Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, Vidit, Leon, Harika and Divya will play at 86th Tata Steel Chess 2024
As of now, the first major chess event of the year 2024 is 86th Tata Steel Chess. The 'Wimbledon of Chess' will take place from 12th to 28th January 2024. D Gukesh, R Praggnanandhaa and Vidit Gujrathi will be seen in action in the Masters section along with Ding Liren, Alireza Firouzja, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Anish Giri, Parham Maghsoodloo, Wei Yi, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Jorden van Foreest, Alexander Donchenko, Max Warmerdam and Wenjun Ju. Tata Steel Chess India 2023 Women Rapid winner, IM Divya Deshmukh and GM Leon Luke Mendonca will be making their debut in the Challengers section. They will be joined by GM Harika Dronavalli who will make her return to Wijk aan Zee after five years. Who are your picks to win the Masters and Challengers sections?
Highest number of Indians to take part at 86th Tata Steel Chess
This year, in the 85th edition of Tata Steel Chess, five Indians - three in Masters and two in Challengers. Next year, the 86th edition will have one more Indian than the previous edition, a total of six which is the highest ever.
Following months of absence after winning his first world title in April 2023, World Champion Ding Liren (China) will make his return to global chess in January at the 86th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. He is one of the big names in the total field of participants, which consists of fourteen Masters and fourteen Challengers. The Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun (also from China) and Junior World Champion Marc’Andria Maurizzi (France) are also present. Naturally, Anish Giri defends his title.
"It will be another great edition," said Tournament Director Jeroen van den Berg. "Never before have three reigning world champions been present. I am of course very happy with that. And I’m proud that we have four ladies in our tournament. This has never happened before in the current format of the tournament. Ju Wenjun plays in the Masters. Harika Dronavalli and Divya Deshmukh from India and our Dutch talent Eline Roebers will compete in the Challengers.
Of the fourteen participating grandmasters in the Masters, seven are top 20 players. Here Alireza Firouzja and Ian Nepomniachtchi are big crowd pullers, in addition to the aforementioned world champion Ding Liren and defending champion Anish Giri. Van den Berg: “I am also happy that last year’s great talents have really fulfilled their promise. In particular, the Indian players Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh and Abdusattorov from Uzbekistan are storming the top and are once again participating in the Masters. Jorden van Foreest (winner 2021) and Max Warmerdam from the Netherlands are also competing for the title.”
Missing Magnus Carlsen
Van den Berg is very enthusiastic about the field of participants, although one important name is missing: Magnus Carlsen. “Unfortunately, Magnus’ schedule does not allow him to participate with us this year. He plays several other tournaments in February and that means that he is not at our tournament for the second time in 20 years. We obviously hope to welcome him again in 2025. He really belongs to our tournament and is always welcome.”
The Challengers tournament also has a strong field of players from the top 100 in the world and here too some great talents. “We have five talented competitors here who are under 20 years old, including the aforementioned Junior World Champion Maurizzi, who is only 16 years old. And many chess fans are undoubtedly looking forward to the arrival of Hans Niemann,” said Van den Berg. Niemann rose to global prominence in 2022 due to massive media attention following allegations of alleged foul play. This issue was mutually discussed and resolved by those involved in mid-2023.