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Tata Steel 2019

Carlsen wins Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2018Tata Steel Chess 2019 is going to take place 11 – 27 January in Wijk aan Zee. The traditional tournament is going to feature once more two groups of 14 players.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is one of the most prestigious events in the international chess calendar. Often refered to as the “Wimbledon of Chess”, Tata Steel Chess Tournament celebrates its 81st year.

Group A consists of the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mameedyarov, Ding Liren, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimour Radjabov, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Richard Rapport, Samuel Shankland, Vladimir Fedoseev, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, and Jordan Van Foreest. The average ELO of the group is 2753, which makes it a category 21 event.

Live games with analysis Tata Chess 2019 Masters

The Challengers group consists of Anton Korobov, Parham Maghsoodloo, Vladislav Kovalev, Evgeny Bareev, Erwin L’Ami, Benjamin Gledura, Maxim Chigaev, Andrey Esipenko, R Praggnanandhaa, Vincent Keymer, Lucas Van Foreest, Elizabeth Paehtz, Dinara Sadukassova, and Stefan Kuipers. The average ELO of the Challengers is 2582 and the category of the tournament 14.

Live games with analysis Tata Chess 2019 Challengers


Tata Steel 2019 official website players presentation


Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen will play his 15th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2019. It proves the special bond between the World Champion and his favourite tournament, where he started his impressive career in 2004, winning with the fantastic score of 10,5 – 13 at the age of 13 in the former Grandmastergroup C of our tournament. He has won all three events in Wijk aan Zee (A-, B- and C-group) and since 2018 he is the sole record holder. In our 80th tournament the then both record holders participated (Carlsen and Anand), but it was Carlsen who won in 2018, after a thrilling tiebreak against Anish Giri (1,5-0,5 for Magnus). It will be interesting to see how Magnus did recover from his tensed WC-match against Fabiano Caruana in London (November 2018), which he won – as against Anish – after a tiebreak (3-0). Will we see him winning the Tata Steel Chess Tournament for the 7th time?

Country: Norway

Photo: Alina l’Ami

Shakriyar Mamadyarov

2017 was the year of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. At the start of that year, Mamedyarov was ranked 13th on the FIDE Rating listand exactly one year later we found him back on the third place, with just behind Carlsen and Caruana. It has happened more than once that players have difficulties maintaining such a high position, but not so for Shakh! On the contrary, he kept on playing very well in 2018 with a highlight in Biel, where he won the traditional tournament with the impressive score of 7,5-11. He ended 1,5 points ahead of Nr. 2 Magnus Carlsen, whom he beat 1,5-0,5 in their mutual encounter. The two times World Junior Champion will play for the 5th time in the Masters. His best result in Wijk aan Zee was in 2018, when he shared 3rd place with Vladimir Kramnik. With his attacking style and huge self-confidence he is definitely one of the favourites again in the 81st  edition. The secret of his run to the top? ‘A more stable life’, Shakh said in an interview. He got married in 2017 and became a father in 2018.

Country: Azerbaijan

Photo: Alina l’Ami

Ding Liren

Chinese Top-player Ding Liren comes back to Wijk aan Zee after a short absence of two years. It will be his 3rd appearance in Wijk aan Zee. Ding played his last Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2016, finishing shared second with Fabiano Caruana. Both of them had 8 points, finishing 1 point behind winner Magnus Carlsen.  In his first Tata Steel Chess Tournament, one year earlier, Ding also shared second place, together with Giri, Vachier-Lagrave and So. Remarkable was the way he built up his score then: 7 wins, 3 losses and 3 draws.

The three times Chinese champion, ranked no. 4 in the world, made a remarkable record in 2017 and 2018: he stayed undefeated in 100 games (29 victories and 71 draws) on the highest level. Ding has more records: he is the highest ranked player from China ever, and also the first Chinese player to have broken the barrier of 2800-rating, meaning a place among the absolute elite-players.

It is obvious that Ding Liren, with his uncompromised style of play, is one of the top-favourites in the 81st Tata Steel Masters. Winning this year’s tournament will automatically lead to a new record, since no Chinese player has won the Tata Steel Masters before.

Country: China

Photo: New in Chess

Anish Giri

Young Dutch superstar Anish Giri came to Holland in his early teens, and mastered the language fluently in no time. The Tata Steel Chess Ambassador led a ‘normal life’ in high school, not far away from his hometown Rijswijk, where he used to live with his parents. Meanwhile he managed to become a top grandmaster, which proves his huge talent and intelligence. After having finished his school, Giri became a professional. Wijk aan Zee has no secrets for Anish. He will play for the 11th time in a row in our tournament, having participated in all three groups (A, B and C). Since 2011 Anish has played in the Masters, with three second places and one fourth place as his best achievements so far. Actually his best result ever was last year, when he shared first place with no one less than Magnus Carlsen. Only after the tiebreak (1,5-0,5 in favour of Carlsen), Giri had to accept that he became second in the tournament. Giri  is still known as one of World’s best prepared opening players, while he is also known as practically unbeatable. After 2016 and 2017 did not bring him the successes he was hoping for, the 80th Tata Steel Chess Tournament was a kind of turning point, because in 2018 his results were just great. It brought Giri back in the World Top-5.

Country: Netherlands

Photo: Alina ‘Ami

Vladimir Kramnik

Before last year, it had been quite a while since ‘Big Vlad’ played in our tournament: 2011 was the last time, before he came back to Wijk aan Zee in 2018. It will be his 13th appearance. His first tournament was in 1998, where he shared first place with his friend and rival Viswanathan Anand. It has been his only tournament victory so far. It is always a pleasure to have Kramnik around, so we are glad that he accepted the invitation to come back in 2019! The former World Champion (2000 – 2007) is still very active as a player, despite the fact that the now 43 years old once ‘threatened’ to quit chess at the age of 40… Kramnik is still difficult to beat, all his opponents respect him a lot, also the ones from the new generation. Obviously he has lots of fun playing chess nowadays. His games are always full of energy and he produces lots of fighting chess, which is great news for his huge number of chess fans. Kramnik shared 3rd place in 2018, with the fantastic score of six wins, two losses and only five draws. When in the same form, Vladimir is automatically top candidate again to fight for first place in 2019!

Country: Russia

Photo: Alina l’Ami

Viswanathan Anand

The great Vishy Anand already played 18 times in Wijk aan Zee, including his Candidates match against Arthur Jusupov in 1994. Anand made his debut in 1989, the period when his nickname was still ‘Speedy Gonzales’, as it was his habit the to think between 30 and 60 minutes about an entire game. It proved his exceptional talent for the game. Anand had just turned 19 then when he shared first place in our tournament with Sax, Ribli and Nikolic at his first appearance in Wijk aan Zee. Later, Anand won again in 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Together with Carlsen he was record holder till the year 2018, winning the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 5 times. In 2018 though, it was Carlsen who won his 6tht Tata Steel Chess Tournament, making the Norwegian World Champion the sole record holder now. Vishy himself however, also made 6 second places and 3  third places. So Wijk aan Zee and Viswanathan Anand go together quite well! Not only in results; Vishy has said more than once that he likes the particular atmosphere in the coastal village. In 2018 Anand shared 5th place with Wesley So.

Of course there is more than Wijk aan Zee on his record list: the tiger from Madras (now Chennai) was World Champion, Junior World Champion and he won practically all important tournaments  all over the world (Tilburg, Linares, Madrid, Monaco, Dortmund, Mainz, Leon…. only to name a few…). As it is for legends as Kasparov, Fischer and Karpov it is also not easy to write a small biography about Anand, because his list with successes is simply too long to name them all. It is our pleasure that the modest chess giant from India is back in Wijk aan Zee, now for the second year in a row, after a few years of absence before 2018.

Country: India

Photo: Alina l’Ami

Ian Nepomniachtchi

The super GM from Russia, Ian Nepomniachtchi, has a particular record in his hands: he is the only top player who never lost a game to his friend and rival Magnus Carlsen in classical chess. He defeated Carlsen already four times, while they drew four times as well. Both players already met when they were very young, being born in the same year (1990). ‘Nepo’ was ranked in the top-5 in both Rapid and Blitz, but in Classical Chess he never made it into the top-10 though. The 11th place in January 2017 was his highest position ever.

‘Nepo’  won several strong tournaments, which proves that he should be capable of getting into the top-10. His aggressive style brings certain risks, which leads to minor results from time to time as well. See for instance the last Tata Steel Chess Tournament he played: in 2017, after a superb year in  2016, ‘Nepo’ did not come further that a score of 5 – 13, finishing 12th. Will he now finish in the first half of the final ranking list? It should be possible, we all know this!

Country: Russia

Photo: New in Chess

Teimour Radjabov

31-year old Teimour Radjabov is a former chess prodigy. He was already quite strong at a very young age, in a period when this was less customary than nowadays. Radjabov gained the GM-title in 2001, at the age of 14. Radjabov has a long and impressive list with tournament victories, among others the shared 1st place in Wijk aan Zee 2007, together with Levon Aronian and Veselin Topalov. Radjabov, who will play his 7th Tata Steel Masters, is known for his solid style and it is very difficult to beat him. He knows a lot about opening theory and at the highest level he still is a fan of the Kings-Indian, a sharp opening that used to be popular but somehow lost its popularity during the last years. Radjabov is less active since he got married and became a father, but still he is a world class player, which is proved by his current position on the world ranking list (14th). We are happy that Teimour comes back to Wijk aan Zee, the village where he gained his first international  successes as a young boy!

Photo: New in Chess

Country: Azerbaijan

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Reading all 14 portraits of the 2019-edition of the Tata Steel Masters, will lead to a high number of the word ‘prodigy’. As many others in this group, Duda gained the Grandmaster title at an early age: 15 years and 21 days. The reigning Polish Champion has already an impressive list with career highlights, a.o. the shared 1st place in the Junior World Championship in 2015, taking silver behind winner Antipov on tiebreak.

2018 became Duda’s year of his international breakthrough.  Besides winning the strong national championship (before Wojtaszek) he finished 4th in Dortmund and performed very well at the Chess Olympiad in Batumi, where he drew on first board against the elite players Levon Aronian, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin. In 2014 Duda finished with 7-13 in the Challengers, his only Tata Steel Chess appearance so far. It is now time to see him perform at the highest level in Wijk aan Zee! In the World Championship Blitz in St. Petersburg (29 and 30 December 2018) Duda proved that he is ready, finishing second behind winner Magnus Carlsen with an incredible score of 16,5-21, which would normally would be enough for victory, but Carlsen is – of course – Carlsen and he won with 17-21.

Country: Poland

Photo: New in Chess

Richard Rapport

Richard Rapport is one of the many chess prodigy’s in the world of chess. The now 22 years old Rapport became Grandmaster at the age of 13 years, 11 months and 6 days. He started to play chess at the age of four.

Richard is not only known for his huge talent for the game, but perhaps even more for his approach: he is considered as one of the most original top players of his time. When Tournament Director Jeroen van den Berg told the news on his local club in Amsterdam that Rapport was the 14th player in the Tata Steel Masters, most of the members reacted incredibly happy. It proves how many fans Richard has, all over the world and not only in Hungary, where he was national champion in 2017.

It will be Rapport’s 4th appearance in Wijk aan Zee. In 2013 he was co-winner of the Challengers, while in 2014 and 2017 he finished in the bottom part in the Masters. It is clear that Rapport wants to prove that he can not only play originally, but also make points with his style. And we all know he can, since he beat no one less that Magnus Carlsen in their first encounter in 2017, in Wijk aan Zee!

Country: Hungary

Photo: New in Chess

Sam Shankland

27-year old Sam Shankland had a great year in 2018. Especially in the first part it seemed that everything he touched, turned into gold. He won three tournaments in a row: the Us Championship, the Capablanca Memorial and the American Continental Chess Championship. In all three events he stayed undefeated and with these results he broke the 2700-rating barrier for the first time in his life. It also brought him to the best 30 players in the world.

For the current US Champion (which title he won ahead of the top Americans Caruana, So and Nakamura!) it will be his first appearance in an elite tournament. Shankland has a aggressive style of play, it will be interesting to see how he will perform against the best players in the world. Or, as he tweeted himself in November: “Excited to be playing with the big boys!”

It is not his first appearance in Wijk aan Zee. Shankland played in the Tata Steel Challengers in 2015, finishing 3rd behind Wei Yi (1) and Navara (2), with a score of 9 – 13. Shankland stayed undefeated in that event as well.

Country: USA

Photo: New in Chess


Vladimir Fedoseev

23-year old Vladimir Fedoseev  is the only ‘real debutant’ in this year’s edition of the Tata Steel Masters. Where other newcomers in the Masters played earlier in the Challengers, Fedoseev never played in Wijk aan Zee before. The Super GM from Saint Petersburg booked some remarkable results in 2017, such as winning the Aeroflot Open, the second place in the Sparkassen Chess-Meeting in Dortmund, shared 1st place in the European Championship but finishing 3rd on tiebreak, 3rd place in the Russian Championship and runner-up in the  World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh, after losing the play-off to Anand. With all these results Fedoseev climbed up to the Top-30 of the FIDE-World Ranking List. In 2018 his results were more or less consistent, so that he maintained his high position. It is now time to see this original and creative player in Wijk aan Zee!

Fedoseev is known for his ambition to win every game, either with White or Black. This makes him a very attractive player for any tournament. It is interesting to see what result Fedoseev will reach with his optimistic style in an elite Tournament with 13 rounds. That he will play some creative games and cause some surprising results,  is likely to be a fact!

Photo: New in Chess

Country: Russia

Vidit Gujrathi

Vidit is one of the many young talents from India. The 24 year old GM already was in Wijk aan Zee for the first time in 2017, being the second of Anish Giri. One year later he played in the Challengers, which group he won with 9 points out of 13 and one point ahead of Anton Korobov from Ukraine. It gave him the right to play in  the Masters of this year. Vidit is one of the five young debutants. With his dynamic style and great knowledge of the game, plus his self-confidence, it is obvious that he is ready for his first elite tournament. However, as for all debutants, playing on this level with 13 rounds to come, is not an easy task. It will be interesting to see how the open minded youngster from Nasik will perform this year. Vidit is the number-3 ranked player in India, after Anand and Harikrishna.

Country: India

Photo: Alina l’Ami

Jorden van Foreest

Jorden van Foreest will make his 4th consecutive appearance in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. And still he is only 19 years old! Jorden played very well in his first Tata Steel Chess Tournament in 2016, scoring 50% with only three draws, which is typical for his fighting spirit, but the year 2017 was a disappointment (4 points) for him. In 2018 Jorden played his best Challengers Tournament so far, finishing shared 3rd with a score of 7,5 – 13. One of his highlights in his career is winning the Dutch Championship in 2016, at the age of 17. But he also won the individual European Championship Under-14 in 2013. At the age of 16 he became international Grandmaster. According to a long tradition in Wijk aan Zee, such strong, young Dutch Grandmasters will automatically get a chance to compete with the strongest players in the world, meaning a place in the Masters. Now it is time for Jorden! It will be a tough test for Jorden, but he is at least certain that 17.000.000 people will root for him!

Country: The Netherlands

Photo: Alina l’Ami

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