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The Tata Steel Chess Tournament is all set to begin in Wijk Aan Zee

by Satanick Mukhuty - 11/01/2020

The first round of Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2020 - Masters and Challengers - will begin at 6 p.m IST in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands. The two-week long event taking place from the 10th to the 26th of January is featuring all the elite players of the world including Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wesley So, and Viswanathan Anand. This is the 82nd edition of the popularly hailed "Wimbledon of Chess" which in its 82-year-old tradition has witnessed the participation of all the great players of the past - from Smyslov, Spassky, and Tal to Karpov and Kasparov. In this article we present a brief curtain-raiser to the event.

The 82nd edition of the prestigious Tata Steel Chess Tournament is all set to commence in a couple hours from now. Often dubbed as the "Wimbledon of Chess", the first round of the grand event taking place in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands will kick off today at 6 p.m IST. Like every year, the tournament will see some of the best chess players in the World fight it out. There are two main playing groups, namely the Tata Steel Masters and the Tata Steel Challengers. World Champion Magnus Carlsen once again leads the field in the Masters group which also includes stars like Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wesley So, and Viswanathan Anand; while in the Challengers category it is the spanish Grandmaster David Anton Guijarro who is starting as the top seed.

Starting from today, for the next two weeks, as the battles between the greatest chess minds of this generation unfold, all eyes will be fixed on Wijk Aan Zee. Theo Henrar, the chairman of the board of Tata Steel Netherlands, echoed similar sentiments when he mentioned about the tradition of the beautiful Dutch coastal town turning into the center of chess universe for a fortnight: "Tata Steel and Chess are inextricably linked, a relationship that goes back 82 years. Working together with the inhabitants of Wijk aan Zee we make sure that the town is the centre of the universe for two weeks once again, or at least of the chess universe."

Players and pairings

The list of all fourteen players in the Masters event.

As previously mentioned, it is none other than the World Champion Magnus Carlsen himself who leads the Masters group of the event. After having one of the most successful years just behind him - a year where he managed to clinch as many as ten tournament victories and extend his unbeaten streak to a stupendous 107 classical games, what has the prodigious Norwegian in store for 2020? Wijk Aan Zee will perhaps reveal the big answer in the next few days that the entire chess world is so intent upon knowing!

Magnus Carlsen with his Wijk Aan Zee trophy last year! | Photo: Alina l'Ami 

After the drawing of the lots that took place yesterday, Carlsen has been paired up against Anish Giri in the first round. Incidentally, last year he won the event for a record seventh time, by holding Giri to a comfortable draw in the final round.

The all important Carlsen versus Giri in Wijk Aan Zee last year | Photo: Alina l'Ami 

The list of challengers

Grandmaster David Anton Guijarro of Spain is the top seed in the challenger category. He is followed closely by Nils Grandelius and Rauf Mamedov | Photo: Wikipedia

The tournament this year is also hearteningly seeing the participation of the world's best juniors. In the Masters group we have Alireza Firouzja and Jeffery Xiong, while Nihal Sarin will be battling it out as one of the challengers!

Vishy Anand will be competing in the masters group as the fifth seed. The Madras Tiger really enjoys playing in Wijk Aan Zee has come back to the event almost every year after winning it for the first time in 1989 | Photo: Alina l'Ami
All of Vishy's opponents except Nikita Vitiugov weren't even born when he won this event for the first time in 1989. What an evergreen champion Vishy is!

Surya Sekhar Ganguly will be starting in the challengers event as the fifth seed. The Bengal Grandmaster will be looking to make his mark among the other elite participants | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The pairings for the first round which starts at 6 p.m IST are as follows:

Round 1 pairings Masters

Xiong, Jeffery - Dubov, Daniil

Van Foreest, Jorden - Yu, Yangyi

Carlsen, Magnus - Giri, Anish

Caruana, Fabiano - So, Wesley

Anand, Viswanathan - Artemiev, Vladislav

Vitiugov, Nikita - Duda, Jan-Krzysztof

Firouzja, Alireza - Kovalev, Vladislav


Round 1 pairings Challengers

Saduakassova, Dinara - Mamedov, Rauf

Anton Guijarro, David - Abdusattorov, Nodirbek

Smeets, Jan - Van Foreest, Lucas

Ganguly, Surya Shekhar - Warmerdam, Max

L'Ami, Erwin - Smirnov, Anton

Keymer, Vincent - Eljanov, Pavel

Nihal Sarin - Grandelius, Nils

Format and schedule

The event is a 14-player single round-robin and time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment per move from move 1. If there is a tie for first place the top two after tiebreaks will play a 2-game blitz (5+3) playoff and, if still tied, an Armageddon game. 


All rounds in the event start at 13:30 in Wijk aan Zee, except for Sunday (26th January) when the round starts at 12:00. The first round is on 11th of January. Rest days for the Masters and Challengers are scheduled on 15th, 20th, and 23rd of January.

The new "Chess in Tour" destination:

As is tradition, apart from the main venue in Wijk Aan Zee, one round of the event on the 16th of January will be played in the PSV football stadium in Eindhoven | Photo: Official site

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