year in a row !?

Kramnik did decline several Sao Paulo / Bilbao invitations and never played Morelia-Linares. He doesn't like intercontinental travel halfway during a supertournament, that's another story.

bronkenstein's picture

Yes, he mentioned it half-jokingly some time ago that there is ´something´ that stops him from performing @ his best there - unlike in, say, London.

Solomon Francis's picture

I am sure Hou will learn a lot from this event. Gawain got trounced in the London Classics and then went on to win Hastings. Regardless of Hou's final score, she will be a better player after this tournament.

The_Joker's picture

Edouard to win the B Group and Brunello to win the C Group.

brock's picture

Im a big Yi-FAN glad to see her get the invite but perhaps it would be best for her to play in the B group. Nonetheless she is certainly the wild card (as we all remember her Gibralter performance). How ever lately she has shown weaker performances so we will see which hou shows up to play and if she can maintain good form the entire tournament. I hope so

Septimus's picture

Interesting mix of weak and strong players. Hopefully none of the strong players hide their preparation and at least win a few games.

This lineup is too weak for Carlsen. He will win this easily. Kramnik is the only player who stands a chance against him.

Richard's picture

Who are the weak players? Or did you mean an interesting mix of strong and even stronger players?

Septimus's picture

Come on, don't be pedantic. You can always re-normalize the group.

S3's picture

There are at least 6 players with good chances to win the A group

Thomas's picture

6 seems a bit much to me - I wouldn't give Anand "good" chances (unless +2 turns out to be enough for at least shared first place) and Nakamura did such a thing once two years ago and never again for the time being. Who else?

But I easily count to four: Aronian won ahead of Carlsen last year (despite losing two games, one of them against Carlsen himself). Caruana and Karjakin both tied for first place with Carlsen at earlier supertournaments (and Wijk aan Zee doesn't have a blitz playoff).

S3's picture

Considering the line up it should be more than +2 but that shouldn't be too hard for Anand. Even Naka and Hao aren't without chances.
I don't think it matters if they didn't win a tournament for some time or whatever, they have the skills and strenght to pull it off.

Morley's picture

I think Hou will do better than is generally expected. She will probably finish with a negative score, but I think she will take a few 2700 scalps. She has it in her, she just needs to face the strongest competition she can in order to improve.

chessman's picture

I miss Illya Nyzhnyk in the line up... he does not participate?

SirSchratz's picture

the a-group does have a bit of a strange field. i think it's fair for the dutch to give their players a chance, not at least to add some local flavour.... but sokolov, I'm afraid, is a bit surprising, to put it mildly....

there are several hard fighting and entertaining players one might think of who haven't been considered yet - the polish players (including krasenkov) are just an example that could be mentioned.

a very big surprise is, of course, the young lady from china - she does, let's not be coy about this, attract the media, but apart from that....

GARRY where art thou ????

SirSchratz's picture

by the way....

.... is there a reason why kramnik is not playing???

the explanation mentioned above does sound like some masterpiece of diplomacy....

Anonymous's picture

Viva Vishy Anand!

Mort's picture

Will be good to se Peter Leko again at top level

bronkenstein's picture

´...both World Champion and five times winner Vishy Anand, and world number one and two times winner Magnus Carlsen...´ - finally, the right way - and order - to announce them =)

redivivo's picture

The order they finish will be the same as always though.

Septimus's picture

LOL! Brilliant!

RealityCheck's picture

I wouldn't bet my life on it.

The Golden Knight's picture

That a pity ;)

The Golden Knight's picture

Thats a pity ;)

The Golden Knight's picture

Thats a pity ;)

Jambow's picture

Yifan in group A is really asking too much of her, there are players in group C almost 100 higher rated.

I'm hoping Nakamura has another steller performance. I wish Kramnik was in the mix and prefer him to Anand these days. The last time Vishy put on a great performance was here in 2010 and when he plays the dynamic chess few are more entertaining.

Carlsen well nothing says he wont go even higher he plays the purest chess of them all and I can't help but root for him too.

Berliner's picture

Would like to know what illness Ni Hua has...hope he will recover soon, best wishes!

S3's picture

Is it true that Tata stops sponsoring this tournament after this jubilee edition?

Peter Doggers's picture

According to the last sentence of the article not. wink

S3's picture

my bad. hope it's true!

RealityCheck's picture

If Wijk aan Zee is no. 2 (??) with its remarkable 75 year history, who's no. 1?
Where has the longest running chess tournament been held?

Peter Doggers's picture



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